Day 5

Church Discipline

from the 1 & 2 Corinthians reading plan

1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Leviticus 18:8, Galatians 6:1-10

BY Rebecca Faires

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Leviticus 18:8, Galatians 6:1-10

Are you shocked when you read the latest news headlines? According to Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, we shouldn’t be surprised at all by the terrible acts of the world. After all, if a man is not anchored in Christ, why should he walk in the way of Christ? Why wouldn’t his every action ultimately come from greed and selfish ambition?

Paul tells us there is a fundamental difference between Christians and the world. We are fully changed by Jesus, and therefore, we are measured by a different stick altogether. Everywhere you look, the world is going to cheat and deceive, but why not? If we do not know Christ and are not changed by Him, there is no reason not to cheat and steal if we can get away with it. But as Christians we claim the name of Christ, and He has changed our hearts. We have every reason to choose what is right, even when no one is looking. And not only do we have reason, we have a responsibility.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul takes on the topic of immorality with the Church, and he does not do so casually. Sin among members of the body of Christ affects the whole body of believers. “Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough?” Paul asks, an undeniable urgency in his tone. Though he is not with them in person, Paul is “present in spirit,” and he demands his brothers and sisters act in a manner worthy of Christ’s sacrifice (v.5). He asks them to remember their new measuring stick: the gospel and grace of Jesus.

So what are we to do with those in the world who don’t know Jesus, and who continually and exuberantly choose what is evil? Paul addresses this, too, explaining that it is God and God alone who judges (1 Corinthians 5:13).

It’s such a relief that it’s not our job to busybody around and judge the world for doing exactly what the world is wont to do. God will judge. Instead of our judgment, God is calling us to give our energy and “not [tire] of doing good” (Galatians 6:9). We can share the gospel and we can do good, but there’s no need for us to hustle our judgment on the world—it’s not even our job.

And what about our brothers and sisters in the faith who do wrong? According to Scripture, reconciliation is the goal. Listen to these fiercely kind words from Galatians:

Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
—Galatians 6:1-2

Look out for each other! “As we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith” (v.10). Have zeal for doing what is right, restore your Christian brothers and sisters with patience, and do not grow weary in your work of doing good. The Lord transforms His children, and He makes them fit for the task.


Post Comments (123)

123 thoughts on "Church Discipline"

  1. Renae Pearson says:

    I’ve often said that I easily forget how much I love and appreciate people or forget to pray for them when I don’t see them regularly, but Paul’s example is convicting. He cared about them so much it was like he was there with them in spirit. I’ve felt that occasionally with some people, but can grow in that!

  2. Erin Emmerich says:

    Im still trying to get a godly understanding on how to go about addressing the issue of church leaders living in sin. When does sinning cross the line to when we need to ask them to step down or even leave the church? It’s a hard topic!

    1. Morgan Hunka says:

      So this is just giving general advice to your question without knowing the actual situation. I believe if it is something that has and continues to be the “thorn in their side” but they are open about the struggle, set themselves up with support and accountability, and are actively seeking forgiveness and change they should be shown grace. We all struggle. But, if they are continuously living in a sinful way with no remorse or efforts to change, a conversation needs to happen with the church. I don’t believe asking them to leave the church all together is a solution.
      Maybe read Romans 14 and chat with wise believers before taking steps.

    2. Amy Estoye says:

      Matthew 18 is the standard for how discipline should take place in the church. John MacArthur has an excellent series on this chapter. I think it’s called My Brother’s Keeper or Am I My Brother Keeper? It helped clear up a lot for me and was actually the study that drew me to salvation!

      1. Rachel Smart-Gargasz says:

        Thanks for the book suggestion

    3. Renae Pearson says:

      Have you looked at and especially prayed through 1 Tim 5?

  3. Stephanie Cudnik says:

    I think the hardest part about being a Christian today is learning the difference between judging other Christians and judging non Christians. And knowing when to speak up. I think a lot of Christians have taken “don’t judge” and interpreted it as “there is no right or wrong. That’s not for you to decide, that’s up to God.” I think judgement is up to God, but we can still discern whether something is evil or good. I feel like a lot of modern Christians are afraid to speak up against evil because we don’t want to be judgmental, and that’s a slippery slope.

    1. Amanda says:

      Well said, Stephanie! I totally agree!

      1. Tessa d’Autremont says:

        Absolutely agree!!

    2. Abigail Peterson says:

      Yes to all of this!

    3. Kaylynn Lucas says:

      I completely agree! I think it’s important to cultivate strong relationships with other Christians so whenever we do see something we can confront them with love and they won’t see it at a condemnation.

      1. Stephanie says:

        I agree- I think the difference is often out relationship with that person. Providing that discernment for someone you see weekly at church might be accurate, but not helpful. Whereas coming to a friend with a struggle you see her having and trying to engage her on that will hopefully help her open up about that struggle.

    4. Brittany Groe says:

      Absolutely love this! Well said!

  4. Nichole Lindsay says:

    I love the connection in the reading today and I notice it has a lot of implications for today’s church. Paul reminds the Corinthians not to judge non-believers and that is God’s job. I feel a lot of people are turned off by the church today because of the judgement Christians place on everyone especially non-believers. And Paul states it clearly to not do that! I also see that he wants us to judge fellow Christians but in a gentle way, helping them leave behind their sins, repent and be restored.

