1Co 5:1 “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.”
Up until this point, Paul has been dealing with a division among the brethren. This division is one that comes from putting men before God. It does not matter that the men themselves were godly and called of God to minister. Men are never to be honored for that which comes from God: the glory is His alone.
While on the one hand they had all this division going on, there was something else taking place in which there seemed to be no great division. Not only was there no division, but there was no real concern over the situation. The situation was a matter of fornication, and fornication to an extent that was unheard of among those that were considered unbelievers and outside the covenant of God’s kingdom here.
There was no attempt to keep this sin out of the public eye or to even acknowledge it as sin. It was so blatant as to not even be a rumor. It was common knowledge that one among them had lain with his father’s wife. This does not mean that he had necessarily been with his mother: his father could have divorced and remarried or had more than one wife in that day. Regardless, God had pronounced it a sin for a man to be with his father’s wife (Lev 20:11).
Not only was there no repentance from the individual; there was no corrective labor coming from the church. As a matter of fact, they were proud (puffed up) over the situation. These were apparently “modern” times for these people and it was time to shake off the old fogey ways of treating as sin that which God said was sin. It is really not so different from today.
Notice however that Paul was not attempting to incite them to some self-righteous indignation. He was not telling them to make some big spectacle to the world about how they would not tolerate this behavior. He chided them because they were proud instead of broken with grief. Paul’s concern was not just with the actual act of sin, but with the fact that the church of the living God was not in mourning over the sin.
Paul did not instruct them to hate the sinner, but he did tell them that the one guilty of this deed should be taken away from among them. Notice that Paul did not say that they should be sent away but that he be taken away. I know that everyone will not agree with me on this,but I believe that when the church mourns because of sin that the Head of the church will remove such a one.
As we continue to examine this chapter in the future, we are going to see that it was not the destruction of the individual that Paul was interested in, but rather the destruction of the flesh (human nature). When the church is in true grief over sin (and not puffed up in New Age dogma), God is moved by that grief. Even as the human nature responsible for the sin is destroyed, when Jesus manifests Himself the one destroyed in his human nature finds there is deliverance in the spirit.
If we truly believe in salvation by grace, we must see that the scenario here is played out in the Lord’s kingdom here on earth. While we might mourn over sin, that mourning has never saved anyone eternally. When we sin in a way not named among the Gentiles, if Christ shed His blood for us that sin will not keep us out of eternal glory. However, it will take us away by the power of God that we might learn repentance.
May we never treat sin lightly nor condone it easily, but rather let us mourn before the Lord that He will ultimately be glorified in His holy day!