(1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
Nothing defiles the church so much as the acceptance of sinfulness and evil in the church. When the church accepts false teaching and when the teachers, preachers, elders and apostles of the church not only do nothing about it but accept and even embrace it, then that church is on a downward spiral and needs strong intervention to cleanse wickedness from the church.
Paul shows the nature of this problem that occurred in the Corinthian church in this section of scripture. He speaks out against a man who is living in a sexual relationship with his fathers wife and flaunting this situation with arrogance.
Paul is rightly aghast at such a turn of events and makes no bones about saying so to point out the error of the church and the need to cleanse the church of this evil. How can such a church preach against sin and hypocrisy when they are doing the same things? And it is no different today.
Defilement in the Church
The acceptance of what God has defined as sin under the law in the church is not acceptable. Sinfulness must be removed from the church for the church is to be the bride of Christ on His return and MUST be righteous and without spot, wrinkle or blemish.
In Corinth the church was defiled as a whole when they accepted the immorality of this man and woman living in sin together, and it was made doubly worse for the woman was or had been the wife of the man's father. As Paul said, even amongst pagans, and likewise today, even amongst non-Christians, such a practice would be frowned upon and considered to be wrong.
How much more in the church who are supposed to be seeking and showing the righteousness of God! Immorality in all of its forms should not and must not be accepted in the church. It must be dealt with, just as Paul dealt with it in the church at Corinth. Those who are doing such things, and if they are unrepentant and unwilling to change their ways need to be removed and cast out of the church.
The issue that Paul had with this situation in Corinth was that not only was this man behaving and living in immorality, but the church was arrogant about it. They accepted it and tacitly approved of it because they chose to do nothing about it. They needed direction and correction, which Paul provided by pointing out the error of their thinking, actions and ways.
You cannot accept evil into the church. There is no accord between good and evil and they must not and cannot exist together for the evil will pollute the good, as we see in the following scriptures.
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” – (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Immorality is not the only thing that can and does defile the church. We have seen similar situations in the modern church where ministers have accepted compromises for the sake of growth in the church.
Some have allowed pagan beliefs in their missionary work to accept and bring people into the church. Some of the things associated with so-called Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are based upon pagan beliefs and they pollute the church with false teaching. These must be rejected.
Some churches in recent times have accepted unrepentant and practicing homosexuals into the church, even into ministry, even though the bible is quite clear that homosexuality is an abomination.
Some churches follow the lust of the world for money and seek growth in the church to increase the financial wealth of the church rather than the glory of God. And again, the bible is quite clear that the love of money is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10). This craving for money has led many ministries astray thinking that money is the blessing of God rather than righteousness, godliness and knowledge of the truth.
Money is not of God. Money is the invention of man and it has no real value. Money has value only while man ascribes a value to it. When the reason for ascribing value to money fails, then money ceases to have value. It is an illusion. It is temporary and it is of this world, not of God.
Consider times of depression and severe recession. Money fails and the value of money falls. After the First World War in Germany the German money was so useless it was of more value to burn it to get warm than to hoard it. And other material possessions such as gold, silver, jewelry, paintings, cars and anything else that people treasure as valuable are useless when you don't have enough food to eat or clothing to wear.
And for the church to seek these things and accept them as desirable is to fall prey to the thinking of the world rather than the will of God. Acceptance of any forms of defilement in the church is wrong for a defiled church is not one that is seeking God's will.
The reason why these Defilements must be thrust from the church is to keep the message pure. The church needs to be a place where people can come and meet to learn the truth and to find the way to the lord. It should be a place where new Christians in particular can learn right from wrong and see the stark contrast in the ways of the Lord as compared to the ways of man in the world.
New Christians are a particularly important group for they will follow what they see and accept what they hear when they first come to the church. It is thus extremely important that the ministers of the church give them good ministry and teaching, and do not foul the minds of these new Christians by accepting poor practices.
New Christians are just escaping from the defilements of the world. They must be protected from those defilements and taught what is good, right and true.
New Christians will come in with all kinds of issues, some of which will be the very things mentioned above. Some people when they come to the Lord have weaknesses that will need to be dealt with. There will be those who practiced greed, thieves, adulterers, immoral persons, homosexuals, violent people, wife beaters, pedophiles, drunkards and any other form of evil and sinful practice you may be able to think of. These people are coming to Christ because they have seen there is the need for salvation and they are seeking a better life.
But many may not understand that what they are doing is wrong in the sight of God. Some will want to continue to live as they always have because at this early stage in their walk with Christ they have not yet learned right from wrong.
It is up to the church to teach them what is right and wrong and to help them through the time while they reject these things and turn to Christ in repentance. A truly repentant person who is seeking to know Jesus Christ will turn away from the ways of the world and their past life so that they can be with Jesus.
The Work of the Church
The church will not turn away anyone, regardless of what their past was, if they repent and come to Jesus. Just as Jesus came to call the sinners, so too the church is here to help the sinners find Christ and to teach them the right ways. And it will be a struggle for some of these people to change old ways and to break old habits, but if they are truly seeking God it must happen for they must reject sinfulness if they are to find righteousness.
There is no middle ground in this. The church will help those who need help and support those who need support while they are going through this repentance process and breaking old habits, but it cannot accept these evil things as being OK in the church.
How long should the church work with the person to overcome their past ways? As long as it takes. It will be evident if a person is truly trying to overcome and the Lord will make it plain. They will show signs of growth and improvement. But if they show arrogance insisting that they do not need to change their ways, then it is time for the church to act and take action as Paul did at Corinth.
We will see later too that the effect of Paul's actions had the right effect for the man in question did repent and the church did turn to accept him back into the fold AFTER he ceased his immoral ways. You can read this in 2 Corinthians 2:1-10.
This is why it is important that the church reject all forms of defilement. The church must keep the message of the truth of the gospel pure and undefined so that the church can grow in the spirit and so that they can teach the people the truth of the ways of the Lord. It is to the glory of God that the church remains undefiled so be certain that the church you are in has no defilements. And as we see in the first few chapters of Revelation where the Lord speaks to the seven churches of Asia, if the church does not deal with these issues of defilement, then the Lord will deal with them.
Keep yourself pure and undefiled before God. Seek the truth and find out what needs to be trimmed and cut out of your own life. Help those who need help and be ready to assist and support those going through difficulties as the Lord and the Holy Spirit deal with their weaknesses. And as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 2, comfort one another in the spirit of love which is the nature of God so that we all grow into maturity in Jesus Christ.
(Photograph sourced from freeimages.com taken by Raimund Koch)
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