This is an excerpt from chapter seven in the book, “Hurdling the Barriers” to Church Health.
“Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel;” (Proverbs 25:4, ESV)
As a pastor, I have ministered to many people who have struggled with cancer. I am sure that everyone of us knows of someone who has struggled with this illness. Cancer is basically the uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells in the body. There are things that a person can do to help guard against the illness, such as not smoking, eating and drinking properly, exercising, avoiding exposure to certain substances, and etcetera. However, even with these steps there is no guarantee that living a healthy lifestyle, will absolutely prevent an occurrence of cancer. Once diagnosed, there are various treatments for cancer, which are all designed to stop the spread of these abnormal cells and eliminate them from the body. Such treatments are chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Moreover, early diagnosis and treatment will significantly enhance the patient’s ability to survive the deadly disease.
There is a type of cancer that can enter a church. I am not speaking here about a physical illness, but a spiritual illness. In this type of cancer, I am speaking of impurity that can enter a church and, if not treated properly, can grow or spread to affect the entire congregation.
Any church that tolerates impurity in the congregation is unhealthy. Here, I am not advocating the setting up a standard of do’s and don’ts. This can turn into legalism and not deal with the issue of the heart. I am speaking of a tolerance of the open and unrepentant transgression of biblical precepts. In this chapter, I will look at unrepentant sin among the members of the congregation and the problem that exists when churches tolerate it. I will also deal with how the church’s leadership, may be at fault by doing nothing about overt unrepentant sin in the congregation. Last, I will discuss a very direct way that the Lord prescribed for the church to handle such issues.