To Judge or Not (1 Cor 5:9-13)

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 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 5:9–13, AV)

The Lord saved me while I was in Minneapolis Minnesota supervising a machine installation. Every week, I left home on Sunday evening, fly to Minneapolis and return on Friday evening. This went on for many months. About a week after I was saved, I ran into a struggle. I no longer enjoyed talking about the same sordid things the guys in the plant did and I did not know what to do about it. As I returned home one Friday night, I kept thinking about this problem.

After landing in Chicago, while walking through the airport, I heard what sounded like an audible voice. I don’t know if it was audible or just clearly audible in my head. However, the word that came to me was, “Love all mankind.” I interpreted this to mean that I should continue to work with the guys in the plant. I was not to enjoy the sordid things about which they would speak, but I was to work with them and do the job I was given to the best of my ability.

Paul in this section is still dealing with the man who was living in sexual sin. Here he says to the church that you should not even associate with such a man. Yet, in previous verses, he tells them that they are not to worry about disassociating themselves with the immoral people of the world. The reason is that they only way one could not associate with immoral people in this world would be to leave the world.

The big difference is this. Paul tells the church that they are not to associate themselves with anyone who calls himself a brother in Christ if he is living in unrepentant sin. In other words, if one professes Christ and his life is characterized by sin and will not depart from it, the church is to have no association with that person. There is a difference between one who claims the name of Jesus and one who does not.

Paul further states that God will judge those outside the church, that it is not our place to bring that judgement on them. This does not mean that we cannot assess their sinful actions and determine that they are wrong. However, it is not our job to execute judgment on those outside the church. We are however, required to take action on those who are inside the church when their lives are characterized by unrepentant sin. In this case, they are to be removed from fellowship and we are to disassociate with them.

So, yes, you can identify the sins of those in the world while still associating with them. Only do not participate in their sin. Moreover, pray for them to be saved, and share a witness of Christ with them when the door of opportunity opens.

For those in the church, love them enough to speak to them regarding their errant ways. Follow the steps that Jesus laid out for us in hoping that they will turn from their errant way and be restored to fellowship (Matt 18:15-17).

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: