Church Discipline: The Commitment to Holiness (1 Corinthians Sermon 17)
February 03, 2019 | Andrew Davis
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Marks and Purposes, The Purity and Unity of the Church, Church Dysfunction
What is a Church?
So turning your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 5. We are looking today as you just heard John read for us verses 1-13. And as we do, we're looking this morning at the church, specifically, that I mean the local church. What is a church? Is it wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name? Is that a church? Or is it more than that? Is a faithful street evangelist up on a podium in Central Park, New York City faithfully preaching the gospel to a mixed group, is that a church? Or how about a campus fellowship on Friday night as college students gather in a room and listen to a Christian topic being unfolded from the Scripture, is that a church? During the 16th century, when the Reformation was going on, the Roman Catholic Church, which was basically the only game in town at that point in Europe rejected the reforms that Martin Luther and the other reformers were pressing based on the Scripture of justification by faith alone and all, that they rejected and excommunicated anyone that followed those doctrines.
They kicked them out of the Roman Catholic Church, whereupon, I think in response, but also just in general trying to study the Word, the reformers started asking the question, "What is a church? What is a real church?" If they knew that they were not heretics, they felt that they had been kicked out by a heretic church, and so they were asking questions, "What is a true church?" And they began to derive theological answers. Some of the theologians discerned three key items. First, where the Word of God is preached faithfully in Christ's name; and second, where the ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper, are scripturally followed or administered; and where church discipline is faithfully practiced, there, you have a church. Those three things. Now, in history, Baptists, which were part of that stream of Baptist history, made their contribution by coming to the conviction that the local church should, as much as possible, be made up of born again people. That only truly regenerate people should be members, covenant members, of that local church.
In this, they rejected the idea of a state church where a whole nation would be Lutheran or a whole nation would be Roman Catholic or a whole nation would be Reformed etcetera, and if you were a baby born in that that's what your religion was going to be. Whatever the ruler of that state was, all of his people would be that. Well, the Baptists rejected that idea cause they rejected infant baptism and they felt that as much as possible the local church should be made up of only believers, only born again people. And there were two great safeguards the Baptists presented. First was believer baptism, that only those who could give a credible profession of faith in Christ should be water-baptized. And secondly, church discipline. When individuals who are members of the church began to act like pagans, began to act like unbelievers, they should be excommunicated from that local church. These were the two safeguards to a Believer Church.
The Biblical Call For Holiness
Now behind the zeal for church discipline, there is a far greater a biblical zeal for holiness, the personal holiness of the individuals in the church, the holiness of the local church. And this comes from Leviticus 11:44 quoted in 1 Peter 1:16, where God Almighty says to his people, "Be holy, because I am holy." Now many people have a negative view of holiness, as though it's essentially misery, as though God were some kind of cosmic killjoy up there, looking over the parapets of heaven and trying to see if there's anyone having a good time, anyone enjoying anything at all and saying effectively, "Now, cut it out." That's the vision that they have of holiness. I remember reading a critique of the Puritan movement, and puritanical is almost always used negatively in the English language, that kind of thing. But in a similar vein, saying defining Puritanism as "The haunting fear that somewhere on earth someone is happy." So that's a very bad view, not only of Puritanism but of holiness.
But people who fear holiness and hate holiness do so I think from a deep-seated misunderstanding of what holiness really is, a deep seated misunderstanding of the evil of sin and the beauty of perfect goodness. How attractive and how beautiful it would be to live in a world with nothing but perfect goodness and no evil at all. And that stems from the essential nature of God himself, 1 John 1:5, "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all." Or again, in Psalm 29:2, it says, "Give unto the Lord the glory due his name and worship the Lord," listen to this, "in the beauty of holiness." There is just a beauty to holiness. There's a perfect beauty then to that holy world we are going to. I just looked it up as I was in the pew there, I wanted to confirm that that adjective is used, the Holy City, and it is. Revelation 21, the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. The Holy City, a city in which righteousness dwells and no evil, in which it's pure light and no darkness at all, just like God. Well, what would it be like to be in a world like that, a perfectly holy world?
