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Addressing Sin in the Church

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Dean Butler

Imagine if today’s churches began pointing out and addressing the sins of their members as Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5:

"It is widely reported that there is immorality among you and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans—a man living with his father’s wife. And you are inflated with pride. Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst. I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed in the name of [our] Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together, and I am with you in spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord."

It might lead to uncomfortable confrontations and even empty pews. But the intent behind such actions is crucial to understand.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, Paul expresses shock and disappointment at the Corinthians for tolerating blatant sin within their church. He says, "It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst." Paul is incredulous that such serious wrongdoing is being ignored, reflecting a deeper issue of spiritual complacency.

Here, Paul is addressing a specific case of gross immorality. The church, instead of being grieved and dealing with the sin, had become arrogant, perhaps proud of their so-called tolerance. Paul’s response is not just about punishment but about redemption and restoration.

In verse 5, Paul says, "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." This severe action is intended to bring the sinner to a place of repentance by allowing them to face the consequences of their sin. The ultimate goal is the salvation of their spirit.

The Bridgeway Bible Commentary adds valuable insight: "Christians are not required to judge non-Christians for their sins, but they are required to take action against sin in the church. In the case in question, this will mean the removal of the guilty person from the church fellowship (vs 12-13)." This underscores the importance of maintaining the purity and integrity of the church body.

If churches today adopted this approach, it would certainly be challenging. Many might leave, feeling judged or uncomfortable. However, the purpose is not to cast people out but to help them realize their need for repentance and transformation through Christ. No one can live a life that is pleasing to God if they are living a life of sin.

Addressing sin in the church requires wisdom, compassion, and a genuine desire for the spiritual well-being of others. It’s about creating an environment where sin is taken seriously, but grace and redemption are always the goal. As believers, we are called to uphold the truth in love, guiding each other toward a deeper relationship with God.

Fifty years ago, I committed my life to serving the Lord. I hold an associate degree in Christian Education and a bachelor’s degree in Christian Counseling.  I live by 1 Corinthians 9:16, Ephesians 3:7-8, and Colossians 1:28-29. In my retirement, I focus on study and sharing the teachings of God’s Word with others. Besides writing this Blog I maintain 3 Facebook pages dedicated to spreading the Word of God. Email:

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