It is natural to wish for a smooth life when serving Christ and the assembly of believers. So it should be, and it can be if the members are dedicated and possess spiritual vision. Daily Bible reading is the foundation for creating this. Our reading today of Paul’s admonition to the believers at Corinth contains an important lesson of the need to take action when necessary, but any action must be undertaken in love, just as when parents see it necessary to discipline their child out of love.
We read, “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!” (1 Corinthians 5:1,2). It does not say his mother, so we presume she has died and this is his father’s second wife. Why were they arrogant? Had their broadmindedness created this? Such pride is growing in many parts of the world today, a spirit of permissiveness that all things that do not hurt anyone are allowable.
Paul says, “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (verse 6). As a permissive spirit spreads it corrupts everything, just like rust. This was starting to happen among the believers in Corinth and Paul is very concerned. He says, “you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (verse 5).
It is not clear what “to deliver” means. In his second letter to them Paul writes of how “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” (12:7). Paul came to realize the positive side of this from God’s point of view and wrote, “for the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses … for when I am weak, then I am strong” (verse 10).
What is the type of strength that really matters? It is brought about by situations that cause believers to really know and trust in their Lord.
As this world grows more godless, believers must stand firm by Christ’s principles. “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother (or sister) if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler …” (5:11). Note his words in his second letter (chapter 2:2-8) and the good results that standing firm lead to in this case.