Doggin' Out the Wrong People While Not Taking Care of Your Own

"Who are you to judge me?" "Only God can judge me!" "Don't judge others unless you want to be judged yourself!" We'll all heard these phrases and some have been made into nifty tattoos. But what exactly is the truth in these words when people say them?

Turn with me if you will to 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (or you can click on the link, your choice). Jesus told us in Matthew 7:1-6 that if we plan on judging other people, then we better be prepared to take what we dish out (my paraphrase). But here in the 1 Corinthians passage the message is narrowed just a bit.

Paul writes that we aren't to associate with immoral people. Fine, you say. I homeschool my kids, don't watch cable TV, and monitor closely who I associate with. But that's not what Paul is getting at. Notice that he said that we would have to be removed from the world itself if we didn't want to associate with any immoral people. The point Paul really wants to make is this: God will judge those who are immoral outside the church (vs.13); our role is to clean house of the immoral people inside of our churches.

Don't get me wrong. As a follower of Christ you are not to jump head first into the culture around you without regard for your own spiritual health. There is a lot of junk out there that we have no business being around and we need to avoid it. But Paul's point - and mine - is that it seems we've been so busy pointing out what's wrong with the world around us (i.e., those who don't follow Christ) that we've ignored what's going on within the body of Christ.

Paul makes a short list of sins - sexual immorality, greed, drunkenness, cheating, etc. - that this church in Corinth was overlooking within its own walls. And truth be told, our churches today often overlook these things within our ranks. We'll rail against how wicked homosexuality is or how disgusting Hollywood can be or how immoral our universities have become, yet we'll turn the other way when we know that there are members in our own congregations who are struggling with the same kinds of sins.

The solution in the 1 Corinthians passage is that we are to discipline those in the body of Christ who are in gross obvious sin. Put them outside the church if necessary. Why so harsh? Just a few verses above in 1 Corinthian 5:6 Paul makes the comparison of sin to yeast. Just a little bit spreads throughout the whole lump of dough. If we don't deal with the sinful problems that are within the church right now, then not only will they spread and fester throughout but we will lose the moral imperative to speak up against other issues that are rampant in the world around us.

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