Q. It Looks like the Church at Corinth had about as many problems as we do today. What exactly does it mean to deliver someone to Satan for destruction of the flesh that the spirit might be saved? Is this the same guy in 2 Corinthians Paul is telling them to forgive?
A. In 1 Cor. 5:1-5 Paul advised the Corinthians to expel an immoral man from the fellowship. This wasn’t a decision undertaken lightly, since we’re all sinners. But Paul said this particular sin was shocking even among pagans. Delivering him to Satan was telling him his behavior might be acceptable among those who are perishing, but in the Church a higher standard is expected.
Doing this would allow the man to be convicted of his sin, discontinue his immoral behavior, and gain victory over his sin nature (destruction of the flesh). I believe this is what happened and that he’s the man Paul told them to forgive and welcome back in 2 Cor. 2:5-11.
In 1 Cor. 5:9-11 Paul repeated what appears to be a previous teaching, admonishing us not to associate with those who are called “brother” (or who call themselves a brother) who are known to be sexually immoral, or who are greedy, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. Even Paul admitted that he couldn’t completely stop sinning, but he said there’s no place for flagrantly sinful behavior in a fellowship of believers.