Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Discipline Among Believers

Devotions for May 22, 2007

Proverbs 22
1 Corinthians 5

"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." ( 1 Corinthians 5:11)

First Paul dealt with the problem of disunity that was occurring because of the divided following of different spiritual leaders. Now, Paul turns to an even more difficult teaching on how to bring discipline among believers. There obviously was a problem with incest and no one was willing to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, people were boasting about it. Paul says kick those people out of the church. No questions asked. No mercy talked about. Just kick them out.

The reason Paul gives for this hard line is that when unrepentant sin continues within a community of believers, it will grow in other areas. He writes that Jesus didn't go to the cross for this. He was sacrificed to bring us new life, not death through sin.

Finally, Paul writes that he is clearly teaching about believers. He is not condemning those outside of the faith. His finger is pointing at followers of Jesus who choose to continue to walk in sin. No matter what the sin is, if it is an ongoing, unrepentant sin, kick the person out.

This is some really tough teaching from Paul. None of us are perfect. All of us sin. But here's the thing, I believe we are more interested in being liked by other believers than truly loving them. So we don't speak the truth in love. We see someone who is walking in an ongoing, unrepentant sin, but we don't say anything because we don't want to look like we are judging them or being closed mind. Paul says that it is our responsibility to judge that behavior and call each other on it.

If we don't step up our call and emphasis on personal holiness then that sin will begin to grow, it will spread into other areas. The point of our community of faith will no longer be obedience to God, but our own pleasure.

This is an incredibly difficult road to follow. But the reality is, this discipline among believers is all about love and obedience to God. This is a powerful teaching that we need to find a healthy way to embrace in the Church today.

Holy and Everlasting God, I know you are perfect in every way. I realize that you cannot have sin near you because of your perfection and holiness. I admit that calling sin a sin in someone else's life is extremely difficult. Help me to see my own sin and repent of it. Help me to love the people of Charter Oak Church so much that I am willing to speak the truth in love to each one of them. Give all of us a teachable and humble heart that will allow us to hear what you want in our lives. I love you more than I love my bent for personal pleasure. I want to be obedient to you in all aspects of my life, down to the last detail. Send your Holy Spirit to guide and direct me according to your ways. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.