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Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church


It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgment 4in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sexual Immorality Must Be Judged

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons— 10not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge? 13God will judge those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”


5. To deliver to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. As the Apostles had been furnished with this power among others, that they could deliver over to Satan wicked and obstinate persons, and made use of him as a scourge to correct them, Chrysostom, and those that follow him, view these words of Paul as referring to a chastisement of that kind, agreeably to the exposition that is usually given of another passage, in reference to Alexander and Hymeneus, (1 Timothy 1:20.) To deliver over to Satan, they think, means nothing but the infliction of a severe punishment upon the body. But when I examine the whole context more narrowly, and at the same time compare it with what is stated in the Second Epistle, I give up that interpretation, as forced and at variance with Paul’s meaning, and understand it simply of excommunication. For delivering over to Satan is an appropriate expression for denoting excommunication; for as Christ reigns in the Church, so Satan reigns out of the Church, as Augustine, too, has remarked, 280280     “L’a tres-bien note;” — “Has very well remarked.” in his sixty-eighth sermon on the words of the Apostle, where he explains this passage. 281281     “The reader will find the same sentiment quoted in the Institutes, volume 3. — Ed. As, then, we are received into the communion of the Church, and remain in it on this condition, that we are under the protection and guardianship of Christ, I say, that he who is cast out of the Church is in a manner delivered over to the power of Satan, for he becomes an alien, and is cast out of Christ’s kingdom.

The clause that follows, for the destruction of the flesh, is made use of for the purpose of softening; for Paul’s meaning is not that the person who is chastised is given over to Satan to be utterly ruined, or so as to be given up to the devil in perpetual bondage, but that it is a temporary condemnation, and not only so, but of such a nature as will be salutary. For as the salvation equally with the condemnation of the spirit is eternal, he takes the condemnation of the flesh as meaning temporal condemnation. “We will condemn him in this world for a time, that the Lord may preserve him in his kingdom.” This furnishes an answer to the objection, by which some endeavor to set aside this exposition, for as the sentence of excommunication is directed rather against the soul than against the outward man, they inquire how it can be called the destruction of the flesh My answer, then, is, (as I have already in part stated,) that the destruction of the flesh is opposed to the salvation of the spirit, simply because the former is temporal and the latter is eternal. In this sense the Apostle in Hebrews 5:7, uses the expression the days of Christs flesh, to mean the course of his mortal life. Now the Church in chastising offenders with severity, spares them not in this world, in order that God may spare them. 282282     “Mais c’est afin que Dieu leur espargne;” — “But it is in order that God may spare them.” Should any one wish to have anything farther in reference to the rite of excommunication, its causes, necessity, purposes, and limitation, let him consult my Institutes. 283283     See Institutes, volume 3.

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