Healthy Church: Temple Bodies, Part 1

April 4, 2023

Series: Healthy Church

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

This morning we are going to be in 1 Corinthians 5.  If you don’t have a bible you can grab one at the back and if you are a guest this morning we invite you to take our devotional with you as a gift.

If you are new this morning then you have missed out.  We have been studying through 1 Corinthians and at this point in the letter to the Corinthian church is starting to look like a reality television show.

In the first 4 chapters the primary theme is quarrels and conflicts and the quarrels and conflicts are the result of their spiritual immaturity as a whole, so that the Apostle Paul has been pressing in on them to grow and mature.

This morning, chapter 5 we are going to get to peak in behind the curtains around a topic of sexual immorality.  Usually at this point I would usually jump into the passage and we would study God’s Word but our culture today is very fascinated with sexuality, so we need to frame our conversation right at the beginning.

In our culture today, we are fascinated with sexuality.  First, we have pornography as a multi-billion-dollar industry from professional to amateur as regular people setting up cameras in their homes and charging people for content.

Second, we have availability and access at the touch of our fingers.  We have 2nd graders getting access to phones and tablets, so that they are able to start clicking on any and everything their imagination can consider.

Third, people are talking about sexual desires and sexual identifications at younger ages than ever and this is not only considered normal but celebrated in our day so when you bring up a conversation around sex on a Sunday morning it brings up a myriad of thoughts and feelings for everyone in the room.

So, I want to remind us this morning, sex isn’t gross.  Sex is created by the God of Scripture.  He created those body parts to feel what they feel and do what they do.  Therefore, we are looking at God’s Word this morning to consider what sexuality might look like for us today.  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 5, verse 1:

1 Corinthians 5:1, “1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and sexual immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, namely, that someone has his father’s wife.” 

Okay, a lot to unpack there.  First, if you look at the end of verse 1 we see a man is having sex with his father’s wife.  Let me let that sink in.  Is that his step-mom?  We don’t know.  Is that his adopted mom?  But in the context of the passage there is some sexual behavior taking place and they are wrestling with how to respond.

This is the conversation of our day right now around the world.  Everyone is questioning what is okay sexually and what isn’t okay sexually.

In general, our culture has concluded violating someone sexually is not okay.  In general, our culture has concluded getting consent is still important but what about a man having sex with his father’s wife?  Is that okay?

How do you decide what is okay and what isn’t okay?  In the context of the Corinthian church they find it socially and sexually acceptable.  If you scan down to verse 6 the Corinthian church is actually bragging about the sexual acceptance of this relationship in their church family, therefore, how does a person decide what’s okay sexually?

Imagine we aren’t gathering as the body of Christ this morning.  Imagine this is a conversation in your family or a conversation in your circle of friends.  Imagine if something like this became public knowledge, is this a concern for you personally?

Let’s make it even more personal, would you be okay with your spouse or future spouse having sex with their adult step-children or adult adopted children?  If not, why not?  Would you be okay with your sibling having sex with your father’s wife?  If not, why not?

Is it determined by Tik-Tok trends?  Is your level of comfort just based on your experiences?  In Obama’s he openly states marriage is between man and woman but by 2012 he changed his position?  I am not picking on Obama.  I voted for him twice!  But these questions around sexuality aren’t going anywhere, so where will you land or will you just bend and bob with the culture?

Let’s get back to verse 1.  It’s possible the word “reported” rubs you the wrong way.  It’s possible it sounds like there is a “secret church police” but really that word “reported” in the original language just means these allegations are factual.

The Apostle Paul and the Corinthian church have been writing letters back and forth to each other, so that what is being discussed in verse 1 isn’t hypothetical, hearsay, but actually taking place in the local church.

And, it’s important to know the words “sexual immorality” are an all-encompassing phrase that speaks to any sexual activity that happens outside of marriage between husband and wife.  Write that in your devotional.  Sexual immorality is any sexual activity that happens outside of marriage between husband and wife.

This includes sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, three-somes or more, sex with children, pornography, visual or literal or audio sexual activity, petting, sexting, oral sex, same sex, virtual sex, animal sex, any sexual activity that happens outside of marriage between husband and wife is described in scripture as “sexual immorality.”  Look at verse 2:

1 Corinthians 5:2, “2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst”.

In verse 2 the Corinthian church isn’t grieved by what’s taking place in their church family but instead they are proud and to understand verse 2 we need to understand the Corinthian culture a little.

The Corinthian culture was incredibly sexually active.  They were sexually tolerant.  They were sexually explorative.  Their motto was, “If it feels good, do it!”

The Corinthian people had temples of worship around sexual activity with 1,000’s of temple prostitutes, so that going to visit a prostitute would have been as common as going to the movies.