Jonathan Edwards was meditating on holiness in one of his private meditations, in his journal, and he likened holiness to the beautiful simplicity of a spring flower, like a wild flower, which lay low and humble in the ground very low, and which opened up its petals to the flow of sunlight and drank in the sunlight, and gave off a beautiful fragrancy. And then he extended it to a whole field of these wild flowers drinking in light and putting off fragrance and beauty. That's his picture of holiness. And heaven is a place of perfect holiness, and therefore, also a place of perfect happiness. So, we should understand sin as the greatest enemy the people of God will ever face. It ruins that beautiful holiness that God intends. It is the damaging enemy that has come into this universe that God made. So therefore a healthy church must address the sin of its people, to be glorifying to God and fruitful as well as truly happy and truly blessed in peace.
I. Our Context: Tolerance, Not Holiness
So let's talk about our context, and by that I mean we as American Christians. America's prevailing spirit is one of relativism and tolerance of sin. In the post-modern era, there is an absolute uncertainty about absolute truth, and along with that comes relativism in which we're going to say like Pontius Pilate, "What is truth?" And not wait for the answer, because truth is relative to your perspective wherever you're standing, that's what truth is for you. We also have a radical individualism, where every person is an island unto him or herself, on their own, and mutual accountability, covenant faithfulness within a group is avoided. Beyond that, there's a tendency of us to question authority. You can even see those two words, sometimes on cars, "Question authority." And below that is just, "What right do you have to tell me what to do about anything?"
And then the idea of tolerance, being America's greatest virtue. American educators have imbibed this. They mixed a potent cocktail of self-esteem plus tolerance as the ideal for interpersonal relationships. Think very highly of yourself and tolerate everything in others, opening the door to tolerating, even embracing, even celebrating things that the Bible rejects as immoral and wicked such as homosexuality, to be tolerant of these things and the attitude would be the unbiblical slogan, "Live and let live." And then the misunderstood biblical slogan. "Judge not, lest you be judged." And so that's our context. As a result then, churches, local churches, more and more walked away from healthy church discipline. They just didn't do it. Now, my good friend Greg Wills who's a Baptist historian at Southern Seminary wrote a book on church discipline practiced by Baptists in the 19th and the early part of the 20th century, and he said to a 19th century Baptist, a church without discipline would hardly have counted as a church at all. If there's no discipline that's not a church.
He said his statistic show that mid-19th century Baptist churches disciplined on average 2% of their members every year. But as things unfolded, church has just abandoned that practice. Stopped doing it. Why? What happened? Well, Greg Wills says some of it was legalism. The way that church discipline would be applied unevenly on various moral standards that weren't necessarily biblical or might have been a few steps removed from biblical standards. For example, card-playing and dancing were frequently sins that Baptist churches disciplined because they were worldly. Greg Wills zeroed in on dancing in particular, and he said, "Dancing was the rock on which the ship of discipline foundered in the early part of the 20th century." So they sank on the rock of dancing. Now, some of you are like, "What in the world? I'm not even sure what world you're talking to me about. Churches actually disciplined people for dancing?" They did, but it became harder and harder to justify it biblically, they were getting further and further away from biblical absolutes. And so, just in general, Baptist churches just chucked the whole thing. Stopped doing discipline. As a result, sin's deadly plague in local churches went on unchecked.
More than anything, churches were accommodating themselves to the liberalism of the society theologically and just socially, accepting things more and more, and getting rid of any idea of discipline within the church. Sin is a deadly plague and as J L Dagg said, "When discipline leaves, Christ goes with it." And so we have to address it and when we allow sin to spread unchecked, we are begging for disaster. The church loses all of its power. Sinners are no longer converted, professing Christians are in constant danger of backsliding, nothing is going to be done to check it. The end result is that churches end up not much different than the world, they're just the same. Now let me talk about our context here at First Baptist Durham. I was saying to some of the other leaders of the church just how glad I am to pastor this church. I mean, even specifically this morning. I am not in any fear of preaching faithfully 1 Corinthians 5 before you, I don't think that there is going to be any faction that will rise up against what I'm speaking as long as I carefully go through the text and say, "We're not doing that," etcetera.
And you need to know just how unusual that is sadly, in so many Baptist churches, how many of my brother pastors would preach this text faithfully with fear and trembling, of what the people will say and think. Our church when I first got here 20 years ago was not actively consistently practicing church discipline. But little by little, the church began to embrace, based on biblical truth, its responsibility and certain cases came along, the church was faithful to do its task, and now we are in a regular pattern, and developing pattern, of doing church discipline. And I'm grateful for that, I thank God for being in a healthy church. My desire is just be faithful to this passage, which is the next passage in 1 Corinthians and just to urge that we continue and even grow more and more in this area that I feel like the Lord has led us to do well in. Now, next week, God willing, I'm going to talk more about details about how church discipline should be done in a local church.
