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This is a verse that has confused many people.  With the Lord’s help, we can understand its meaning.  Let’s read 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church is what is normally referred to as a corrective epistle.  There were many dishonoring things going on in that church.  Paul wrote to correct these believers in their teachings and behaviors.  In chapter five, we have the sordid account of a man that was having sexual relations with his father’s wife, his step-mother.  Paul points out how that this man’s sin was so terrible that even the unsaved would not behave in such a manner.  As an apostle, with great authority, Paul commanded the Corinthian church to put this man away from themselves.  So far, they had become proud of their tolerance of this man and his actions, but Paul said he must be excommunicated from them.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 5:5 again, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  Paul’s intention was to take action to ensure this man would be ‘saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’  Discipline was administered to him by handing him over to Satan.  This simply means that being excluded from fellowship with the local church; he would be cast out into the world, Satan’s realm, where he might become ashamed of his wicked deeds and sense the proper condemnation of his behavior.  In every case of church discipline, restoration must be the object.  While many today object to any type of judging others, here we are instructed that the local church must judge the obvious sin in fellow believers.  As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?”  While we have no jurisdiction over the world, we do have the responsibility to judge the sins in one another so that we might take corrective actions to help restore the sinning person.  In fact, if a brother or sister in Christ is living in sin, it is an act of grace to speak to them of their sin and exhort them to abandon their sinful practices.  For more detail about the Godly act of judging, visit our website: www.answersfromthebook.net and type, “Why do people judge others when the Bible clearly tells us not to judge?” into the search box.

Now, do you suppose this man who was sleeping with his father’s wife was truly a Christian?  Indeed he was!  Remember, Paul spoke of him being saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about this man in 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.  So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”  Obviously, this man was repentant and felt the sorrow of his sins.  Paul encourages the Corinthian saints to receive him back into their numbers, to forgive him, comfort him and confirm their love to him.  The act of discipline was successful.  This man had repented and was now to be restored to fellowship with his fellow believers.  (119.3)