Saturday, July 11, 2015

Purge the Evil from Among You

I’d like to discuss a sensitive topic, which is purging the evil from the Church. The apostle Paul said, “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1Co 5:13b).  He was referring to a man in the Corinthian church who had slept with his father’s wife. The woman may not have been his mother, but was still his father’s wife.   There are no New Testament verses that explicitly forbid this particular practice, but only a general prohibition against sexual immorality and adultery. Yet according to the Law, this practice is evil and forbidden. Here are the Scriptures that say so:

Sexual Morality is Based on God's Law
'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness.” (Lev 18:8)

'If there is a man who lies with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (Lev 20:11)

"A man shall not take his father's wife so that he will not uncover his father's skirt.” (Deu 22:30)

“'Cursed is he who lies with his father's wife, because he has uncovered his father's skirt.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen.'” (Deu 27:20)

God makes it clear that if anyone lies with his father’s wife, he uncovers her nakedness, and in so doing he uncovers his father’s nakedness. That is why a man is forbidden from doing so. Such a man is cursed, and God commanded that the couple that do so shall be put to death. So we see that under the New Covenant, Paul still upheld the Law, but rather than putting the brother who did this to death, he instructed the Corinthians to expel him from the church.

Removing the Wicked Man is Based on God's Law
When Paul told them to “remove the wicked man from among yourselves”, he was citing and upholding the Law, which says, we must purge the evil from among us.  There are many verses in which God commands us to purge the evil from among us.  Here they are:

"But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deu 13:5)

"The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deu 17:7)

"The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deu 17:12)

“Then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deu 19:19)

“Then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deu 22:21)

"If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deu 22:22)

“Then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deu 22:24)

"If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deu 24:7)

Two or Three Witnesses Based on God's Law
None of this was to be done based on the testimony of one person, but on the testimony of two or three witnesses everything was established.  "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” (Deu 19:15).  Both the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul quoted this verse in Mat. 18:16; 2Co. 13:1; and 1Ti. 5:19.

In the book of Hebrews, Paul elaborates further on this verse from Deuteronomy and how it applies to the New Testament believer:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb 10:26-31)

So as you can see, the will of God is still to purge the evil from among us, even in the New Testament.   In fact the punishment is more severe, according to Hebrews 10:29. The stakes are much higher now than they were under the Law of Moses.

It has always been the Lord’s will to uphold His holy standard among His chosen people. And those who do not live according to that standard perish unless they repent. The Lord used His appointed priests and judges to carry out the judgment in such cases. "The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.” (Deu 17:12-13)

Under the New Covenant, He has appointed elders over the churches to judge such cases, as in the example of Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11). “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things” (Act 5:11). The same happened likewise the case of the sexual immoral man in the Corinthian church.  The apostle Paul judged him and expected the church to execute that judgment. He said, “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. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1Co 5:3-5)

The Corinthian church did obey Paul’s instructions on this matter and expelled the immoral man from their midst. We are not to associate with immoral people who call themselves brothers or sisters. Later after the man was punished, he repented, and Paul instructed them to forgive him and love him (2Co 2:6-11). 

While God’s plan is still to use the elders in the churches to carry out His judgments, how many pastors, elders, and apostles are actually doing so? Is it because they don’t have the courage? Is it because they don’t know God’s standard of holiness? Is it because they fail to realize that this is their duty? Whatever the reason is for the laxness in this area among the church authorities, it is clear from Scripture that this process requires the cooperation of the whole church.  For when you see your brother in sin, you are supposed to take action. This is where the two or three witnesses do their duty to God. Let’s look at those passages:

"So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Mat 18:14-20)

Notice the power of two or three! When two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there with them in their midst. When two or three agree about anything they ask, the heavenly Father shall do it for them. Likewise, every fact shall be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses. And whatever they bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, including these judgments upon immoral brethren in their midst. But it all begins with a single brother who sees his brother sin.  The Lord said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private…” You must go to him and speak to him about it.  It may not need to go any further than that. If he listens and repents, then you have won your brother.  If not, then you take the extra steps of taking two or three others with you to address the issue with him. That way the matter will be confirmed by the proper quorum. If the errant one refuses to listen to them, then the matter must be brought to the church authorities. And at that point, if the sinful brother refuses to listen, the Lord commanded that he be expelled, as Paul also taught.

