March 23, 2014.
Do you think it is our duty as Christians to go to a brother or sister who has gone astray and lead them back to the right? Today in our society, it is almost looked down upon to correct anyone, much less those who are in the church and bear the name of Christian. We don’t like getting called out. “Who are you to judge me?” the saying often goes. “I bet you struggle just as much as I do!” And so, the defense in thrown up in the name of being judgmental.
But is this a biblical concept? We went over I Corinthians 5 today in class, in which Paul is dealing with a brother in the church who has taken his father’s wife and committed indecent acts with her. It almost seems like the church is proud of their tolerance to the ordeal.
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”
(I Cor. 5:1-2)
Paul is not happy when he hears about the situation in Corinth. It can be speculated that they heard Paul’s message of “freedom in Christ” and thought “Oh, so we can do whatever we want then!” Obviously, this is not the message Paul was trying to preach. We do have freedom in Christ, but this freedom is not the freedom to sin. God cannot be tied to anything sinful. He had to turn his back on his Son on the cross due to the sins that he carried on him for our sake. If that is not the most revealing piece of information about the mix of God and sin, I don’t know what is. However, the Christians at Corinth didn’t seem to get the memo that Paul wrote to the Romans.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
The idea that Christians could continue to live in unrepentant sin was foreign to all of the gospel writers. James gives the Christians scattered abroad this admonition:
“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
I believe that this answers the opening question well. It is our duty to help a fallen brother or sister back to Christ. Notice how James says “will save his soul from death.” That seems pretty clear to me that wandering souls are in danger, as he is specifically addressing Christians in this book, and even more so in these two verses. “My brothers, if anyone among you…” He is talking to the church. So what gives us the right to judge? Shouldn’t we not judge other, lest we be judged? Paul has a different message in I Corinthians 5.
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaningthe sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyonewho bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
(I Cor. 5:9-13)
Paul actually tells us that we are specifically to judge those who are in the church. Not judge in the sense of look down upon them, but to determine wether their actions aline with the Christian lifestyle, and go to them in love if they do not. Many people do not like this chapter in the bible because it is somewhat harsh. But, when you think about it, it really is all about love. Earlier in the chapter, Paul says its better to disfellowship now and have the sinner change his or her ways than not to and let them fall into condemnation. This chapter is really about looking out for our fellow brethren. I see so much love in this chapter and the next. But this would be considered tough love, and that is hard for a lot of people. I hope that we can care about our brothers and sisters enough to carry out what needs to be done in effort to save their souls. May God be with us all.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Corinthians 5-6, II Peter 2, James 5.
God grant you peace and wisdom.