II. Christ’s Clear Steps for Dealing with Sin: Matthew 18
This morning, my task is mostly just to walk through 1 Corinthians and try to understand what Paul says here. But I'm going to begin by looking at Matthew 18 briefly. There are two great passages on church discipline, Matthew 18. You can turn and look there if you like, verses 15-17. I'm not going to spend much time here. But Matthew 18 plus 1 Corinthians 5, these are the two great passages on local church discipline. Now, they're different from one another because I think they have a slightly different focus. There are different kinds of sins being addressed. Mathew 18 seems to be more into interpersonal sin, person A, person B. Some carnal behavior might happen between person A and person B, and a person is wronged and they address it privately, just between the two of them, they can get it worked out. So Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you, and if he listens to you, you have won your brother over, but if he will not listen, take one or two others along so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if he refuses to listen to the church, then treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." That's Jesus's words, Matthew 18:15-17. Now, I'm not going to walk through that, but that gives you a process to go through person A to person B when you're affronted by an individual.
Now, if you go over to 1 Corinthians 5, you're going to see a different kind of sin and a different kind of response. There it's dealing with a more public and scandalous sin for which I would say an individual's assurance of, "I'm sorry," and all that is not going to be good enough because the reputation of the church is at stake. And so I think they're just different, so you don't see the steps that Jesus lays out being laid out here by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5. There is a way to harmonize them, they're just different, different sins being dealt with there. It's more of a public issues.
III. Paul’s Commands About Church Discipline
So let's look at what Paul is dealing with. And the context here in 1 Corinthians 5 is of a notorious and scandalous sin that's occurring in the body of Christ. It's a sin, Paul says, that would make all of pagan Corinth sit up and take notice and gossip about those Christians in their city. Paul himself seemed shocked. So look at verse 1, 1 Corinthians 5:1, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans, a man has his father's wife."
So Paul is clear that, and he'll be even clearer in the next chapter, chapter 6, that all sexual immorality is sin, very serious sin. But the kind that's going on here as we said would make even the pagans be shocked. They know that this is wicked. And not only that the sin is being reported, people are talking about it, it's being noised around. Gossip is already spreading. Now, probably what's going on is that a man was having a sexual relationship with his stepmother, I think. He doesn't say a man has his mother, but a man has his father's wife. So I think it's probably that he is sleeping with his stepmother. But it's shocking. Even worse, the Corinthians are responding with pride. Look at verse 2, "And you are proud." This is a consistent problem with this local church. They are arrogant people, they're prideful people. They're proud of their leaders. "I follow Paul…I follow Apollos…I follow Cephas…" They're proud people, they're proud of their spiritual gifts. We'll be talking about that toward the end of this book. They're very proud of speaking in tongues or prophecies or other things. They're proud of their status in the community there.
Now here, I don't think you should imagine that they're proud of the sin. I don't think that's what's going on. It's more they're proud in spite of their sin. The sin hasn't in any way harmed how proud they are of their church. They were proud of themselves despite their sin of omission, of not doing something they should have done. And so, Paul's job here is to shock them to their senses with their duty. Look at verse 2 again, "You are proud, shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and put out of your fellowship the man who did this?" So now we come directly to the issue of what's called excommunication. The person is no longer seen to be a member of that church. They're not going to be able to communicate, in other words, take part in communion, they're not a member of the church. Excommunication, that's what the word means. So, you should have put out of your fellowship. This is the final stage of discipline in which a member is put out of the church because of sin. Now, God willing, next week, I'm going to talk about subordinate steps that healthy churches do to address sin in the church, long before excommunication. We'll talk about that, God willing, next week. The whole array of proper responses to a whole array of sins. Excommunication though is the final step.
Keep in mind, in history, the Roman Catholic Church did things like the Spanish Inquisition and other things in which they would actually torture sinners or heretics, burn them at the stake and do different things. These things are not mentioned at all in the text. They are not approved at all by the Scripture. They were never in view. The final step of what a local church could do is this, "You're no longer a member of our church." That's the end. And nothing more that the church would do, but they needed to do it and they weren't doing it.
So look at Paul's commands and his reasons verse by verse, verse 3, "Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit, and I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present." Notice that Paul uses judgment language. He is sitting in judgment on this case, and he's going to do it again at the end of the passage. Look at verses 12 and 13, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside, expel the wicked man from among them."
