Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 4 & 5
The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished…Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. – Proverbs 16:5,18
One of the saddest things to watch is when someone in leadership messes up. Whether it is politician or a pastor or simply a highly respected individual in the church or community. So often we watch someone, who has been blessed in SO many ways, start thinking SO highly of themselves that they have an affair or are caught in some kind of ungodly or illegal behavior.
Pride is so dangerous and Satan loves to convince us that we are invincible and that we deserve what we want – “no one will know, you can do anything, you are powerful and can make your own choices.” The lies of the enemy take hold and our own arrogance causes us to fall into the trap.
What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift? – 1 Corinthians 4:7b
You think you already have everything you need. You think you are already rich. You have begun to reign in God’s kingdom without us! – 1 Corinthians 4:8a
…you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed. – 1 Corinthians 4:10b
Paul warned the Corinthian Church of how destructive their arrogance and pride was becoming. He cared about these believers and he wanted them to serve God and not their own selfish ambitions. He knew they needed accountability in order to stay focused on the gospel and not on themselves. Paul’s words of instruction and warning to the Church in Corinth are helpful for all of us to listen to as well.
Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come – and soon – if the Lord lets us, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit. – 1 Corinthians 4:18-21
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you – something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so PROUD of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship…
Your BOASTING about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? – 1 Corinthians 5:1-2,6
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
This is difficult to read. Where is grace and forgiveness within the family of God? I think it takes wisdom from God to handle a situation when a member of our church family continues to sin. It takes both love and strength to protect the congregation while also doing what we can to extend grace as we help a brother or sister turn from their sinful ways or addictions. We cannot use Paul’s words as permission to push someone away in disgust but instead to allow leadership to lovingly handle a situation. Remember, it was also Paul who said: “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should GENTLY and HUMBLY help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” – Galatians 6:1
A verse we studied when we looked at the book of Genesis comes to mind this morning. This verse warns us of Satan’s schemes to pull us away from God’s plan for our lives.
You will be accepted if you do right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. – Genesis 4:7
There is a famous recording of another Paul – Paul Harvey. In this 1964 recording, Mr. Harvey is warning America that sin is crouching at the door. If Satan could have our ear, he could convince us to live a life of generational sin that would change America as we know it. Sadly, what Paul Harvey described in 1965 is what we are experiencing today, whether you are listening to the original recording or the more recent edited version that is being passed around social media.
Lord, forgive us for thinking too much of ourselves instead of depending on you – as individuals, as the Church, and as a nation. Lord, heal our land and bring our eyes back in focus on you. Help us to recognize pride and arrogance in our own hearts. Give us wisdom in the Church to handle those inside the church who are continuing in sin – in love and in strength, protecting your congregation while doing what we can to turn a brother or sister from their sinful ways. We worship you in confidence, knowing that you are more powerful than the attempts of the enemy and you have equipped us with your Spirit for any battle that comes our way. We love you, Lord. Amen.