    1. Nancy says:

      This. ♡

    2. Becky Klaff says:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself

  5. Brianna Foshie says:

    I think it is so easy to get caught up in judging others good or bad. We even judge ourselves, sometime more and often harsher than we judge others. We see someone wearing certain clothes and voice who we think that person is based off of how they dress. We see someone in the news who’s committed a crime and judge them and their families. I think with social media we see a lot of judgment and it has almost become normalized in our time.

  6. Jill says:

    It seems to me that 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 6 contradict each other. Paul is telling the Corinthians not to even associate with sexually immoral people and do remove the evil person from among you. That seems to not go with what Jesus teaches about loving all and what Galatians says about restoring a person with a gentle spirit. Any insight to this?

    1. Stephanie says:

      Maybe it has to do with whether or not the person is willing to repent and change. If they are unwilling to repent, turn them out. If they are willing to repent, then show patience and gentleness and help them through it.

    2. Kayla M says:

      I was thinking the same thing that one seemed extremely harsh and you never see a church remove someone from their the fellowship?! I think we turn a blind eye and maybe sometimes act like the verse’s in Gal.?

    3. Elizabeth says:

      It is a little tricky to reconcile. However, they do go hand in hand. The Church is able to discipline other believers, but not from a haughty spirit. The purpose of church discipline is for the goal of ultimate restoration. I liked to read both passages in the AMPC to help. The reason they were to have the fornicator leave was a way to cause his heart to be corrected and then return. Believers also must be careful not to socialize with those other believers living in sin so as not to condone/let it affect them. The verse in Galatians is saying to help restore believers who are in sin (help them to turn from sin) but also warns to be careful and wise so as to not be tempted also (not to socialize with them too much like mentioned in Corinthians)
      Hope that helps! :)

    4. Jessie Chatigny says:

      I think when we see inconsistencies in scripture like this, it’s an invitation in: an invitation to study and wrestle and not to skim and dry and make it the same (which is totally my instinct). One thing I hold onto is that these were God-inspired letters written to two separate communities with different cultures and different sins. Just like different kinds of people need to be told to take time to rest or to never stop doing good, these congregations needed different medicine. I have been a part of a church that had to ask someone to leave, a leader that was committed to adulteration and wanted the church’s blessing. And I’ve known many people that had affairs (and then reconciled or divorced) that we’re able to be ministered to and restored by the church. Context is so important. I wished we knew what Paul knew about the situation, but I love that there are multiple ways to respond and that the Holy Spirit can guide us. Makes it tougher without hard and fast rules but richer and more to the needs of each child and congregation of God.

      1. Amy Rinta says:

        Well stated advice. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we apply this Scripture to our lives and especially when we attempt to apply it to others.

    5. Jessie Chatigny says:

      So many typos! Try not dry, adultery not adulteration. Sigh. Phone typing :)

    6. Madison Veitch says:

      This was exactly what I was going to comment! I feel like Corinth 5 (to me) feels entirely inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus. Worth a note and like someone else commented, a time to digest and pray over that reconcile that with Jesus within our own relationships with Him.

    7. C says:

      Matthew 18, as someone mentioned earlier, has Jesus teaching us how to deal with church discipline – going to somebody one to one, then if they don’t listen to you, speak to them with a few others, then if they still don’t listen, tell it to the church. If they still refuse to repent, treat them as you would a pagan. So Jesus didn’t see it as contradictory to his message for there to be situations where it was appropriate to treat people as not part of the church – but only if they refused to repent. And it is always with the aim of them returning in repentance, just as God frequently disciplined Israel in the Old Testament to give them the opportunity to turn back to him. I think there’s a big difference between Christians struggling with sin, as we all do, and people who do not repent when they have acted sinfully. I guess the practical issue is discerning which situation you’re in!

    8. Renae Pearson says:

      I can’t think of any passages where Jesus taught about calling people out for their sin, but He showed it by example a TON with the Pharisees! He’s was CONSTANTLY calling them out in front of everybody, because they were arrogant and uninterested in changing.

    9. Amy Masaschi says:

      It sounds inconsistent b/c it’s a hard

    10. Amy Masaschi says:

      It sounds inconsistent b/c it’s a hard saying. Don’t ignore or dismiss scripture b/c it seems inconsistent…God is not the author of confusion…do some serious studying and praying of these passages, listen to sermons preached on them.

  7. Elaine says:

    can somebody explain Gal 6:2 and 5 to me? I’m sure there is some poetic explanation, but i just don’t see it

    1. Christina Dodd says:

      Jeri did a great job explaining this to the Aliza! I would add that sometimes reading the verses in The Message translation (or a similar common language version) is helpful when the Scripture seems unclear.

      1. Christina Dodd says:

        “Alia”! Not sure how that z sneaked I’m!

  8. Alia McCants says:

    Thank you for asking this! I had the same wondering.

    1. Jeri says:

      Verses 2&5 are not talking about the same thing. Verse 2 talks about bearing one anothers burdens, which is connected to v1 talking about transgressions, which are a burden. We bear one anothers burdens which we are told to do. V 5 talks about each carrying his own load (different from burden) which is related to v4 where Paul speaks about testing your own work and not comparing to your neighbors, thus bearing your own load as your neighbor bears his own load. It is best to read Vs. 1-5 inclusive to get all of what Paul is saying, rather than isolating two verses that seem similar. Hope this helps.

      1. Teresa says:

        Great reply. Thank you, Jeri!

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