Journal 1 Cor 5 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world…or the greedy and swindlers…or idolaters…since then you need to go out of the world…
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler (scorner, abuser, disparager, etc.), drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Cor 5:9-13
Observation: Judging within the local church vs. judging outside the local church. Easy peasy: The Scriptures make clear about those outside the church. But what if the so-called “believer” brings some of the world with him into the local church?
Analysis: Don’t you know that I wanted to skip over this chapter? Let me be clear up front: I can analyze the chapter, read what it says, break it down so it is unambiguous, full of clarity and light—and still don’t know how to apply what God says with my understanding of love and grace.
I am either chicken (no doubt, full of fear), or hypocritical (again, no doubt. If I would be judging, I would be doing myself in some form or fashion), or with a bunch of unholy judgmentalism. I am probably not alone because, by and large, the vast majority of Christian churches don’t act that way or even have the reputation of acting that way; even leaning towards judging other people in the local church.
I think this scripture reference falls into the realm/area of the doctrine of the practice of Church Discipline. The presence and practice of this doctrine is a mark of a healthy church (9 Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Devers). But how does church discipline get practiced in a healthy manner? Certainly, the above scripture reference shows day to day practice by the congregation, not the more officious Matt 18 sort of procedure. Do I ignore facts about a brother just to keep the peace and to show love and grace, or do I turn up my nose, treat that fellow badly?
I think this journal session is for me to ask questions. I can answer clinically, but applying answers practically? I don’t have answers I am comfortable with sharing except in a closed group. For sure, the more I learn and embrace the Gospel with fullness, the easier it is to answer these questions.
Let’s face it: What Paul (by the Holy Spirit) is saying is mighty intrusive, especially since it can apply personally. It will seem unloving and ungraceful, but who is our love and Grace primarily applied to? That is God alone. Does the direction that Paul give honor God, or do we possibly pervert the Word by not at least meditating on this until we are aligned to the Word of Life?
Prayer: Lord of Life, Lord of the Church: have mercy on me a ton. I want to follow what you say. I also know that I cannot take things out of context and live with not exploring Your Word to be fuller in understanding. Everything I learn, I know without a doubt there is more to pack on, so that I become a single-minded man, stable in all my ways.
I humbly surrender my mind and my heart to searching your ways.
Ricky Two Shoes