The Purity of the Church

Posted by TJ Klapperich on 08/13/2007

As I have been preaching through the book of 1 Corinthians I have realized how much emphasis Paul places on the purity of the church. 1 Corinthians is simultaneously a very difficult book for us today and a very needed message for American Christians. Those two things are probably linked. Its needfulness is probably what makes it difficult for us.

 

I noted in an earlier post that Paul warned the Corinthians that if they destroyed the church, God would destroy them. Paul repeats his emphasis and concern for their church in 1 Corinthians 5. He has moved away from the factionalism of the earlier chapters and now moves on to a very touchy subject. One of the men in the church was involved in immorality. In fact, he was involved in a kind of immorality that even the "sexually liberated" pagans of his day would blush at. Paul encourages the church to remove the man from their midst and to place him in Satan’s domain ("deliver to Satan") that the man’s soul might eventually be saved. This seems like a radical and arrogant action for pluralistic Americans today. Many pastors tell me that when they practice church discipline today, they have members leave the church because they were offended at the action of church discipline. This shows how far we have moved from the New Testament concern for a pure church and testimony to a narcissistic American Christianity that cares more for the feelings of individuals than the precepts of God. Of course we must balance the concept of church discipline with the intended result Paul names–the ultimate repentance of the person. In fact if church discipline is done correctly and with proper motives, nothing is more loving. This sounds crazy today, but it is neither crazy nor mean-spirited. It is biblical.