So clearly, this passage is the limiting passage or a boundary passage on Jesus' statement in the Sermon of the Mount, "Judge not, lest you be judged." Apparently, there are some judgments that it is sinful to make, and there are some judgments that it's sinful not to make, and you just have to be discerning which is which. In this case, it's sinful for them not to pass judgment on this individual and excommunicate him. That would be wrong for them not to do that. So Paul in verse 3 is speaking as an apostle who represents the authority of Christ in a church matter. He is there with the authority of Jesus, as though Christ himself were rendering this judgment through him. That's the feeling you get. And Paul says, "I've already passed judgment on the sinner." Now, the church in order to stay faithful to Jesus needs to do the same. Paul says, his power is present through the Holy Spirit. I think that's the implication, "When I am with you in spirit." And I think the same is true for any healthy church in the 21st century. Paul's power can be present with us as we need to fulfill this, because really we've always known the issue is not Paul anyway, it's Christ through Paul, or it's the Holy Spirit using Paul as he wrote this text. So the power of Paul's words is still with us, even in the 21st century.
The Remedy Commanded
Now, Paul clearly wants this sin to be dealt with immediately, no delay. So he commands this remedy. Look at verses 4 and 5, "When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit and the power of our Lord Jesus is present," verse 5, "hand this man over to Satan so that the flesh may be destroyed and his spirit saved in the Day of the Lord." So Paul is giving us formal sentence like in a court trial in this matter. He's telling the local church precisely what they should do with this sinner. First, the discipline must be done in public assembly, not in private, in public. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus. Secondly, Paul is saying he is with him in spirit, so the church must honor Christ's authority speaking through him to obey what he's telling them to do. And through the Holy Spirit, he is with them in spirit, so the Holy Spirit is there, it's a very serious thing.
We should remember the ominous assembly in Acts chapter 5 of Ananias and Sapphira, they're all together. Peter was the apostle dealing with that case. You remember the story, they lied about money, they individually did it, first Ananias, the husband, then Sapphira, the wife. They spoke the lie, and Peter said, "How could you agree to lie to the Holy Spirit?" And they both dropped down dead, so there's that serious sense of direct judgment, so very serious. And later in this book, 1 Corinthians 11, he's talking about excesses with the Lord's Supper. They were getting drunk at the Lord's Supper, they were gorging themselves, they had no thought about the others, they were not recognizing the seriousness of the Lord's Supper. So he says in 1 Corinthians 11, "Anyone who eats and drinks the Lord's Supper without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself." That is why, listen to this, "Many of you are weak and sick and a number of you have died, have fallen asleep." This is a very serious thing that Paul is talking about here.
So Paul then says, At this solemn assembly, you should "hand this man over to Satan." Now, that's just a different way of saying the same thing he says three different times. Look at verse 2. They should have put the man out of the fellowship. "Hand this man over to Satan," is in this verse, but verse 7, they should get rid of the old yeast. And then at the very end, verse 13, in case they missed what they're supposed to do, "Expel the wicked man from among you." He's very clear what has to happen, no doubt about it.
Hand this man over to Satan.
Now, here the text says, "Hand this man over to Satan." Now, here's where you need to understand how Paul sees the local church. He talks about it at the end of this text, inside, outside language. Inside, outside, inside, outside. So there's a sense of a boundary, and it's not architectural. It's not walls, like you're going to have armed guards or a bouncer, and you're going to get the person physically out of the building. That's not what he's talking about. He's talking about a sense of who is that local church and who is not. And so the boundary is one of, really a list of names and a knowledge of who our flock is.
And he says, your business is with those people, not the outsiders. So there's a sense of an outside world out there. And then he's using a language of Satan here, Satan's in-charge of that world. He is the God of this age. He's deceiving the whole world. Put the man out into Satan's kingdom so he can live out there, because that seems to be his allegiance. He's acting like a non-Christian, send him out to follow the dictates of Satan out into Satan's world. That's what's excommunicated. Jesus used the language, "Treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Outsider, that's what it means. So just out in the pagan world, just see him that way. So that he says, "The flesh may be destroyed." One translation has sinful nature, but that's a leap for me exegetically. I don't know that I can say that he's urging that his sinful nature be destroyed. The word is just flesh. So, let Satan work him over. There could even be fleshly effects of the sin. There could be disease, there could be other things that might happen. His body might be destroyed, but he's hoping that his spirit will be saved in the Day of the Lord. So there could be some bad things that will happen to him physically, but his real hope is that his spirit will be saved on Judgment Day.
