I was asked the question earlier today, “What about the scripture that says, ‘Give them over to satan? Does that mean to kick them out of the church?”
Thankfully this was an honest question. As a side note… I’ve found that people who fully embrace God’s grace start asking honest questions. Those who do not fully embrace God’s grace tend to ask accusing questions. This was an honest question. And, just FYI, the question was a little more thorough than that…
Let’s look at this passage in context.
1 Corinthians 5:1-8 NASB
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. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Let’s talk about what’s going on in the Corinthian church.
Here we have a group of people who are extremely carnal and yet they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” – obviously there is some sort of dysfunction.
Notice that Paul tells the Corinthians, “You have become arrogant…” and “Your boasting is not good…”
HYPOTHESIS: The Corinthians were seeing so many supernatural manifestations that they had probably concluded that they were able to call the shots on their own morality. That, essentially, they had reached a point of maturity that they could do whatever they felt like. They were treating the grace of God as a license to sin.
It is dangerous to be so arrogant as to think that our own personal morality is “good enough.” While we are fully accepted through the finished work of Christ, we must never forget that it is by His work alone that we are saved. Our personal morality is, at it’s best, absolutely detestable before a holy God. When we forget this, the law can no longer show us our need for Christ.
So Paul closes the passage by telling us to celebrate the finished work of Jesus…
… not with the old leaven of the law. We are no longer under law, but under grace. We cannot gain God’s acceptance through our obedience to the law, but only by the glorious finished work of the cross. It is foolish for us to try to complete in the flesh what was begun in the spirit.
… not with the leaven of malice and wickedness. Grace is not a license to sin. If grace were a license to sin, then grace would be of the law… for it would need the law to permit our newly gained rights to do whatever we wish without the judgment of God. The wrath of God has not been removed, it has been absorbed. The wrath of God towards the believer’s sin was still poured out… but (Praise God!) it was poured out on Jesus!
… but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We now celebrate this new life in Christ with sincerity, instead of pretentiousness, and truth, honestly assessing our own worthiness while living in the worthiness of Christ. While we are not under law, nor given a license, we are able to come boldly before the throne of God’s grace!
Praise God for His glorious grace!
Now… I know your thinking, “That didn’t even answer the guy’s question…” True! But I did answer his question… And you can read my practical answer in part 2 of this blog… it’ll be here in a few days!