For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within [the church]? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
The context of this morning’s verse is Paul’s admonition of the Corinthian church to discipline a man who was part of their fellowship. This man was openly committing a sin that, Paul says in verse one, immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles. The man in question was involved in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife. I do not know if this means that there was some Oedipal stuff going on or if the man’s mother had died and this was his step-mom. Paul’s point is that the man is openly involved in adultery and the married woman with whom he is committing that sin is his own father’s wife. Add to his adultery dishonoring his father.
With that as hi backdrop, Paul instructs the church at Corinth regarding judgment. There are two basic groups, as far as The Bible is concerned: those inside the church and those outside; the believer and the non-believer. Paul writes that these two groups need to be treated differently.
I love how he phrases the “instruction” (it is actually a rhetorical question) about dealing with those outside the church. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? The non-believer is not a member of the body of Christ. The non-believer is not acting as a representative of Christ to the world. It is not my business to condemn the actions of those outside the body. God gave them the Ten Commandments, same as He gave them to me. God gave those people a conscience, same as He gave one to me. And God has sent people, like me, to warn that actions have consequences and transgression of God’s Law results in spiritual death. I need not go any further than that. I do not need to defend God’s Law or condemn the person. Stepping across the line of God’s Law results in spiritual death. The only way to not die is to trust that Christ’s death was offered in my place and is sufficient to pay the debt I owe. After that, it is a matter of following Him and submitting to His rule over my life.
But those within the church I am definitely to be a part of disciplining. If I know that I know that I know that someone is engaged in a sin and not making any efforts to be free from it, then there needs to be action taken. God does not condemn those who are still trying to overcome sin. He helps them. God does, however, have strong words for those who claim to trust in Christ’s atoning death and then live as if they were free to commit any and every sin imaginable without remorse or repentance. God, through Paul, calls me to cut that sort of person off; have nothing to do with them. The intent is that the body of Christ would dissociate from that person while still praying for them to repent and be ready to welcome them back if they do. God is not looking for me to shove the person into Hell, but rather to let them have their way and not give them the illusion that their actions are approved by God or His people. If I say nothing, then my silence approves. If I speak out, then God may begin to convict and work in that person’s life.
Where am I this morning? Am I judging those outside the church? If yes, then I need to stop. That is not my place. Am I agreeing with God’s statements about what should go in within His church? If yes, am I cooperating when disciplinary actions are taken by the body of Christ?