The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians led me to dig deeper into what Paul was saying. I found this message from John Piper on this chapter that speaks about the role of the church when another believer is actively living a sinful, unrepentant life. Here is one excerpt from the message:
Toleration of Sin Is SinfulI think it should give us great pause—even shock us—that the diagnosis of the problem at Corinth is exactly the opposite from the diagnosis in many churches today. Today when discipline doesn't happen the diagnosis is often that we are too humble to discipline a person: Who are we to point our finger? Who are we to judge? Who are we to cast the first stone? And so a supposed humility is made the basis of tolerance of impenitent immorality in the church.
On the other hand, today if a church does follow through on discipline it is often diagnosed as coming straight from pharisaical pride. Indignation at sin is often portrayed as a cloak for insecurity and a veil over the Pharisees' own sexual temptations. A kind of "holier-than-thou" attitude is said to be the basis of the indignation and arrogance is said to be the basis of the excommunication.
Now that may be true. But does it give you pause and make you think hard and examine your hearts (it did me) when you read in verse 2 that Paul's diagnosis of the problem at Corinth was exactly the opposite? There, arrogance was the basis of tolerance, and broken-hearted humility should have been the basis of excommunication.
He said, "You have become arrogant." People in the church were actually boasting in this immorality. Now how could that be? What kind of theology would give rise to boasting in immorality? We have seen it in Paul's letters elsewhere. It says, "Let us sin that grace may abound" (Rom. 3:8; 6:1). So it's a theology that misunderstands the power of grace, and turns it into license. It's a theology that misunderstands freedom and uses it as "an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal. 5:13), and says (as they were saying at Corinth) "all things are lawful for me" (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). And so they were boasting in their freedom and in the tolerance of grace. Pride was the basis of sinful toleration not pharisaical judgment.
How often does our pride stand in the way of true sister/brotherhood in Christ? It's way more comfortable to point fingers at non-believers and try to hold them accountable to our beliefs than to get vulnerable and humble holding other believers accountable the way that Paul is instructing us in todays reading.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Psalms113-115, 1 Corinthians 6