Right Feeling Towards Erring Brethren
1 Corinthians 5:2-5
And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you.…

There have been a great variety of forms in which men have attempted to associate religion and immorality. Multiplied explanations and excuses have been given, if so be the indulgence of the immoral may be maintained; but it remains as searchingly true as ever it was, that into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour - here or yonder - nothing entereth that "defileth, or worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: and that every Christian man should know how to possess the vessel of his body in sanctification and honour, net being "conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of his mind." He is to "come out from the world, and to be separate, and in no wise touch the unclean thing." There were special forms of sensuality characteristic of and encouraged by paganism; but the sin into which the member of the Christian Church at Corinth had fallen was one which would be utterly repudiated and condemned by Gentile and Jew alike. It was one wholly subversive of family and social relations; and anything approaching to the toleration of it in the Christian Church would seriously imperil its character, and give at least apparent ground for the shameful accusations which its enemies brought against it. For the Levitical law upon the matter, see Leviticus 18:8. In advising the Church as to its mode of dealing with this erring brother, there is an unusual severity in the apostle's language; and this is accounted for rather by the attitude which he understood the Church had taken towards the offender, than by his sense of the enormity of the offence. St. Paul's supreme jealousy was ever concerning the purity, good order, and moral worth of the Churches. He seems to have highly valued character - in the individual and in the Church - as being the best witness among men for Christ. He strongly affirmed the absolute necessity of the connection between morality and Christianity, and based his argument on this foundation principle - our whole being, spirit, mind, and body, is the Lord's; and this whole being is redeemed in Christ, and is to be, in actual fact, wholly won and held for Christ. It may also be noted, in introducing the subject, that our idea as to the purity, unity, and model order of the early Church is quite a fanciful one. Probably there was no separate Church of those times that came anywhere near realizing the Christian ideal. We consider, from these verses, two things.


1. Whence it may come.

(1) from relics of old evil;

(2) from circumstances reviving old feeling;

(3) from neglect of due self watchfulness and culture;

(4) from undue fulness of eating and drinking;

(5) from the friendship of those who may lead astray;

(6) from sudden influx of bodily passion; and

(7) from actual occasions of temptation.

Though regenerate in will and life principle, the Christian must never forget that he is not free from the relics of evil in his nature and habits, or from the influence of evil in his surroundings; and therefore he constantly needs the counsel, "Watch and be sober." It should be especially pointed out that the most perilous temptations to which Christian professors are subject are those which come suddenly, reaching them at moments when some unguardedness or some self confidence lays them open to assault.

2. How it may gain its support. Here only one point is dwelt on. The apostle is anxious about the perversion of Christian doctrine to the excusing of sin. In many ways what is known as the antinomian spirit has been made the excuse of sin. It cannot be too constantly affirmed that, so far from releasing its members from the claims and obligations of the moral Law, Christianity presses them with tenfold urgency, for it demands an obedience that shall not be merely formal, but one that concerns motive and feeling and will. See the teaching of our Lord in Matthew 5:17-48.

II. THE RELATION OF FELLOW PROFESSORS TO SUCH SIN. No doubt, at Corinth, each individual Christian would strongly and decidedly condemn this erring brother, but party spirit was so rife in the Church, that some took his side, and laboured to find excuses for him, or to secure the continuance of his membership. It is still found most difficult to carry out the due discipline of the Church, seeing that party feeling gathers round even the drunken, the dishonest, and the immoral. It is, indeed, important that all judicial action should be taken by the Church itself, and that individuals should not have independent authority to exclude or to punish, but only right of speaking and of acting in the Church's name. St. Paul urges:

1. That every effort should be made to cherish and to inculcate right sentiment concerning the sin.

2. That action should be taken which would clear the Church of any suspicion of complicity in or approval of the sin. It must be made quite plain that the sin is the sin of an individual, and is an outrage on the Church's principles and purity.

3. And the action must be taken in such a way as may hopefully bear on the recovery of the sinner from his sin. This appears to be the idea of St. Paul in the figure of "delivering to Satan." The sinner was to be given over for a while to suffer the miserable consequences of his sin, but only in the hope that he would be humbled and brought to penitence and confession; and this seems to have been the result in the case of the Corinthian offender. In conclusion, press that

(1) the moral purity of the Christian Church should be the supreme anxiety of every member of it; and

(2) that the maintenance of such purity is quite consistent with the fullest Christian charity, which, through all its dealings, keeps steadily in view the reformation of the offender. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

WEB: You are puffed up, and didn't rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you.

Want of Discipline in a Church
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