1 Corinthians 5:4-6—In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
In the church in Corinth, a man had an illicit relationship with his stepmother. The Corinthian church did nothing about it, in fact, they thought it showed how tolerant they were. The Apostle Paul told them they should be ashamed and immediately expel him from their congregation. The next time they gathered Paul promised to be with them in spirit, and when the power of the Lord was present, they were to hand the offender over to Satan. When we gather, we have the prayers of those who care for our church. God’s power is present in those willing to do His will. But what does this mean, “hand him over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved”? When someone is ejected from the covering of the local fellowship, they are out from under the umbrella of blessing, comfort and encouragement it provides. They have chosen to give in to a sinful desire, and it will enslave them, dragging them to ever increasing wickedness. When a believer goes this route, the discipline that comes as the consequences of sin can be very severe. Not only does the physical suffer, but there is agony of soul and spirit as well. If that will not open their eyes and turn them to repentance, what will? Verse 11 tells us under what conditions the church should do this. When you have an unrepentant sexually immoral person, or one given to greed, idolatry, slandering, drunkenness, or swindling, for their sake, and that of the body, we must remove them. Paul tells them why. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. Unconfronted sin infects the whole group. A body of worshippers can digress into a body of slanderers. Sin is contagious! By not dealing with these serious forms of rebellion toward God, we send an unspoken message that it is permissible. Not many churches are willing to take this stand, and that is one reason we have so many unhealthy churches.