1 Corinthians 5

Chapter five is a hard chapter to swallow for this present age. So many people are so worried
about being judgmental. Many people seem to think being judgmental is a mortal sin and merits
hell even when simply accused of it. It may lead to mortal sin, but is not in itself. Paul clarifies
this issue with the issue of his day. It seems there was a man who was committing adultery with
his mother. Paul even says the pagans did not do that.
Paul is upset that the people did nothing about it. The early Christians struggled with their faith
as well. Then he talks of shunning as a valid use of reprimanding. But this shunning is not about
those who left the faith. It is not for those who are not Christians; as Paul says, “God will judge
them” (v13). He has very clear and concise reasoning for the actions he expects the faithful to
do. He starts with the yeast idea. The loaf is the church and the faithful as a whole. What is
outside of the mix does not contaminate the loaf, so it is with those who are not of this
community. When people see the community and see contaminants in it, it causes scandal, and
the taste it leaves becomes repulsive. This keeps others from Christ and His Church. So people
outside the church cannot contaminate the loaf of the Church. If anything, it should make the
Church more tasteful, seeing the goodness of its flavor. The contaminants must be gotten rid of.
In fact, what Paul has done to this person is an example of one of the first excommunications.
Excommunications are not meant to be permanent. They are meant to shock and make a
person realize how far away they have gotten from Jesus. That is exactly what Paul means by
when he says, “As for me, though absent in body I am present in spirit, and have already
passed sentence in the name of Our Lord Jesus, I hand him over to Satan for the destruction of
his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (v3-5). This is serious stuff. But
even today, people choose to judge Paul in this matter, so big have our heads become towards
God and His anointed ones. If it was not God’s will, this curse would never take effect. If you
read the text closer, you will see that Jesus gave him the ability to read souls. This is evident
when Paul says, “I am present in spirit” (v3). Paul has been given the task to govern the Church
and God has endowed him with the abilities to fulfill that task with special gifts.
The judgment is for those in the Church, not the world. This is how the Church thinks. It makes
no declaration on things outside its governance, but only those who have put themselves under
the Church. Paul talks about a previous letter where he warned of eating with immoral people.
He clarifies that he was not talking about eating only with other moral Christians. That would
require everybody to lock themselves in, kind of like today with the coronavirus. You cannot
avoid the world. We have been given the task of converting the world. We are called to call
them to a better way of life in Jesus. But when we see our “brother” (in Christ) sinning severely
(v11), we have an obligation to correct. This Paul capitalizes on when he rhetorically asks, “Is it
not those inside the community you must judge?” (v12). Yet it should always be done out of love
for their soul and the souls they affect. There are boundaries to this, but let it suffice to say the
Church does have a right in God’s eyes to set us straight. So the “who am I to judge” mantra is
an invalid idea as it applies to the Church. Like confession, we go to confession to confess our
own sins, not for another’s sins, so we as a Church judge ourselves. We go to confession and
judge ourselves so that we can continue to be free. In the same way the Church judges herself.
Only in this way can we become a light to the world as Jesus commands us.