Fornication: The Danger that Spreads Within the Church

Fornication is the incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female. In other words, it is sex outside marriage. Fornication is a sin since sex is only for husband and wife (Hebrews 13:4.) However, this sin has become widespread in many churches, and most consider it a normal behavior in Christianity.

The normalization of fornication inside churches.

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.

1 Corinthians 5:1

Fornication has become customary in many churches nowadays. Church members talk and make fun of it like it’s a regular thing. This attitude towards fornication can be seen in the Corinthian church.

Paul reproved the Corinthian church for their carnality manifested in their schisms and strife at the beginning of his epistle. But their sensuality reached the point that fornication inside their church was common knowledge among believers and unbelievers alike.

Moreover, this specific mention of fornication in this chapter involves a church member and his stepmother. It is a terrible sin mentioned in the Scriptures (Leviticus 18:8.) However, what’s disturbing about this is the church’s attitude towards evil.

And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:2

Some members of the Corinthian church were so arrogant that they didn’t care about the standard of morality inside the church. Also, they refused to excommunicate the church member who had been committing fornication. Paul called them arrogant because they wanted to do things their way instead of God’s.

To clarify, Paul’s judgment was to excommunicate the member immediately since his sin had been going on. Based on the fact that it is commonly reported among the church.

Fornication and all kinds of sin must not be normalized inside the church. The Bible tells us to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18.) It is embarrassing for a church to have a reputation for allowing and accepting fornication among its members.

The excommunication of fornicators.

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.

1 Corinthians 5:3-5

Paul recommends that unrepentant fornicators must be excommunicated from the church. To deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. This means that you are putting him into the world, the devil’s domain, through excommunication. The punishment removes spiritual protection from the church.

God has a hedge towards all of us. For instance, the devil could not destroy Job since God protects him (Job 1:9-11.) In our case, the church is our hedge of protection. The church is the bride of Christ, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church. This means that being a church member identifies you as a Christian and protects you from the devil. Excommunication must not be taken lightly. It is a terrible form of discipline for church members.

The effect of excommunication is the destruction of the flesh. However, the goal of church discipline is correction, not condemnation (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.) Church discipline is not a group of self-righteous people condemning a sinner. Instead, it is a group of hurting brothers and sisters seeking to restore an erring family member.

Maintaining the purity of the church.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Corinthians 5:6-7

Their arrogance, sensuality, and attitude toward sin can influence the church. False doctrine and immorality can destroy a church. They can affect the church, future members, and the next generation of Christians. That’s why Paul reiterates the importance of maintaining the church’s purity.

Since being a church member identifies us with Christ, we must do our best to represent the Lord Jesus Christ as individuals and church members.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul’s command to cleanse the leaven had a health purpose. Purging the leaven reduces the risk of infection or illness, which they can induce from the old leaven. When a church allows sin to fester among the members, there’s a risk of spiritual infection or illness within the congregation.

The command for Christian separation.

The Corinthian church was to expect Christian behavior from their fellow Christians, but they allowed immorality instead. As a result, Paul commands that they are not even to fellowship with a church member that continues to live in sin.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

In addition, too many Christians are busy judging the people outside the church and neglect purity within the church. It is God’s job to judge people outside the church, while it’s our job to maintain the church’s purity by exercising the proper judgment, especially in excommunication.

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