1 Corinthians 5
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons — not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then 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 or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)
The 1 Corinthians 1 1 Corinthians 4 1 Corinthians 2 1 Corinthians 3 deal primarily with divisions in the church. These divisions come when individual believers live not as spiritual but as fleshly, carnal persons.
Carnal Christians produce not only divisions within the church when they cut themselves free from spiritual wisdom or eternal wisdom, exchanging it for carnal wisdom or temporal wisdom. They also produce other behavior patterns. Paul now turns to these. In the next several chapters, he deals with specifics.
In 1 Corinthians 5, he talks specifically about sexual immorality in the church. In this chapter, we confront the issue of how a church is to handle cases of sexual immorality within its own fellowship. Later in January, after the Advent Season, we will look more specifically at biblical standards for Christian sexual behavior.
The church of Jesus Christ is an island in the middle of a polluted ocean. The sea laps upon its shores. It is impossible for us to live our contemporary existence without a constant exposure to moral pollution. The stench of it is so common that we have become accustomed to its rotten odors.
We observe so much immorality in the everyday lives of persons with whom we come in contact that we close our eyes to these tragic actions and attitudes. We don't want to spend all our time judging others, so we pretend we don't see what we see. Or, if we see it, we can so quickly accommodate ourselves to it that it no longer seems so bad. In fact, we tear down the signs that say, "Danger. Do not swim. Waters are polluted." We dive into the bay without adequate inoculation against disease. Then we are surprised when we hear about some Christian who has messed up morally.
Vance Havner, one of the great old Bible teachers of America, observed during his many years of ministry that, "The world is becoming churchy, and the church is becoming worldly." I'm not so certain that the world is becoming as churchy these days as he observed in those years of post-World-War-II religious boom. But certainly the church is becoming worldly.