1Cor 5:5                                    Excommunication                                  3/28/2010      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.       Excommunication (1Cor 5:2-5, 2Cor 2:7, 1Cor 6:18, 1Tim 1:20, Matt 16:19, John 20:23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Keep the Feast (1Cor 5:6-8, Rom 5:8-11, 8:1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       No, Not to Eat (1Cor 5:9-11, 2Thes 3:14-15)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 5:1 (2X). This entire chapter is dedicated to church discipline. Please put a sticker here, for we will be returning to this page very often. The very first verse mentions an incestuous relationship, and the last verse of this chapter ends with the words, “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” The entire chapter deals with excommunication. And thus the title of this sermon is, Excommunication. We read in 1Cor 5:1-13,

1Co 5:1-13 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

God does not hide anything from the eyes of our children. Here He exposes the sin of fornication of the worst kind: Incestuous fornication. So, let us see what God has to say about this sin. We read in V.1,

1Co 5:1 ¶  It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

It is reported commonly” tells us that this was a sin that was widely known, not only to the church, but it was even known to the heathen outside the church. What is fornication? It is sexual intercourse between two partners who are not married, whereas adultery is between two partners who are married but with someone else. The word fornication is translated from the Greek word “porneia”, which actually means any sexual sin. And so, the word “pornography” is derived from the word “porneia”. What is incest? A sexual sin is called “incest” when one of the partners is from the same family as the other. Incest was outlawed in the days of Moses for the preservation of mankind. God says in Lev 20:11 (2X),

Le 20:11  And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of

them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

And so, in the OT this grievous sin of fornication was punishable by death. The Christians in the first century AD had only the OT for their edification. But since the Corinthians were Greeks they might not be familiar with God’s statements in Leviticus. But now they were instructed to excommunicate this man instead of stoning him to death. From this we can conclude that the ceremony of excommunication has come in the place of the death sentence in many places of the law of God. Certain sins, however, like murder, must be punishable by death, for this sentence has never been rescinded. Fornication however, must be punishable with excommunication. We might think that civilization at the time of the Roman Empire was exceptionally immoral. But that is not true. For instance, the sin of someone having sex with his father’s wife was unheard of even among the unsaved heathen. But today this sin is very common. Today one out of four women have been sexually molested by their father or by someone else when they were young. One out of four! We could wish that the laws of Moses were upon us again, for that would certainly have put a check on this kind of immorality. And so we see that the wise hand of God brought stability, and put the brakes on immorality in the land of Israel for many hundreds of years. But today, in this nation immorality is getting out of hand because the majority of the people of the land are proud to go it alone, without God. But let us now see how God deals with this sin in the church.

#1.       Excommunication (1Cor 5:2-5, 2Cor 2:7, 1Cor 6:18, 1Tim 1:20, Matt 16:19, John 20:23)

1Co 5:2-5  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

God accuses the church at Corinth of being puffed up for not taking care of this sin. They should have mourned that such a sin was done in the midst of them. But instead they tolerated it as if it did not exist. But God has given the church a tool of church discipline to deal with this problem. It is called excommunication. This is a process which is only given to the local church as an assembly, and it was given to combat any of the grievous sins that are abominations in the sight of God. The apostle Paul says here that he is using the authority of an apostle, and a spiritual father, in directing excommunication to take place. But the authority to administer church discipline is derived directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. This passage proves that church discipline belongs to the entire local church. Paul was so convinced of this that even he would not administer church discipline without their concurrence and action. Although the government of the church is invested not in the people, but in certain office bearers, it is still demanded that all the people be in assembly. Although it is the office bearers who administer church discipline, all the members of the church must hear that a crime was committed, and they all must agree that they withdraw from the guilty person. But the simple fact that the people were present is no proof that they were also the judges. And thus is what the church must do: They must deliver the man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. What does that mean? It means to declare that this person is still under the power of Satan. He has not lost his salvation; but he was never saved to begin with. It does not mean that he will now be subject to Satan’s torture until he dies, for this man repented and was taken back into the congregation in 2Cor 2:7. But when the church declares to this man that he is still under the power of Satan, and the church is supported in this judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself then this decision must weigh heavily on the conscience of this man. And why is it “for the destruction of the flesh”? It is called this way because the sin of fornication leads to destruction of the flesh. God says:

1Co 6:18  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

In other cases the penalty is stated differently. For example, the apostle Paul says in 1Tim 1:20,

