Sin In The Fellowship, Follow Up

Q. In Sin In The Fellowship you brought up 1 Corinthians 5:11 and stated, “we’re not to tolerate any sinful behavior in our churches…” but how exactly do we do that? We can’t stop them from attending services and worshiping with us side by side, and we’re not going to point them out at church and make them stand in front of the altar with the letter H typed to their shirts to shame them. And more importantly, there are people who are openly fornicating, some committing adultery, which also falls under the umbrella of “sexual immorality”…are they to get the same “treatment” of intolerance as homosexuals? I understand that it is Biblical and I’m one who firmly believes in following the Word of God. But I just want to know in your opinion what does that look like, when we are also supposed to be showing love and empathy for those that are struggling with particular sins, as we all are on some level.

A. In 1 Cor. 5:11 Paul included other sins along with sexual immorality (both homosexual and heterosexual). He specifically mentioned greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, and swindling, but I think he intended for us to avoid all kinds of openly sinful behavior. Earlier in chapter 5 he chided the Corinthian church for permitting immoral behavior in the fellowship (1 Cor. 5:1-5). He said their tolerance for such things was inappropriate and strongly advised them to expel the offender. Today this responsibility would fall to the leadership.

It’s important to note that the Lord’s objective is always reconciliation. In 2 Cor. 2:5-11 Paul mentioned this same incident, saying their efforts had been successful, the sinner had repented, and now they should forgive him and welcome him back into the fellowship. Our intolerance should always be directed toward the sin, and not the sinner.

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