The Example of the Yeast
Alright, verses 6-8, he gives us the analogy of yeast, "Your boasting is not good, don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast, as you really are." Interesting statement, "As you really are." Get rid of the yeast so you can be what you are. You are pure, now be pure. That's just the way justification and sanctification works. God has declared you clean, now live clean. So he's saying the same thing to the church, "Get rid of the yeast so you can be what you are which is a lump with no yeast, no evil. So be what you are," that's what he's saying. "For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed, therefore, let us keep the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread made without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."
So now we got this image of yeast, now we got a chemistry lesson. Alright, what is yeast? It's a one-celled fungus that spreads rapidly throughout a lump of dough, let's say, simply by dividing in two, and it's used in baking to give breads and cakes a nice fluffy texture. Right in my outline here, I describe how that happens but that is so geeky and most of you don't want to know about the carbon dioxide bubbles, but that's what happens. It spreads and it makes cakes and muffins light and airy, and if there's no yeast, it's like crackers, like dry... You know, very unleavened bread. So Paul actually is reaching for the Jewish traditions around Passover, and they were commanded to eat bread without yeast and get rid of all the yeast in their homes. And so, the Jewish people would go through all their homes and get rid of the yeast. Just get rid of all the old yeast, so that their homes will be free of yeast. And it's a picture of permeation and spreading. It's not necessarily bad or good.
Jesus said, that the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman makes into a large amount of flour until it permeated the whole lump. He's talking about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven spreads invisibly through the world. No one can see it, but it spreads. That's a good thing. But in this case, it's bad. Sin spreads, it metastasizes, it's contagious. And so, just like that we are to be even better. We're in the New Covenant now, not the Old Covenant. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. He's better than any lamb ever was. So we should be even more committed to holiness and purity than the Jewish people ever were before. That's the language he's using. So let's get rid of all of the wickedness and sin.
The Prohibition from Associating with Immoral So-Called Brothers
Now, in verses 9-11, he says, "I'm putting on you a strict prohibition in terms of who you will consort with, who you will eat with." Verses 9-11, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard, or a swindler. With such a man, do not even eat." So here, Paul gets to the end result of the expulsion. When you kick this man out, do not set up a lunch date with him. Don't hang out with him. He needs to know it's not okay what's happened. So he's dealing with the idea of the danger of this individual.
Now, Paul is clear there's a big difference between unbelievers, the people of this world who live in constant sin all the time. Those people are enough of a threat, they can influence the church. That's true. But they're doing it clearly saying they're not Christians, they're pagans, I'm not a believer. And Paul says, "I'm not telling you not to eat or drink with them or not to spend time with them or do business with them or different things, I'm not saying that. Because in that case, you would have to leave this world." Look at the example of Jesus, he ate and drank with pagans and tax collectors all the time. He was never polluted by them, but he spent time with them. And then in his high priestly prayer in John 17, he said, "My prayer is not that you take them out of this world, but that you protect them from the evil one."
So we're supposed to be salt and light, we're supposed to be in the world influencing. So he said, "I'm not saying don't consort with those sinful people who are worldly. What I am saying is don't hang out with someone who calls himself a brother but lives in that kind of habitual sin. With that kind of person, don't even eat." Now, this is where groups like the Amish and other Anabaptistic groups and others had a practice known as shunning. And it does raise very practical questions like... I mean, how far does this go? Jonathan Edwards helpfully explains some of these things in church discipline. It doesn't mean we shouldn't give basic human kindness to someone who's been excommunicated, medical assistance if they're in need, common acts of kindness such as opening a door when you go through ahead of them, or picking something up they may drop. Nor does it mean within families that husband shouldn't eat with wives or wives shouldn't eat with husbands if one of them has been excommunicated, or parents with children, children with parents, like ongoing human relationships need to be maintained so he would not say that you would stop eating dinner together if you're married or you're in the same family.
