(1 Corinthians 5:9-12)
Purity in the church is important for the sake of holding fast the truth of the new covenant and to ensure what is taught is aligned with the ways of Jesus Christ.
And just as the doctrines and teachings are to be pure and undefiled, so too the behaviours of those in the church need to be pure and undefiled. This is the issue Paul addresses with the church at Corinth in this section of scripture.
In fact all of this first letter to the Corinthians up to this point has been about attaining and maintaining purity in the church. And there are several good reasons why this is so important.
First and foremost is that as we grow and learn Jesus Christ we should adopt Christlike behaviours. We need to learn to act and behave in a manner that befits the name of Jesus Christ and us as Christians.
We have escaped from the evil ways of this world. Jesus Christ has set us free the bondage st of sin and the law that plague the people of this world.
He did not do this so we could do as we please. He did not die and suffer for us so that we could continue in a life of debauchery and sinfulness.
Jesus called us to repentance so that we would turn our lives around and seek to live a life that is holy, just and good. His word teaches us the new way of life that we are to lead. He gives His people the Holy Spirit to help them change their lives and to overcome the human passions and desires that lead so many to sinfulness.
And the Holy Spirit begins the work of transformation in us to make us into the image of Jesus Christ, which is the primary work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do this ourself. We cannot transform ourself into the image of Jesus Christ who is the image of God the Father, who is perfect in love. We cannot do this because we are imperfect and do not know what the true perfection of God’s love looks like, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to work in us and on us.
This is how we are changed and learn to put on Christlike behaviours. And for this to happen, the church must be pure and unadulterated and not tainted by the evil of this world.
Examples to the Flock
The church provides an example to the flock of Jesus Christ when it lives in purity. It is an example to new Christians coming to Christ and it is an example to the rest of the world for it shows the ways of God which are different to the ways of the world.
But if the church allows evil practices to continue, and worse, to flourish in the church, then the church is in trouble. It cannot exemplify the teachings of Christ and cannot be an example of the truth and purity of Christianity.
That is why if people in the church continue with their vile practices they did prior to coming to Christ, the need to be rebuked. They need to be taken to task over their actions and behaviours and to understand why they must stop and change.
It is for the purpose of preserving the purity of the church that provides an example to others that people who are practicing evil must be stopped.
This does not mean they should be jumped on and dealt with harshly. They need to be spoken to quietly and separately to discuss the issues and reason with them so they see the errors of their ways. If they refuse to change, then the matter should be progressed and others brought in as witness. If they still refuse to listen the issue should be brought to the whole church explaining why the things they are doing are wrong, and then if they still refuse to change, they should be removed from the church.
As Paul says, it is not those outside the church doing evil whom we are to judge, but those inside the church who call themselves brothers and sisters in Christ whom we are to judge. Why? Because we must maintain the purity of the church for the sake of the whole church.
The church cannot tolerate evil within its membership. There is no fellowship between good and evil and the evil will take a foothold if left unchecked and destroy the church. Those who are young in Christ or not as strong in the ways of the Lord may think the evil practices are acceptable if the eldership of the church does nothing, and they may be led astray to do those things and suffer the consequences.
Separation from the World
In Christ we have been separated from the world and to shun the evil practices of the world, which we all participated in to a greater or lesser degree before coming to Christ.
The church is not the place for people who wish to continue living in those evil and worldly practices. We have been called to find righteousness and to seek the perfection that comes through knowing Jesus Christ and being known by Him
As we know, no sinner or evil person will ever stand before God. How much worse will it be then for a person calling themselves a Christian if they continue to behave as the world does, participating in the sinfulness of the world which in Jesus Christ we seek to escape.
There is no place for evil in the church. We are the bride of Christ and are to be presented to Him on His return without spot or blemish, meaning without the stains of sin, evil and the wrongful ways of this world.
That is why we cannot tolerate worldly ways in the church. That is why we cannot accept compromised doctrines and the false teachings where scripture has been twisted to allow evil to occur where none should be seen.
The purity of the doctrine of Jesus Christ in the church must be maintained and those who refuse to abide in His purity have no place in the church. Their disobedience, especially if it has been brought to their attention wil not go unpunished. They need to be cast out for the sake of the rest of the church. If they repent they can and should be welcomed back, but if not, they have no place in the church for they will be a blot and blemish on the church and take away the purity of the faith. And this is unacceptable.
(Photo sourced from freeimages.com provided by Andrew Clarke)
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