1Ti 1:20  Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

In this case Hymenaeus and Alexander were guilty of blasphemy, not once, but repeatedly; their speech was laced with blasphemies. And thus the apostle Paul applied excommunication to these two men so that they may learn to control their speech, and not to blaspheme. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 16:19 (2X). We need to know how and where the process of excommunication was established by the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not invented by the apostle Paul in 1Cor 5, but it was established by the Lord Jesus in Matt 16 in response to a glorious statement Peter made. First the Lord Jesus, pointing at Him-self, said, ”Upon this, the Petra, I will build My church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” And then Christ pointed at Peter and said in Matt 16:19,

Matt 16:19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

What are “the keys of the kingdom of heaven?” The keys of the kingdom of heaven consist of two parts: It is the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of church discipline. By these two the kingdom of heaven is opened to those sinners who have become saints, and it is shut against those who remain in unbelief. By proclaiming and openly witnessing the Gospel, accompanied by God the Holy Spirit, salvation is seen by the evidence of a true faith. And by proclaiming to all unbelievers that they who do not sincerely repent of their sins have the wrath of God and eternal damnation abide on them, as long as they are not converted. According to this witness of the Gospel and this declaration to the unsaved God will judge. We see the same transfer of authority after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus when He appeared to the eleven disciples in the upper room. In John 20:23 we hear the Lord Jesus say,

Joh 20:23  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.                       (This refers to the keys of the kingdom.)

Please turn again to the Epistle of 1Cor 5:5 (2X), and there we read the mysterious words,

1Co 5:5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

What is this? Does this mean that this church member suffers the torments of Satan in his flesh, with the result that his soul is saved on the last day? This is an impossible idea, for salvation is a free gift, and it is certainly not given in response to a work by Satan. It could mean that the person might be corrected, and humbled, and reformed by the suffering of excommunication, and that he might believe that the church had the salvation of his soul in mind. This expresses the true design of the discipline by the church. And this is a possibility, for this man who had sex with his father’s wife repented and was later reinstated as a full member of the Corinthian church. However, I do not think that this is the principal meaning of the term, “That the spirit might be saved”. In most instances I have experienced the offender is fully aware of what he or she is doing. The church is not teaching him or her anything new. They are so stubbornly holding on to their new found “freedom” that they refuse to admit that they have been wrong. The sin of unbelief was in their hearts all along, and thus they do not repent, and certainly they will not return to the same church. And thus, by excommunicating this individual from the church membership it will be to the betterment of the church, for it is the spirit of the church that might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Look at the context. The next verse, 1Cor 5:6 says, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” In other words, do you not know that if you leave this one fornicator in the congregation, very soon the entire congregation will be fornicating? Therefore it is not good that you are proud of the present state of the church. Therefore purge out that one rotten apple, or else the entire basket will be full of rotten apples. Then we read in verse 7,

#2.       Keep the Feast (1Cor 5:6-8, Rom 5:8-11, 8:1)

Now the scene shifts to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Apparently it is a new topic, but now we will see how it is connected to the previous topic of excommunication. We read in 1Cor 5:6-8,

1Co 5:6-8  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

God is speaking here of the feast of Passover. Before Christ died this was a required feast that was part of the ceremonial law. How does the ceremonial law differ from the moral law? The moral law says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, and this law is still applicable today. For those who are still unsaved this law says, “If you commit adultery you will suffer the consequences on the last day in the lake of fire.” For those who have been saved, Christ has paid for all our sins, and God says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Even though the moral law still stands, it can no more condemn those who are in Christ Jesus. How does this moral law differ from the ceremonial law? Before Christ died all those who considered themselves part of the commonwealth of Israel, which means all those who were members of the OT church, saved and unsaved, were required to obey the ordinances of the ceremonial law. After Christ died both saved and unsaved people are absolutely forbidden to keep anything from the ceremonial law. We are forbidden, because when we do adhere to anything from the ceremonial law we are, by our actions, saying that Christ has not yet come. For all the action items that belong to the ceremonial law were signs and pictures looking forward to the coming of Messiah. But when Messiah has come already we must put away those signs and pictures that were looking forward to His coming. And thus when one of your friends, who belongs to the group that is called “Jews for Jesus”, invites you to be a guest at their Passover celebration, you must politely decline the honor of attending this feast, and you must explain to him that to celebrate this feast after Christ had died is actually a gross sin, for by their actions they are actually denying that Messiah has come already. This is how the ceremonial law differs from the moral law, and we must ask the Lord to give us wisdom and discernment so that we can recognize those places in the OT where God speaks about the ceremonial law. Now let us get back to 1Cor 5:6-8. God speaks here of the extension of the feast of Passover. The Passover was a bloody ceremony, pointing to the fact that Christ, who is the Lamb of God, was slain for the atonement for our sins. And so, God established the Lord’s Supper, which is a bloodless ceremony to come in the place of the Passover. However, in the OT the Passover was a required ceremony, whereas the Lord’s Supper is not required for our salvation. And thus the Lord’s Supper does not meet the requirements to be classified as a NT ceremonial law. There are no NT ceremonial laws. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 5:8 (2X). There is nothing that we can do to become saved or to keep our salvation. We cannot even cry out to God for salvation, for if we have not been chosen to be saved all our works are sin, and God does not listen to the prayers of the wicked. Even if the wicked plows his field it is sin. Salvation does not come on the basis that we have done something, or that we have been obedient to His laws, for God has done all 100%, for God says in Rom 5:8-11,

