- In 1 Cor. 5 he addresses collective holiness.
- In 1 Cor. 6 he addresses individual holiness.
- In 1 Cor. 7 he addresses family holiness.
- Failure to Judge Moral Evil (vv.1-5)
- The Principles of Defilement and Purgation (vv.6-8)
- Exhortations on Separating from and Judging Moral Evil (vv.9-13)
Failure to Judge Moral Evil (vv.1-5)
The Circumstances of the Evil and It’s Publicity (v.1)
The Corinthians’ Lack of Response (v.2)
Paul’s Response (vv.3-5)
The local assembly has been invested with authority to "bind" or "loose" a person's sin (Matt. 18:18); which means to "retain" or "remit" their sin (John 20:23). Binding and loosing are two administrative actions that are done "in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ" and are backed by His authority (1 Cor. 5:4). The authority to "bind" and "loose" with heaven's ratification was given first to Peter (Matt. 16:19), then extended to the local assembly (Matt. 18:18).
To "bind" a person's sin upon them is to associate them with that sin in an official sense. Morally, they were associated with it the moment the sin was committed, but this is a special association of an official character. Paul does this in 1 Cor. 5:4 with the words "being such"; that is, he formally connected that man with his sin. Excommunication of the wicked person follows binding of the sin (v.5). In 1 Cor. 5 we have an example of "binding", and in 2 Cor. 2 we have the "loosing". Once a person has turned from their sin, and their repentance is manifest, the assembly ought to "loose" the sin, or formally disassociate the person from it. The whole assembly, wherever it may be found "on earth" is required to acknowledge an administrative action once taken, because it is bound or loosed in heaven. To continue fellowship with a person that is put away is to ignore the action taken, and to rebel against the authority of heaven. The binding or loosing would occur in a solemn meeting for judicial action; "when ye are gathered together" (v.4). It is only when the assembly is formally gathered together that the presence and "power of our Lord Jesus Christ" is there to give weight to the action.Read more…
- For the Lord’s glory, to disassociate His name from the evil (v.4).
- For the assembly’s good, to purge the leaven out that the assembly might be a new lump (v.7).
- For the offender’s restoration, for his correction and restoration (v.5).
The Principles of Defilement and Purgation (vv.6-8)
- Old leaven. These would be the old sins that characterized the old man. It is those habits and practices that the Corinthians had been consumed with before they believed the gospel.
- Leaven of malice and wickedness. This would be the new sins that are in danger of creeping in, not as a result of old habits, but as a result of new opportunities as we rub shoulders with our brethren. “Malice” specifically is hurtful feelings. “Wickedness” encompasses actions taken against one another. The root of wickedness is malice. The cure for malice is sincerity, and the cure for wickedness is truth.
Exhortations on Separating from and Judging Moral Evil (vv.9-13)
Separation from Evil in the World: With Exceptions (vv.9-10)
Separation from Evil in the House of God: No Exceptions (vv.11)
The Assembly is Responsible to Judge Evil Within (vv.12-13)
The whole assembly is to be involved in the action, and the whole assembly is to recognize the action once taken; "put away from among yourselves (plural) that wicked person" (1 Cor. 5:13). In reference to the fornicator, Paul says that when repentance was worked in the man's heart, the whole assembly ("ye" and "you" are plural) was to act together to lift social restrictions; "ye should rather shew grace and encourage" (2 Cor. 2:7) and restore him to full fellowship; "to whom ye forgive anything, I also" (2 Cor. 2:10). To act independently of the local assembly in these matters of putting away and restoring is really to undermine the authority of the Lord. Furthermore, socializing with the wicked person may be well intended, but it doesn't really help that person. That is acting in human love rather than divine love, and it will only hinder the work of restoration. And this is not just locally. The responsibility to judge evil lies with the local assembly, but all who are gathered on the ground of the assembly will recognize their action. "Sufficient to such a one is this rebuke which has been inflicted by the many" (2 Cor. 2:6). "The many" is an expression which refers to the body of Christ at large (2 Cor. 9:2). Even if the action is unrighteous, all believers in all local assemblies must submit to it as "bound in heaven". This does not mean there is no recourse when an unrighteous action is taken. If a wrong decision has been made, we should bring it up to the assembly and they will be made responsible to correct the action. God may raise up prophets to speak to the assembly about wrong judgments, or send individuals from nearby assemblies to remonstrate with them. Ultimately, if the local gathering refuses to judge the evil, it will cease to be an assembly. To fellowship with a person who has been excommunicated is to ignore the action which has been bound in heaven. Often times this is done out of ignorance, and other times in self-will. In any case, independency is (1) a rebellion against the authority of Christ in the local assembly, and (2) a denial of the truth that there is one body of Christ. You cannot practice independency and "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3). The result is confusion; "every man did that which was right in his own eyes".