This chapter deals with the responsibility of a local church to JUDGE EVIL IN THEIR MIDST. Sometimes we hear people say, “We are NOT to judge,” but we learn in this solemn passage that God is holy and He expects His people to judge sin when the person committing the sin does not judge it. There are different forms of sin and discipline in Scripture, but here we’ll be looking at the most extreme.

In verses 1-5 we read, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from you. For I indeed, as absent from the body but present in the spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (NKJV). It is clear from these verses that if unjudged sin is manifested among God’s saints, it is incumbent upon the local church to judge it. It had become common knowledge that a man was committing fornication with his stepmother, a sin so outrageous that even the heathen refused to practice it. Yet instead of mourning over this scandalous behavior, the saints at Corinth were proud. Perhaps they boasted of their tolerance of sin and thought that God’s grace would overlook it. But Paul had an altogether different attitude; he judged this sin in the light of God’s holiness and demanded that they have a special meeting to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.” What does this mean? I believe it means they were to put this person out of fellowship and to allow him to learn, in the world where Satan rules, to judge the sinful lusts of the flesh.

Now let’s read verses 6-8, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let up keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Paul now teaches them a principle that is taught throughout Scripture; association with evil defiles! The word “leaven” in Scripture ALWAYS speaks of “evil.” The sin that they were allowing in their midst affected the whole church, for they would all be looked upon as defiled. And if they continued to condone sin among them it would surely, in time, cause immorality to spread, just as leaven in a loaf of bread spreads throughout. In order for them to be free from this defilement they would need to “purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump.” Again, this refers to excommunicating the offender from the church, which would result in their being free, once again, from sin among them. It is precious to see that Paul also reminds them of their position in Christ, for he does say, “you truly are unleavened” because Christ was sacrificed for you. In essence Paul is saying, “Because God sees your position as unleavened in Christ, make sure you are unleavened in your practice too.”

In verses 9-11 Paul reminds them that he had already written to them “not to keep company with sexually immoral people” and that this especially applied to “anyone named a brother.” If one called himself a Christian and was living in sin we are “not even to eat with such a person.”

Paul closes this subject in verses 12-13 by saying, “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person’.” The church IS NOT responsible for judging unbelievers who are outside in the world; they will be judged by God. The church IS responsible to judge those within the church. He concludes by repeating what he had said before, “Put away from yourselves the evil person.”  (187.9)  (DO)