The Problems in Corinthians 5

by Neal Pollard

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There was a Sin Problem (1).

It is concerning this sin problem that Paul goes into great detail from chapter 5-7. The general issue was fornication (sexual immorality), but the specifics of it were egregious. A man had his father’s wife. This was perverse and incestuous.

It should have been obvious to the Corinthian Christians that such was as out of step with Christian living as anything could be. It was a problem beyond the norm seen in the ungodly Gentile culture.

Serious immorality tainted the image and purity of Christ’s body. It is ever so.

There was an Attitude Problem (2).

This is seen both by what they did and did not do.

They did not show godly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11). Instead, they evidenced sinful pride.

This is an enigma. Were they proud to have a brother in Christ in fellowship who was committing immorality with his father’s wife? Were they prominent Corinthians? Whatever the reason for their being “puffed up,” Paul exposes it as a serious attitude issue.

Any reaction toward sin short of working to get it corrected or disciplined reveals attitude problems.

There was a Spirituality Problem (3-8).

They had been more focused on the flesh, glorying in a bad situation, than trying to save the spirit of this rebellious man. They failed to see the spiritual impact this had on the whole congregation.

How easy it is for us to focus on what is seen, the fleshly, and neglect or ignore the unseen, spiritual matters! We see what can happen when this happens among us.

There was an Association Problem (9-11).

Paul had written them before about not fellowshipping the disorderly, but now he is writing them again with further specifics and cautions. Paul’s warning was stern and the level of disassociation is comprehensive. We commonly refer to this process as church discipline.

Paul’s conclusion on this matter is, “Put away from you the evil person” (13). We may have a hard time calling a rebellious, sinful brother “evil,” but Paul did not. He highlights the growing problem of allowing evil to go unnoticed, undisciplined, and unchecked. Eventually,
it can destroy the identity of a church as the bride of Christ.

We must always have the greatest concern for pleasing and obeying the Lord. The ultimate goal is also to save the souls of all who are part of the local congregation.

This occurs through proper teaching, fellowship and support of one another, love, and, when all else fails, “putting away from us” those who refuse to repent and return to right living.

Stark and disturbing? Certainly. Biblical? Absolutely!

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