October 18, 2021
"Tolerance" is the vast, politically correct buzzword today. The world admonishes us to be tolerant of everyone and everything. The worst kinds of sin are paraded before us. If believers dare raise an objection, we are branded as intolerant. In the world's eyes, this is the worst sin possible.
But the Bible gives a contrasting message. To be tolerant of sin in our lives or the life of a fellow believer we love is not only not good but destructive to him. 1 Corinthians, Chapter 5 is a case study.
HOW DO YOU HELP A BROTHER OR SISTER WHO FALLS INTO SIN?
The church in Corinth had a man who professed to be a believer, but he was committing adultery with his stepmother. The church was not mourning this sin but tolerating it in the name of love and not humbly confronting the man.
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)
Paul reminds them that they are not helping the man nor the kingdom of God. The man would interpret their silence as agreement. It is the worst lack of love to see a brother going down in quicksand and not be loving enough to throw him a rope!
Also, a "little leaven will leaven the whole lump of dough," Paul said (verse 5). In other words, if you let such behavior go unchecked, it will become the new standard for your church, and more and more sin will enter the church. Conversely, if we help each other overcome sin, it will further purify the Body for the good of all.
If you continue this tolerance of evil, it will erode the church in ways that destroy the reputation of God to a watching world. We eventually have no distinct difference and are not showing the world that God can change lives and set people free from sin.
This man, Paul said, should be confronted—graciously, lovingly, Biblically—and called to repentance. Tolerance does not help him. So, Paul said they were to confront the man, even to the point of withdrawing fellowship from him, just as Jesus instructed in Matthew 18, in hopes that the loss of true fellowship would bring him to his senses.
I did a study with ninety men years ago on the issue of church restoration or church discipline, i.e., how do you help a brother who falls into sin. We discovered to our amazement, that it was directly taught or modeled in every book of the New Testament. There are many clear instructions about why, when, and how to confront a sinning brother.
The purpose of this confrontation is 3-fold:
FOLLOWING GOD'S WORD WORKS!
The Corinthians listened to Paul's counsel and did what he instructed. The man came to his senses and left his sin. Paul wrote the second letter to the Corinthians to tell them how to restore this repentant man to fellowship. Paul's thinking was that a true Christian, when confronted with his sin, will repent. If not, after repeated attempts, it will be illustrated that he is not a believer at all, and you have communicated to the world that true believers do not live in continual, unrepentant sin.
Again, in this passage, he is not saying that we shouldn't associate with immoral people who do not know God (see verses 9-13). But that we should love believing brothers enough to help them out of the quicksand of sin through loving, proper, humble confrontation.
Father, protect us from ourselves, from the foolishness that causes us to believe that what the world offers is better than Your will. When we do fall into sin, surround us with some believers who will love us enough to help us back to You. And give us the courage and the grace to do the same.
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