In my personal study today I read through 1 Corinthians 5. The entire chapter is speaking of sexual deviancy. Sadly it is not the Apostle Paul’s rant about the sexual deviant outside the Church, rather those inside the Church. Here is what is written, as recorded in the New American Standard Bible:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolators; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolator, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you no judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
Okay, here’s the deal. A lot of people get all fired up about the wickedness of…well, the wicked. Yeah, imagine that – the unsaved, the unbelieving, are acting just as if they are not transformed by the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! So in response there are those within the Church who begin to make all kind of rules of separation to avoid the very people that need what the Church holds dear! How crazy is that!??!? Think about it! Why would we, why should we, insulate ourselves from those that need Jesus Christ?
Rather, the Apostle drives home the point to the Church: you want to judge those “outside” and you fail to recognize the cancerous sin “inside” the Church. It is the height of hypocrisy for those who call themselves the Church to condemn and strut about judging those who cannot act any different than they do…all the while failing to look inside themselves at the cancerous sin that is bringing shame and disgrace to the Bride of Christ.
So what do you do?
O recipient of the grace of Jesus Christ! Drive yourself back to the foot of the cross! Spend long hours there – focus on why you are in need of grace and mercy. Think long of the sins forgiven you. Meditate on the unfathomable riches of this grace! Then when you have soaked in that love and forgiveness, experiencing the conviction, repentance, and grace of our Savior, look to your brothers and sisters in Christ. In humility lead them back to the cross so that they too may be reminded of the gospel. Then, filled with the fulness of Christ, reach out to those outside the Church so that they also might be lavished with grace upon grace.