Sin among the saints should grieve the church, resulting in decisive corrective action, just as the sinner’s repentance should prompt joyful restoration.
1. What lessons should we learn from the way the church at Corinth responded to grievous sin among them?
We should learn that God takes sin in His church seriously, and that failing to obey Him in dealing with sin adversely impacts the church, as well as the wayward saint. Separation is not so much shunning unbelievers as it is dealing decisively with professing believers.
2. How does harboring sinners in the church negatively impact the sinner and the church?
Failing to discipline a sinning saint suggests that God does not take sin seriously. It encourages the sinner to persist in sin. It also leads to insensitivity to sin and further corruption in the church.
3. How did the Corinthians fail to rightly respond to the sinner who repented (2 Corinthians 2:5-11)?
The Corinthians were reluctant to acknowledge and accept the sinner’s repentance. They did not restore him to fellowship with the saints. In this way they made him vulnerable to attack by Satan.
Why do you think the believers (like us) are reluctant to exercise church discipline, even in cases of grievous sin? What are the implications of Paul’s example of “long distance discipline” in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5? Why do you think the whole church is obligated to deal with the unrepentant sinner? Apply It
Prepare a message on church discipline which is aimed at equipping and motivating the church to respond to sin if and when it next arises in the church (and it surely will). Digging Deeper
Why Paul’s Absence Should Make the Corinthian’s Hearts Grow Fonder (2 Cor 1:12-2:11), by Bob Deffinbaugh
Church Discipline: Taking Sin Seriously (1 Cor 5:1-13), by Bob Deffenbaugh