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The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church which had a sexually immoral member. And he gave his instruction about dealing with him: “In the name 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…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…” (1 Corinthians 5:1-7).
To keep in the church a corrupt member, because of a desire to aid him to change, overlooks the threat of his influence on the whole group of believers. For a small amount of leaven, or yeast, placed in a large lump of dough affects the entire lump (Galatians 5:9).
The sentence against the sexually immoral member
The spiritual shepherds of the church, with the congregation, are given the authority to take disciplinary action in the name of Christ when there is a need. And such action, when conducted in the right manner, is approved by the Lord (Matthew 16:19; 18:15–20; John 20:23).
The sentence for the sexually immoral is disfellowshipping him from the church. The evil member had, by his own action, withdrawn himself from God, and this is to be recognized by his official expulsion from the church. Christians are admonished not to live “after the flesh” (Romans 8:13). But if a member decides to do that, he would be left to suffer the consequences of his wrong course.
The purpose of the sentence
The purpose of the disfellowshipping is remedial. Church discipline is intended to help the sinner see his dangerous condition and his need to repent. After he is corrected by his punishment, he is invited to live a holy life. Thus, the goal of church banishment should not be vengeance, but restoration.
It is often more helpful to the sexually immoral person to be isolated from the church so as to let him understand that his behavior is not in line with the Scriptures nor the church’s high standards. Therefore, it cannot be accepted. This was the case with Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul “delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20). Also, disfellowshipping the immoral person shows all the other members the gravity of being content and self-satisfied while such problems exist in the church.
Reach out for the sexually immoral member
Although, God does not wish His children to be exposed to the evil influence of immoral persons, and He admonished the believers not to get on close terms with them, this is not a ban against speaking to them or trying to reclaim them (Luke 19:10). But it is a ban against having a close, sociable relationships with them and treating them as if they have not sinned (2 Corinthians 6:17; John 17:16)).
All who accept the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ are indebted by their profession of faith in Him to be pure, “even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 2:6). The perfect example of Christ laid before the believer, invites them to reflect to the world triumphant lives through His power (1 Corinthians 1:4–8). Therefore, the disfellowshipping of the immoral member should be an object of deep concern to the church, and serious efforts should be made for his spiritual restoration (Matthew 18:17; Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:1, 2; Hebrews 12:13).
In His service,