It would have been expected.  Sexually open marriages were the norm, therefore, when a Corinthian man or woman expressed faith in Jesus they were a people who were turning from the cultural sexual values of the day to live with a commitment of sex in marriage between husband and wife.

In addition, in our passage this morning isn’t really

a man having sex with his father’s wife.  That’s mentioned in verse 1 and then the rest of the passage is toward the church family as a whole and how they respond because there was some confusion in the Corinthian church.

It’s possible the Corinthian church was leaning too much on God’s grace and forgiveness.  It’s possible they were assuming they were forgiven in Christ, therefore, what their lives looked like sexually didn’t matter.  We see that in our culture today.  Jesus will forgive me.

It’s also possible the Corinthian church had concluded what they did with their physical bodies didn’t matter.  The assumption was their relationship with God was so spiritual that the physical didn’t matter.

We see that in our culture today as well when people say things like, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”  It’s just my body.  It’s just physical it didn’t mean anything.

We don’t know for sure, but there is definitely confusion because in verse 2 the Apostle Paul is asking, “Why have you not removed this person from your church family?”  Do you see that in verse 2?

If you scan down to verse 5, “Why have you not delivered this person over to Satan?”  We will talk about what that means.  Verse 7, “Why have you not cleaned out this sinful behavior?”  Verse 11, “Why are you associating with this person?”  Verse 13, “Why have you not purged this person from your midst?”

And I am sure that some of those responses sound harsh for some of us this morning but we’re wrestling with any challenge in any organization of people, “What do you do when people are no longer aligning themselves with foundational beliefs?”  How do you respond?

What do you do if you throw a kid’s birthday party and one of the kid starts running around and beating everyone with a baseball bat?  You can’t just say, “Love is love.”   What do you do in a family when someone is abusive to someone?  What do you do in a circle of friends when someone is stealing from the group?  Look at verse 3:

1 Corinthians 5:3, “3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.” 

Remember, the Apostle Paul spent a year and a half with them but at the writing of this letter he isn’t there physically, so he says, “I am there spiritually and something needs to be done.”  Look at verse 4-5:

1 Corinthians 5:4-5, “4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to turn such a person over to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”

In verses 3-5 the Apostle Paul begins to give practical steps for how we are to respond.  I am guessing the phrase, “turn such a person over to Satan for the destruction of his body” has most of our attention, so let’s start there.

That phrase can’t mean they are to physically kill him and remove him, because in the following verses he tells them not to associate with him or eat with him and you can’t eat with someone who is dead.

The idea of “turning someone over to Satan” is better understood to mean “get out of their way.”  In those moments that person is heading toward death and darkness, they are unwilling to listen, they are unwilling to turn from their sin, therefore, get out of their way so that they might have as much death and darkness as possible.  Does that make sense?

The phrase “hand them over to Satan” is really a response of grace.  Let them feast on death and darkness so that they see death and darkness for what it is and turn from death and darkness.

Remember this isn’t a one-time offense.  This isn’t a person who is soft-hearted.  This isn’t a person asking for help.  This isn’t a person wrestling with God’s Word.

This is a person who is professing faith in Jesus and celebrating death and darkness for so long that the Apostle Paul and the Corinthian church have been able to write multiple letters to each other back and forth.

Again, a person might be thinking, “Shouldn’t the body of Christ be loving toward people.”  Yes but at some point someone has to draw the line for the good of the whole.

It would be weird to show up on a Sunday morning, lift our hands in worship, proclaim the glory of God, proclaim the forgiveness of sin and have community group leaders in long-standing sexual relationships with their father’s wife, right?  Look at verses 6:

1 Corinthians 5:6, “6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?”

In verses 6 we see a baking illustration because who doesn’t think of baking when you are talking about sexual immorality?  First, in the ancient world, bakers would keep raw dough with yeast cultures that are added to the batch so that the leaven spreads throughout the dough and the dough rises, so that the leaven is an illustration for how repeated, habitual, sinfulness of one person influences the whole church family in north Austin.  Does that make sense?

Listen to me, we’re all sinners.  We’re not trying to act like we’re perfect.  We all have layers of our life that are growing in Christ but when repeated, habitual sin takes place in the church family in Austin, TX it spreads like a weed and chokes out the spiritual life of a church family in north Austin.

Did you know our sin affects the body of Christ as a whole?  We tell ourselves, “It’s just one little sin, it’s not hurting anyone?”  But that’s not what God’s Word is teaching.  God’s Word is teaching us our spiritual lives are connected in Christ.  Look at verse 7:

1 Corinthians 5:7, “7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.”

In verse 7 the Apostle Paul an Old Testament reference of the Passover.  In the book of Exodus Israel puts the blood of the lamb for every door post, so that the angel of death passes over every house covered by the blood of the lamb, so that the Apostle Paul is saying, “In Christ, we have already been made clean of the old leaven.”  In Christ we have been made new.  That’s the gospel.

