Saturday, 14 June 2014
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 1 Corinthians 5:11
This verse explicitly lays out what we need to know concerning our relationships with immoral people within the church. Though Paul had no problem with believers being with people who are morally deficient who are not believers, he explicitly states here what our relationship towards immoral believers should be. He says, “But now I have written to you…” This is his doctrine and this is his direction. What is leaving the tip of his pen is to be considered as from the Lord because he is the apostle to the Gentiles and is speaking on the Lord’s behalf.
And his words are that we are “not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who….” In other words, a person who claims to be a saved believer in Jesus Christ. If they are named among the roles of believers, we are to consider them in a separate category than non-believers. They are being held to a specific standard which he will now continue with as he notes “who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner.”
From his list in the previous verse, he adds in two new categories which should be defined –
1) Reviler – This is a person who is vulgar in his words. His speech is coarse, angry, defiant, and abusive. Such a person has no problem vilifying others in their character, hurting people’s feelings through speech, and demeaning those around them. Such an attitude is opposite to Christ who “when He was reviled, did not revile in return” (1 Peter 2:23).
2) Drunkard – A drunkard is a person addicted to alcohol; not specifically any person who drinks alcohol. A drunkard has no restraint over his drinking; it has conquered him and his allegiance is to it and not to Christ. Concerning the moderate drinking of alcohol, there is nothing wrong with doing so. The entire body of Scripture bears this out. However, like any other thing there are limits which must be exercised. These will be discussed in detail in the coming chapters of 1 Corinthians.
Paul says that of such a person as is named in his list, they are not to keep company with them, nor “even to eat with such a person.” By fellowshipping with someone in this category who claims to be a brother, you then implicitly condone their behavior. They will feel justified, and those around them who witness the fellowshipping will be left with the impression that what they are doing is acceptable to you and within the body of believers.
It should be noted though that Paul terms them “believers.” He never questions their salvation, but assumes that they are saved. Never in his writings does he say a person can “lose” their salvation. Instead, they may suffer great harms in this life and great loss at the judgment. But their status as believers is left between them and the Lord Jesus.
The purpose of Paul’s words is not condemnation, but purity and holiness within the body and an attempt to bring about remorse and a change in the offenders. This is what is expected and this is what we should always strive for.
Life application: Who are we exalting? At what cost are we willing to bring discredit upon the name of the Lord? We must always consider what our words, actions, and associations will do and how they will appear in the eyes of others. Above all, we should strive to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus Christ.
Lord God, how very far short of “holiness” I feel from day to day. Without thinking, I say things or do things which I am sure are displeasing to You and which diminish You in the eyes of others. Help me to think, in advance, of how my actions will be perceived and judged. Give me wisdom to stay away from corrupt actions and to fix my heart and attitude on purity and that which is honorable. This I pray for Your glory, O God. Amen.