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Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment 4in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sexual Immorality Must Be Judged

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— 10not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”


4. When you are gathered together and my spirit — that is, when ye are gathered together with me, but in spirit, for they could not meet together as to bodily presence. He declares, however, that it would be all one as though he were personally present. It is to be carefully observed, that Paul, though an Apostle, does not himself, as an individual, excommunicate according to his own pleasure, but consults with the Church, that the matter may be transacted by common authority. He, it is true, takes the lead, and shows the way, but, in taking others as his associates, he intimates with sufficient plainness, that this authority does not belong to any one individual. As, however, a multitude never accomplishes anything with moderation or seriousness, if not governed by counsel, there was appointed in the ancient Church a Presbytery, 275275     “Qu’on appeloit le Presbytere;” — “What they called a Presbytery.” that is, an assembly of elders, who, by the consent of all, had the power of first judging in the case. From them the matter was brought before the people, but it was as a thing already judged of. 276276     “Puis apres la chose estoit renuoyee au peuple par eux, avec un advertissement touteffois de ce qui leur en sembloit;” — “The matter was afterwards brought by them before the people, with an intimation, however, of their views respecting it.” See Calvin’s Institutes, volume 3, pp. 233-5. — Ed. Whatever the matter may be, it is quite contrary to the appointment of Christ and his Apostles — to the order of the Church, and even to equity itself, that this right should be put into the hands of any one man, of excommunicating at his pleasure any that he may choose. Let us take notice, then, that in excommunicating this limitation be observed — that this part of discipline be exercised by the common counsel of the elders, and with the consent of the people, and that this is a remedy in opposition to tyranny. For nothing is more at variance with the discipline of Christ than tyranny, for which you open a wide door, if you give one man the entire power.

In the name of our Lord For it is not enough that we assemble, if it be not in the name of Christ; for even the wicked assemble together for impious and nefarious conspiracies. Now in order that an assembly may be held in Christ’s name, two things are requisite: first, that we begin by calling upon his name; and secondly, that nothing is attempted but in conformity with his word. Then only do men make an auspicious commencement of anything that they take in hand to do, when they with their heart call upon the Lord that they may be governed by his Spirit, and that their plans may, by his grace, be directed to a happy issue; and farther, when they ask at his mouth, as the Prophet speaks, (Isaiah 30:2,) that is to say, when, after consulting his oracles, they surrender themselves and all their designs to his will in unreserved obedience. If this is becoming even in the least of our actions, how much less ought it to be omitted in important and serious matters, and least of all, when we have to do with God’s business rather than our own? For example, excommunication is an ordinance of God, and not of men; on any occasion, therefore, on which we are to make use of it, where shall we begin if not with God. 277277     “Le nom de Dieu;” — “The name of God.” In short, when Paul exhorts the Corinthians to assemble in the name of Christ, he does not simply require them to make use of Christ’s name, or to confess him with the mouth, (for the wicked themselves can do that,) but to seek him truly and with the heart, and farther, he intimates by this the seriousness and importance of the action.

He adds, with the power of our Lord, for if the promise is true,

As often as two or three are gathered together in my name,
I am in the midst of them, (Matthew 18:20,)

it follows, that whatever is done in such an assembly is a work of Christ. Hence we infer, of what importance excommunication, rightly administered, is in the sight of God, inasmuch as it rests upon the power of God. For that saying, too, must be accomplished,

Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. (Matthew 18:18.)

As, however, this statement ought to fill despisers 278278     “Contempteurs de Dieu;” — “Despisers of God.” with no ordinary alarm, so faithful pastors, as well as the Churches generally, are by this admonished in what a devout spirit 279279     “En quelle crainte et obeissance: — “With what fear and obedience.” they should go to work in a matter of such importance. For it is certain that the power of Christ is not tied to the inclination or opinions of mankind, but is associated with his eternal truth.

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