1 Corinthians 5:1-2 – “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”
If you know anything about the church in Corinth during Paul’s day, you know of its dysfunction. Think about the verses that I referenced above in 1 Corinthians 5:1-2. “A man has his father’s wife.” Now, most likely this is referring to a man’s step-mother and not his actual Mother, because Paul would have probably written, “A man has his Mother.” But still, a man having sexual relations with his step-mother is messed up! But if you think this Jerry Springer sort of scenario is all that the church in Corinth dealt with, think again.
There were major factions in the church. One such division of the church was a liberal group who blended pagan Greek ideas with Scripture in order to justify sexual immorality. The sexual immorality included a variety of lewd sexual practices.
In addition to divisions and sexual immorality, Paul described social snobbery; confusion about marriage and divorce, the resurrection of Christians; and disorder in public worship. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed issues such as arrogance, self-centeredness, marginalizing the weak and poor, in addition to addressing the specific actions that their sin was leading to. Overall, the church was a mess! The ESV Study Bible puts it well: “At the root of much of the immorality and idolatry in Corinth, lay a lack of appreciation for the holiness that God requires of his people.” What a true statement that is!
There is something sick and twisted that we enjoy about reading about churches like the one in Corinth, isn’t there. We are a people who love drama when it is about someone else. The internet is filled with blogs where people share about their horrible church experiences, their abusive pastors, and their dysfunctional church culture. We love to look in at those experiences and confidently say, “God, I am so thankful my church is not like that.” We love to look at people’s lives that are disasters and confidently say to God, “I am so thankful my life is not as bad as that person’s life.” There is a sick and sinful attitude that we have as people who love to look at the dysfunction around us so that we can elevate ourselves higher to try to make ourselves look good.
As followers of Christ who have been redeemed from your dysfunction and brokenness, you should break with compassion when you see churches struggle and believers fall. You should break with an attitude of hurt and anger at sin as you see the enemy seize control. You should humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, pleading with him that you would not go the same way as your hurting and possibly deceived brothers and sisters. You should recognize very quickly how you are not invincible and that all Satan needs is an attitude of pride for him to do some damage within you.
May God break our hearts for what breaks his! May he either make us humble, or keep us humble depending on the state of our hearts. May he deepen our understanding of His holiness so that we would pursue both personal and corporate holiness as His people!