This is the due process afforded to everyone who practices sin in the church. This is justice. It’s quite fair and merciful, as there are plenty of opportunities for repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.  But when the wicked person has no respect for the presence of the Lord in this process, he or she deserves to be expelled, because we must purge the evil from our midst. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. Therefore, the process is designed to uphold God’s holy standard in the Church to keep it from becoming compromised.  This is gospel severity and is not inconsistent with evangelical life.

For the apostle John said:

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.” (1Jn 5:16-17)

The only point I want to make from this passage is that if the person’s sin is “unto death”, there is no Scriptural basis to pray for life for that person, but even if you do pray for life, there is no basis for assurance or faith that your prayer will be answered.  His sin may still lead to physical death, and God may still punish him with eternal death, if it is in fact a sin unto death, as with Ananias and Saphira.  This also happened with those in the Corinthian church who partook of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Co 11:30). 

We are our brother’s keeper and when we see him sin, we must do what is necessary to show him his fault, following the church discipline method the Lord commanded.  If the sin is not unto death, there is the hope that if we do so obediently, he will eventually repent and be restored.

Doing It the Right Way
Any time you approach someone about a sin in their lives, first make sure you have checked yourself and taken the log out of your own eye. Jesus said, "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Mat 7:4-5)

In other words, if you yourself are practicing sin, you must repent before you go and speak to your brother about his sin. If any man thinks he stands, let him take heed that he doesn't fall (1 Co 10:12). Make sure your conscience is clear and you walk in humility. Ask the Lord for the humility of Christ. Restore the person in a spirit of gentleness.

The apostle Paul wrote: "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted." (Gal 6:1)

And you are not to treat the erring brother as an enemy.  If he doesn't listen and he has been expelled from the Church, don't associate with him, but warn him as a brother.

For Paul wrote: "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2Th 3:14-15)

Turning a Sinner from the Error of His Way
Finally I would like to mention what James said in closing his epistle. He wrote: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (Jas 5:19-20). Doesn’t that encourage you to follow through with the due process laid down in Scripture, in order to save a soul from death? Let's rescue souls! You are not doing your brother a favor by looking the other way, pretending not to see his sin, or acting as if it is acceptable.

Putting it All Together
We as a Church must once again realize the severity of sin.  There are many Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven. God still requires holiness, blamelessness, and purity.  He does not allow compromise in His Church. The punishment now is more severe than it was under the Law of Moses.  And we must still purge the evil from our midst. Jesus commanded it, the apostles obeyed Him, and they taught it, too! Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. This begins with preachers upholding God’s righteous standard (Rom 3:31), preaching the whole counsel of God (Ac 20:27), and the Church obeying it. Come let us return to the Lord, Church (Hos 6:1)! Let us confess our sin to the Lord, and He will heal us.

The Lord is coming back right away, and there will be no more delay!  But He is only coming for the holy ones. His Church must be pure.  He is coming for a holy and blameless Bride, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Eph 5:27).  That's why many will be left behind in the rapture to undergo the horrors of the tribulation.

If you are a preacher that has not taught or upheld God’s standard, you need to repent and begin to do so. If you are a member of the Church and you have not obeyed the Lord in this area, then you also need to repent. If you are a Christian, who is living in sin, you too need to repent with all your heart and ask the Lord to forgive you.  Let’s return to the standard of God’s Holy Word. Ask for the Ancient Paths once again!

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Ultimate Accountability, Separation from the World, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Garments of Godliness, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Keeping Sundays HolyFaith Works!, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Two Divine Revelations, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, The Straight and Narrow Path, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, The Judgment Seat of Christ, and Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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