Last night I spoke on a passage of Scripture that I hope to never have to teach again–1 Corinthians 5. In case you need a refresher, it’s about the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife. I’m not quite sure if that’s referring to his step-mom or his own mom (I’m gonna give him the benefit of a doubt and go with the former) but either way Paul is about to blow a fuse. His conclusion is to “hand the man over to Satan.”
Like I said, a super fun passage to teach on.
Since a lot of you have requested that I post some of my talks online to hear, I’ll be posting the audio in the next couple of days. Until then, I wanted to mention one lesson that jumped out at me as I prepared this message. It addresses the question of whether we are called to judge others.
The concept of judging isn’t super popular right now. In fact, most people, Christians included, want to be anything BUT “judgmental.” You might as well be labeled “racist” or “bigot.” The term has that much of a derogatory stigma attached to it.
And that’s what makes 1 Corinthians 5 so scandalous–Paul commands the Corinthians to judge the man in sin. Paul doesn’t even wait until he can get to Corinth so that he can meet the man and find out if he had a bad relationship with his dad that drove him into this adulterous affair. On the contrary, Paul already knows everything he needs to know about the situation–the man’s behavior is seriously jacked up, and he needs to quit it.
This is a tough teaching for most Christians. We don’t want people to think of us as “those crazy narrow-minded Baptists” so we shy away from taking hard stances on things, and Paul condemns our hesitancy.
Paul rebukes those of us who try to hide behind Jesus’s teachings that we should not judge. Many Christians claim that they’re in no place to judge another person since they have sin in their own lives.
But to come to that conclusion is a mistake, and that is the main reason I wanted to write this blog today.
If being a sinless person was the pre-requisite for judging another Christian and holding them accountable, then not even Paul could judge. Yet he clearly casts judgment in 1 Corinthians. That said, what IS the pre-requisite for holding another person accountable?
The issue here is not whether or not you sin, but how you respond to your sin.
With the exception of Christ there is no such thing as a sinless life. When it comes to sin, we can only fall into 2 categories–those who resist sin and struggle with their sin, and those who do not. Some people ignore their sin or embrace their sin, and those are the people that God calls the Church to discipline. Those people who hate their sin and fight it daily–those are the people who Paul permits to exercise that discipline.
As long as you are not disciplining someone for a sin that you yourself are indulging, then you do not violate Jesus’ command to “remove the log from your own eye.” You might have other types of logs that need removing, but if a friend is struggling with a kind of log that you’ve never rammed in your eye, don’t hesitate to help her out! Not because you are a better Christians, but because we are one Body and our strengths and weakness often complement one another. You might be strong where a friend is weak, so encourage your friend in her weakness. Likewise, when you encounter your own weaknesses, plead with stronger friends to support you.
So while we are not to judge another’s salvation, we are to judge one another’s actions. If your friend struggles with a particular sin toward which you don’t feel any temptation, then you are in a good place to responsibly exercise church discipline without being a hypocrite.
That doesn’t make it any easier, but it does mean that God will bless your actions.
For more on this topic you can check out the rest of my message when I post it later this week. It’s a tough word, but it compels us to examine the areas in which sin might be creeping in. I hope you will be as challenged by it as I was!