Expel the Wicked Person From Among You

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-13

There are six classifications of sinners that Paul speaks against: sexually immoral, greedy, idolatry, slander, drunk, and swindler. If a person does not want to change their ways, then Paul’s command is clear: don’t even have lunch with them, unless it’s to persuade them against their egregious sin.

These are harsh words to hear because we don’t like to think these people exist in the church. It’s a warning for Believers as well. God does not tolerate sin. He is gracious and forgiving but He shouldn’t be put to the test.

Examine your heart today. Draw close to Him throughout the day. Take the time to just stop and praise Him.

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Blatant Sin

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5

Paul began to address blatant and vile sin inside the church. It’s one thing to see it from a distance and lament its perversity. It’s quite another for it to be happening all around us inside church.

Society unfortunately hasn’t gotten any better. In fact, with the internet’s easy access to pornographic photos and videos, and the normalization of perversion, the problems associated with sexual immorality are not going away. They are becoming worse.

So what do we do to right this moral ship? What specifically can you and I do?

The overreaching problem is that of societal immorality filtering in and changing the culture of the church.

Before we can preach the virtues of Christianity, we have to be sure our own “house” is in order. If it’s not in order, we have to find out why. Every one of us needs to examine our own hearts for untruths and falsehoods that have crept into our thinking. The more society pushes, the easier it is for us to adopt to how the world thinks.

Next, we need to pray for our church leadership by name. The struggles they go through just to survive are enormous, but you might never know it from outward appearances. You’d pray for them the same way you’d pray for your own family: health, strength, wisdom, spouse, children, grandkids. You can also ask them, and they’ll be happy to tell you a few things.

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Power

18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit? 1 Corinthians 4:18-21

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times but something just clicked: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Because God’s spirit lives in us, the power of God is in us. The power of God should therefore be evident in the life of every Believer.

Ouch!

The power of God should affect everything about us: our speech, our actions, and even our thoughts. When the power of God is displayed in our lives, wonderful things happen.

So the question remains, are you experiencing the power of God in your life right now? If not, why not?

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A Tall Order

9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:9-17

Paul continued to rebuke some of his brothers and sisters in Christ because of their haughtiness. But in the end, Paul commends them to imitate him. I think it takes a lot of guts for any Christian to say that because it comes with a heavy responsibility, namely, to live up to what we know to be the truth. Paul was confident he could do that because the Holy Spirit was in him guiding and mentoring him.

We can have that same confidence too. In fact, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have confidence. God knows our heart. He knows our failings and successes. Paul didn’t lord his authority over people. He didn’t demand them to imitate him. We can learn a lot from these verses because it shows the heart of a man who loved God and wanted others to do the same.

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A Self-Made Man?

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 1 Corinthians 4:6-8

Verse eight is a clear case of apostolic sarcasm! He wasn’t at all commending them for their wealth and power. He was merely pointing out their lack of need. They have everything; they don’t need anything. We’ve discussed this before in this devotional. Being self-sufficient and not needing anyone or God is actually a desperate place to be in.

The self-made man rarely is self made.

We don’t live on a deserted island. We interact regularly with people. We learn from them; they learn from us. We have friends, some closer than others. We have enemies who also teach us valuable lessons about what not to do in relationships. We have teachers, pastors, mentors, coaches, trainers, and associates who help us regularly.

Take the opportunity today to reach out to one of these teachers, pastors, mentors, or coaches and let them know you appreciate them. They’ll be glad you did; you’ll be glad you did.

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6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:6-7

What is written in the Scriptures is more than enough to keep us occupied for a lifetime. Still, there are those who explore extrabiblical ideas and can make their entire theology match what they think is true.

Such is the case with End Times scenarios.

Some people are extremely adamant about certain End Times scenarios to the exclusion of all other possible scenarios. They read it “clearly in black and white,” they say. Except that Joe down the road and Mary up the street read it in black and white too but come to very different conclusions. Then the Adamant Ones begin to live their lives to support that belief. I’m not talking about the crazy folks who think the world ends on September 23rd.

No, these Adamant Ones are mainstream Christians who spend lots of money on End Times survival supplies (sold by End Times preachers at a special price) to be able to live through what they believe will happen. Or they just follow the preachers because they teach what they want to hear.

Sometimes the cure is to sit down and just evaluate what you believe with what the Bible teaches. For some that’s an impossible task because what they believe has become so ingrained in their minds that they believe the Bible actually teaches that.

That old saying is still true: Keep it simple. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not in the Bible. If it’s not scriptural, it’s not scriptural.

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The Why

2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:2-6

Clear consciences but still not innocent? What’s that all about?

Verse five brings it to life: motives. Why do you do things? Why do you think things? What motivates you to do and say the things you do?

God knows our motives. Of course He knows our thoughts, but He also knows the why. Sometimes we don’t even know why we do or say what we do.

Have you ever given The Why over to Him? He knows it anyhow. It’s just one more area we can submit to Him.

For some, you may not want to know The Why. It may reveal some ugly, ungodly thoughts and ideas. Still, full surrender and full submission is how we grow.

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Servants of Christ

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 1 Corinthians 4:1

Have you ever considered why God entrusted His mysteries with us, His servants? We complain, get angry, disobey, become lazy, say stupid things, and do stupid things. Often those are our good days!

Even though we do those things, we have a heart for God. In the end, we want to know Him and make Him known. We can ask this initial question all day long, but it’s much better to continue doing the things we’ve been doing as servants. If we “fall down,” we repent and get back up. When we opportunity we tell people. Otherwise, we serve the Lord as we can with the Holy Spirit as our guide

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Carpe Diem?

21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23

There are so many great verses and passages within First Corinthians that these three verses get overlooked. The congregants in the early Church had strong, dynamic, and well-sought-after leaders much like we do today. Often, though, these leaders become “crutches” for our own confidence and spiritual journey. We look to them to “feed” and “nurture” us. But they too are mere humans. They’re not perfect nor should we expect them to be.

“Everything is ours,” Pal wrote. What is this everything? Confidence. Life. Hope. Freedom. Responsibility. Today. Tomorrow. The future.

Because we are in Christ, and Christ is of God, we can make wise decisions about our life. We can move forward in confidence. We don’t have to rely on leaders. We may want to rely on them but we don’t have to.

Read these verses a few times. What was Paul trying to say? I certainly don’t want to read anything into these verses, nor do I want to leave anything out.

I think if we can grasp the idea Paul was teaching us, it could transform the way we think about life and leaders.

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