Jesus has taken our sin at the cross.  We say our “sin” isn’t that big of a deal but we know our sin is hurtful to one another.  It’s why we cancel one another, cut one another off.

Our sin isn’t just hurtful to people but our sin is hurtful to God.  Our sin is a cosmic offense and Jesus comes to take our cosmic offense at the cross.

This is why we celebrate Good Friday next week.  Jesus’ death at the cross is our substitute.  Jesus stands in our place at the cross, so that we might be made clean, therefore, the Apostle Paul is asking, “Why are you going back?”  We’ve been made new, why are you going back to the old.  We’ve seen the light, why are you going back to darkness?

Listen to me church family, these churches in Austin can put out flags of “We Welcome Everyone” but that isn’t entirely true because at some point someone is going to go too far and someone has to say, “That’s too far!”

Everyone loves to quote Jesus in John 8 when Jesus says, “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.”  But at the end of the passage Jesus turned to the woman caught in adultery and says, “Go, and sin no more.” Look at verse 8:

1 Corinthians 5:8, “8 Therefore let’s celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Leaven was a symbol of sinfulness.  Just as the dough would rise and swell, so would repeated, habitual, unrepentant sin rise and swell, therefore, the Apostle Paul is exhorting the Corinthian church to growth and maturity in Christ.  Do you see that in verse 8?

This language of “sincerity” means to be singular in devotion.  In Christ, we’re not called to live a divided life.  We’re not supposed to have a public life of holiness, devotion and reverence and a private life of death and darkness.

As a church family in Austin, TX, we are focusing on building strong relationship with one another.  We don’t want to be fake with one another.  We don’t want to have to project an image with one another.

And at the same time, we don’t want to wallow in death and darkness with one another.  We want to exhort one another to the lives we have in Christ.  We want to remind one another we have been made clean, we have been made new in Christ.

Have you ever seen a child be disrespectful to one parent and then try to warm up to the other parent?  In that moment there is disunity in their relationship with their parent and they are trying to cover it up by warming up to the other parent.

But in those moments, we would do better to turn them back to the offended parent to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, so that the family might be restored to sincerity and truth.  That’s the idea of our passage this morning.  Look at verse 9-10:

1 Corinthians 5:9-10, “9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the greedy and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to leave the world.”

Make sense, right?  First, we’re not just talking about sexual immorality.  Embracing habitual, repeatable greed is a problem.  Celebrating people taking advantage of others over and over is a problem.  Being proud of idol worship around money, sex, food, our country, politics, fill in the blank, are all a concern.

Second, we’re not talking about the world at large.  This passage doesn’t mean we should only have Christian friends in Austin, send our kids to Christian schools in Austin and watch Christian movies in Austin.  We’re talking about the spiritual health of a church family.  Look at verses 11-13:

1 Corinthians 5:11-13, “11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the evil person from among yourselves.”

Isn’t that good?  So, let’s end our time with a spiritual checkup for our church family.

As we close, I want to invite our worship team up and give us some time to reflect.

Passage:  1 Corinthians 5:1-13, “Temple Bodies, Part 1.”

Reflect:   Is there a part of my life that is willingly wallowing in death and darkness?

Is there a part or parts of our life that is wallowing in death and darkness?  Is there a pattern of habitual sin?  Is there a part or parts of our faith where we have become divided, living public and private lives?

I am sure the Holy Spirit has brought many things to mind this morning.  Maybe things done or said to us?  Maybe things we have done, said, or thought?

Listen to me, if there is a voice in your head right now that is speaking shame, guilt, and condemnation.  That’s not God.  The voice of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction of our sin, set us free from by sin by lifting our eyes to Jesus.

Jesus is the One who bring forgiveness.  Jesus is the One come to make us whole.  Jesus is the One who comes to put our sin to death at the cross, therefore, we want to turn to Jesus this morning.  Trust in Him.

Repentance:  Turn to Jesus.  Confess to Jesus.  Ask for His help.

Listen to me, if you have never trust in Jesus, turn to Him today.  Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, believe in your heart that He resurrected from the dead.  There is no sexual immorality greater than Jesus, no greed, abuse, idolatry, or drunkenness that is greater than Jesus but you have to turn to Jesus.

Rejoice:  Jesus has come to set us free!  

We rejoice because Jesus has come to make us clean.  We rejoice because life in Jesus is better than life in darkness.  We rejoice because obeying Jesus and His Word is better.  Living a life of generosity is better than greed.  Biblical sexuality is better in Jesus because He created sex.  Will you pray with me?