Below is a little devotion put out by the Proverbs 31 ministries:
To Judge or Not to Judge
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (NIV) “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked person from among you.’”
To judge or not to judge. That is the issue. Scripture teaches we are not to judge others. (Matthew 7:1-5; James 4:11-12) Judging is God’s job. Yet in this passage, Paul seems to say otherwise.
Scandal rocked the Corinthian church. A man, most likely a teacher or leader within the church, was “sleeping with his father’s wife” (probably stepmother) in an ongoing incestuous relationship. Jewish law explicitly forbids such behavior. (Leviticus 18:8) Even the immoral and perverse Corinthian culture considered this relationship shocking.
When Paul learned of it, appalled as he was at the sin itself, his anger and disgust burned because of the church’s response. He expected grief and shame. Yet the church not only failed to address their brother’s sin, they tolerated it.
It’s important to note, Paul was not asking the church to declare sexual immorality a sin. God had already done that. The church, if it had taken action, would have been acting in agreement with God. God’s holiness necessitates consequences, sometimes immediate (as here) and sometimes in stages (Matthew 18:15-17), when His people willingly and continually use their bodies as instruments of sin with no evidence of remorse, sorrow or repentance.
Paul stepped in and took immediate action. He condemned the church and set forth a process of discipline. A timeless message that still applies today.
He called on the church to expel the man. To send him out of the church and back into the world. Not to be vindictive but to protect the church. The Church is the bride of Christ, called to reflect Jesus’ goodness and holiness (Ephesians 5:25-27) in the midst of a sinful, wicked world. Sin is a spiritual cancer that, if allowed to remain, will spread and infect the church and its members.
Later in the passage, Paul makes a clear distinction. This discipline applies only to believers. Sharing the gospel is a delicate dance. Jesus’ call to go into all the world and share the gospel necessitates we live in the world. But we are not to be of the world. The world lives by a different set of standards. Because they live by different morals and values, we cannot hold those living outside the church to the same standards we hold those living in the church, meaning those who profess Jesus as their Savior. We cannot judge them for what they do not know. We leave their judgment to God who alone knows the hearts of men.
So, yes, we are called to judge. But only in very defined circumstances within the four walls of the church. And in exercising that judgment, we must examine our own hearts first. Our motives must be pure and for the good of the church as a whole. And we are never to judge those outside the church.
My biggest concern is the “altering” of scripture. I find that once sin has occurred or someone is immersed within the sin, people begin to change their tune regarding what the scriptures say about that sin.
I had a woman once say, “Well didn’t the church change their stance regarding divorce?” I replied stunned and said, “Well did God change His stance on divorce in the bible?” The answer and idea to all of this is no, He hasn’t changed and He won’t change. Sin hasn’t changed since the garden and God hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God but we can have redemption through Him.
Christians are held to a different standard then non-Christians. If we see a fellow brother or sister, in Christ, stumble then we are to help them get back up. We are to approach our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in a loving, but truthful way, to bring light to their sin.
As we approach the sinner we need to remember we are sinner as well. We are not to approach with pride. We approach them knowing, “it could have been me”, that made that choice, we are only a blink away from any sin. If we come with humility our voice becomes a whisper and God’s becomes magnified. It is through our sinful words that judgement happens but through the Spirit’s words that redemption and restoration takes place.
(I am hoping that divorce won’t be the defining point in this. I am trying not to open a can of worms regarding that subject but just to imply that what the scripture says does not “evolve” with the culture.)
Thank you Jesus for your saving blood!!!