But it does say, "I don't want to communicate to the excommunicated person that what they've done is okay. I want them to know I'm deeply troubled, that I'm praying for their soul. I want them to repent." And what's so beautiful is in 2 Corinthians 2, it seems like the sinner who was kicked out, and we'll talk about this more next week, repented and they were welcomed back into the church. They needed to be welcomed back in. So that's the desire. We want the person to repent and flee from Satan and come back into the colony of heaven that the church is. It's what he's talking about here. And then finally in verse 12 and 13, judging those outside or inside, not those outside of the church. "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." I mean, the wrath of God is onto the pagan world. You don't need to worry, but God's going to take care of that. Our business in this chapter is with those who are part of the covenant fellowship and who have sinned in this grievous way. Expel the wicked man from among you. So that's 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.
IV. The Purposes of Church Discipline
Now, let's talk about the purposes of church discipline. And like I said, God willing, we'll come back to this topic next week.
Above All Things: The Glory of God
The top purpose for everything in the Christian life is always the same: The glory of God. And so, we, local churches, must practice biblical church discipline for the glory of God. We want to put God on display in the world. We want to shine like a light up on a stand, we want to be a city on a hill. We want to put the glory of God on display and if we don't do church discipline, we will not glorify God. We want to put His attributes on display: His justice, his mercy, his wrath, his grace, his patience. We want these attributes on display and a church that tolerates sin does not glorify God.
The Salvation of the Individual
Secondly, the salvation of the individual. Paul said, "Hand this man over to Satan so that his flesh may be destroyed, but his spirit saved in the Day of the Lord." The desire is that the individual will be saved while there's time. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God, and he will freely pardon him. Say those kinds of things to this individual. I want you to be saved, I want you to give up the sin, I want you to turn away from this wickedness while there's still time. There's a pleading that goes on with this, the salvation of the individual. We don't want them to hear these dreadful words, "I never knew you, away from me you evildoer" on Judgement Day. While there's still time, we want them to flee to Christ.
The Purity of the Church
Thirdly, the purity of the church. Listen, even if the individual never repents, good was still done by biblical church discipline, because the church needs to be protected from the metastasizing tumor of sin, needs to be protected from the evil yeast spreading through the whole group. The idea, the logic is, if you don't address it, it's going to spread. And church history has borne this out, churches that get weak on church discipline start having the problem multiplying in there. And not the exact same sin, but there will be other sins like it. And so, for the purity of the church, you have to practice biblical church discipline.
The Restoration of Unity in the Church
Fourthly, for the restoration of the unity of the church. Sin divides churches, it rends unity. And so for the sake of the unity of the church sin has to be addressed, the church has to come together and agree again, to the pattern of holiness we all love and we're going to live it out and it brings us together as a church. And then finally, fifthly, the reputation of the church in the community. It matters a lot how the outsiders see the church. We are supposed to be the salt of the earth, retarding the spread of corruption in society. We're supposed to be the light of the world, we're supposed to hold out the word of truth, as we shine like stars in the universe, Paul says in Philippians. We're supposed to be shining and holding out a pure gospel. We need to have the reputation in the community, as a church that is committed to biblical holiness.
So the glory of God, the salvation of the sinning individual, the purity of the church, the restoration of unity within the church, and the reputation of the Lord and of the church in that community. Those are the motives. Now, next week, we're going to talk about more practical questions. One of the number one lessons I'll try to give next week is how this is the ultimate step. There's lots of shepherding, and lots of discipleship, and lots of conversations that can happen long ago, or long before we get to this point. You want to try to nip sin in the bud. And so, we'll talk more about that next time, but let me just close by making an appeal based on the holiness that we've discussed here to those of you who have not yet come to faith in Christ. This, this is church business that we've been talking about today, this is for Christians who have drawn together in a covenant fellowship, that we should be holy. But the question is, "What about you?" Do you know, and can you see the principles of sin in your own life? All of us, we're saved by knowing and recognizing ourselves to be sinners, that we are under the judgment of God apart from Christ. That we have violated the 10 Commandments. We have violated the two great Commandments.
We have been angry with other people enough, perhaps even to want them dead. We have lusted after other people, we have lusted in our hearts, we've broken those spiritual commandments that God gave and we've not loved God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors ourself. We need a Savior. And I don't know how you got here today, if you're an unbeliever, but maybe you were invited by a church member and I'm pleading with you while there's time, find salvation through faith in Christ. You don't need to do anything, no works could ever pay for your sins. But Jesus died on the cross for sinners like you and me and all you need to do is trust in Him and you'll receive full forgiveness of sins. And when you've done that, you can testify to that by water baptism, and you'd be ready to be welcomed into a healthy local church. And part of that health is a church that cares about sin. And we'll address it as we've discussed today. Close with me in prayer.