Ro 5:8-11 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

If we are truly saved we have received the atonement for all our sins. But this does not mean that we will now live like the Devil, for if we have been saved we also have been made a new creation. Our old desires have passed away, and new desires have come in their place. This is why God says in Rom 8:1,

Ro 8:1 ¶  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.               (But why is God speaking about “Leaven”?)

1Co 5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

What is the spiritual meaning of “Leaven”? Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 16:6 (2X). When we search for the spiritual meaning of the word “Leaven” in Bible dictionaries or commentaries we are always directed to the fact that leaven symbolizes evil. But let God explain to us how we should interpret the word “leaven”. We read in Matt 16:6-12,

Mt 16:6-12 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Aha! Leaven represents doctrine, and doctrine means teaching. It can represent either good doctrine or bad doctrine. And we must pray that God will give us discernment so that we can recognize good doctrine from bad doctrine. Why did the Lord Jesus say, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” What was the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? It was entirely a works gospel, whereby the people were admonished to obey the ceremonial law perfectly, so that even acts of mercy were forbidden on the Sabbath day. This is horrible legalism, and God is not pleased with legalism. God is pleased with a heart that will serve Him full of joy. And thus the Lord Jesus reminded them of the joyous occasion when they distributed to the multitudes bread and fishes from an unending supply. The bread was a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Bread of Life. The fishes were representing people who are sent out two by two to preach the Gospel of the Bread of Life. As you remember there were always two fishes. And here in Matt 16 the Lord Jesus clearly says that leaven represents doctrine. Please return to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 5:6 (2X). And for this reason God says in 1Cor 5:6, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”, partly referring to a parable the Lord Jesus told in Matt 13:33 where a woman took three measures of meal and hid in it a little leaven representing the kingdom of heaven, until the whole was leavened, which means until the whole world has been in contact with the kingdom of heaven. But for the same reason God says in 1Cor 5:7-8 that we must purge out the old doctrine of the law and works gospels, so that we may be a new lump that is freed from any law that might be ruling over us, for Christ is our Passover Lamb, who was sacrificed for us that we should die to the law and be married to Christ. Therefore let us keep the feast of the Lord’s Supper, not with the old rule of law, and neither with the doctrine of malice and wickedness, but freed from any law, and let us celebrate in sincerity and truth. Now, why did God digress into the Lord’s Supper? It is because this person, this fornicator, must be removed from the congregation before they would celebrate the Lord’s Supper, for if he would still be with them he would be like the leaven that threatens to leaven the whole church. And now look at the context to see if our interpretation of this passage is altogether correct. We read in verse 11,

#3.       No, Not to Eat (1Cor 5:9-11, 2Thes 3:14-15)

1Co 5:9-11  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

Do not seek the company of fornicators who say that they are our brothers in Christ. I know that you cannot separate yourself from fornicators who are outside the church, or the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters who are outside the church, for then you must leave this world. All the heathen outside the church are drawn to these kinds of evil, for this is the human nature that we inherited from Adam. On the other hand, when we claim that we have been saved, when we claim that we have been born from above, and that we live by faith and not by sight, and that we have a special relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ who died on behalf of all our sins, then we also claim that we have been freed from bondage to those sins, and that we are now a new creation. If then there are people in our midst who are still living in these kinds of sins that are total abominations in the sight of God, we do not want to socialize with them, for they are deceivers. They lead people to believe that they are brothers in Christ when in truth they are not. Particularly we do not want to eat the Lord’s Supper with them, for if they are an abhorrence to the Lord, then they must also be an abhorrence to us. And so, if someone has been publicly identified as being excommunicated, then the Lord’s Supper should be denied to them, for they are publicly identified as hypocrites. This does not only apply to the sin of fornication, but also applies to those who are publicly identified as being covetous, or being idolaters, or being railers, or being drunkards, or being extortioners. When the judgment of excommunication has been applied to those persons, they should be denied the Lord’s Supper. This is all the more reason for the church to have firm control over who may partake of the Lord’s Supper. Please turn in your Bibles to the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, 2Thes 3:14 (2X). There is a little more information about this delicate matter her in this Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. This is the Epistle where God warns the church that there will be a great apostacy, a great falling away, shortly before Christ returns. We read in 2Thes 3:14-15,

