Immorality Destroying the Church

Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:

      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.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the 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 anyone who 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.”

We like to read this passage and think – man – what a nasty, horrible thing was going on – so horrible that Paul had heard, at a distance, of this ugly act of immorality.  But what we have to understand from this passage is that – while Paul highlights this particularly ugly and vile sin being overlooked in the church – he is using it as an illustration of a greater reality – that it was just the “tip of the iceberg”.  
The Corinthian church was ignoring this sin – taking no action to bring correction – because many were engaged in other immoral acts.  To bring attention and corrective action on those involved in this heinous case would have brought the spotlight on their own sins.
We hear the statistics of marriage – and the failure rate which mirrors the outside world even within the local church… and we wonder why…  
We see churches failing to have an impact on their communities – and we wonder why…
The answer isn’t too hard to find – as Paul addresses it in this very chapter of Scripture!  It is because we fail to address the immorality WITHIN the church.  1 Peter 4:17 should remind us where judgment must begin – and that is in the house of the Lord (the church).  
How many local churches have couples living together outside of marriage (justified by a plethora of excuses and vain justifications)?  How many have young people who play the “good Christian kid” when meeting together with the church, but outside they are engaged in every worldly form of sexual immorality they can find?  Further – how many professed Christian church members struggle with pornography, adultery (both physical and mental), and so much more?
And have we not seen local churches, then entire denominations compromise on the issues (with a particular emphasis of late on sexual immorality of all varieties)?  Why?  Because if they are to correctly and scripturally address one area of sexual immorality, they will find themselves having to address far more or otherwise be labeled as hypocrites.  Unfortunately, the complete failure to address any of it is just as hypocritical as selective correction.
A particularly revealing verse from this passage is verse 6 – “…do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”
When we overlook this, that, or another “little sin” (which we already know is not little in the eyes of God), it impacts – it “contaminates” the entire church.  I know of a local church that saw a leader in that church commit adultery with another member of the church.  Both were married, yet both chose to step outside their respective marriages to commit the adulterous act.  But when the truth came to light – and some attempted to take action – they were quickly silenced as the rest of the “leadership” chose to just cover it all up.  Exactly how can any pastor or church body speak to moral issues as God’s Word so clearly does, and be taken seriously when they so callously shun their responsibility to declare and act on the truth?

Of course – this all begs a return to the bigger question – what are we trying to do as a local church?  What is our purpose?  Is it to fill seats and offering plates?  Or is our purpose to shine the light of Jesus Christ and His redeeming Gospel to the lost and dying communities around us, making disciples, and seeing lives truly CHANGED?
Then maybe we need to again pray about what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:17

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

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