2Th 3:14-15  And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Excommunication is not mentioned, and is not in view either. This is a dissenter who let it be known that he disagrees with the teachings of the apostle Paul. But Paul speaks under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore this man should be ashamed, for he is opposing the Word of God. God says that we who respect the Word of God should have no fellowship with this man, for he too might be a deceiver. Nevertheless we should not totally cut off all communication with him, for he too can be saved if he hears the Gospel and God the Holy Spirit lays it upon his heart. Therefore, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother, for he too might be willing to listen to the Word of God. Please return now to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 5:12 (2X). God concludes this matter of the man who has his father’s wife with a general statement. God says,

1Co 5:12-13  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

First of all, what have I to do with those who are outside the church? We have no business judging people who are outside the church. For example, if we strongly disagree with those who have been elected into office, then let me remind you that they who have been voted into office are there because God placed them there. Very plainly God says in Rom 13:1-3,

Rom 13:1-3  Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

We must be subject to those whom God has placed in office, for there was no other power that placed them there. God has all the power, and there is no other power in the world that gave them this appointment. If you resist those whom God has placed in office, then you are resisting God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. It is good to remind ourselves of this so shortly after the elections. We must give tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to who fear; honor to whom honor is due. Nevertheless, if they are outside the church we also have no business judging them. The Lord Jesus said plainly in Matt 7:1-2,

Mt 7:1-2 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

This is not to say that we may never judge. While we go through this life we make judgments all the time. We make value judgments and we make people judgments. But there are many instances where we are forbidden to judge, and there are many instances where we do not have enough information to make a judgment. In these we also refrain from judging people. Preferably we should wait until a judge has pronounced a judgment. It is only then that we can be sure that our judgment is right. In all other cases we place ourselves in the judgment seat where we have no business being there. And God says that with what measure we judge, we shall be judged by Him with the same measure.

But Secondly, let us now return to those that are within the church. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 5:19 (2X). Who are those who may judge within the church? The answer is: only those who have been placed in authority by God may be the judges. In case of excommunication it is only the pastor, and the elders, and the deacons who are in charge of making a judgment. And what is the charge, if there is any? There is a list in 1Cor 6, but I will reserve that for next week. The only list we will look at today is the one we find in Gal 5:19-21. There we read,

Ga 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Here are 18 works of the flesh which belong to the sins we committed before we were saved. But God says that if we still live in them we shall not inherit the kingdom of God. It takes the power of God to break the dominance of these sins in our life. Perhaps you recognize this list, for we read it every time during the preparation of the Lord’s Supper. Some of these sins need some explanation. “Uncleanness” refers to being filthy in the physical sense as well as in a moral sense. “Lasciviousness” refers to unbridled lust, no restraints and shameless conduct. “Variance” refers to contention and strife. “Emulations” refers to envious and contentious rivalry. “Strife” refers to a self-seeking pursuit by unfair means. “Seditions” refers to causing divisions. “Revellings” refers to riotous drinking parties.

Here are 18 works of the flesh which might be judged by the rulers of the church. Obviously, not all of these would be sins worthy of excommunication. For example, physical uncleanness would not be one of them. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus whose sores were licked by dogs, Lazarus could not be charged with uncleanness, for his poverty was not his fault. But we are commanded to judge the conduct of those within the church. We shall even judge angels, and that refers to the last day when we shall judge the fallen angels, who have become demons. But those outside the church God will judge. Understand that the church here in 1Cor 5 is the local church. It is the church that is well defined by its members and by the people congregating there. And when God calls us to judge those that are within, we can only judge those with whom we are familiar. We cannot judge people who might be saved but who do not want to join a church. We leave them in God’s hands. But within the local church we are commanded to keep a clean house. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.