In our class this morning, we started to review Ephesians 5:1-7. In these verses we find a phrase that prompted a question that led to a lengthly discussion. For those who asked, I will lay the verses out that we discussed, for your further study.
(Ephesians 5.5–6 NIV)
“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5.6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
Some might take this verse to mean that a person whose life patterns exhibit habitual immorality, impurity or greed, cannot inherit God’s holy kingdom. I will lay out several verses below that will demonstrate that this cannot be the case.
Lets start by laying some groundwork.
The letter to Ephesus was addressed to Saints, not unbelievers. Eph 1.1
The first letter to the church in Corinth was also addressed to believers. I Cor 1:1-2.
Both of these letters are addressed to believers, NOT unbelievers.
To suggest that a believer can commit some sin that will cause him to lose his salvation is impossible. That would be to suggest that the sacrifice of God’s son was not quite capable of paying for all our sins. That would contradict John 3:16 and many other passages.
Since these passages are addressed to believers, there must be another meaning, so lets take a look.
I Cor 5:3-13 must be studied.
(1 Corinthians 5.1–13 NIV)
“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. 1Corinthians 5.2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 1Corinthians 5.3 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. 1Corinthians 5.4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 1Corinthians 5.5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1Corinthians 5.6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 1Corinthians 5.7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1Corinthians 5.8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1Corinthians 5.9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 1Corinthians 5.10 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. 1Corinthians 5.11 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 a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
1Corinthians 5.12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 1Corinthians 5.13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.””
Let us examine these verses.
In verse 1 Paul states that there is a brother among them that is having sexual relations with his stepmother.
In verse 5, Paul states that the brother is to be “handed over to Satan.” He goes on to say that his spirit will be saved on the day of the Lord.
Verse 10 makes it clear that Paul is not saying we are to stay away from worldly people (unsaved), you would have to separate yourself from the world to do that and there would be no way to influence people with the gospel if you have no contact with them.
Verse 11 states that if a “brother” is caught in these worldly actions, we are to separate ourselves from them.
Verse 12 tells us that we are not to judge those outside the church, God will take care of that. We however, are to examine ourselves. That means we should do some self examination within the body.
So what does this mean and what does this look like in the world I live in? For sake of conversation, what should I do if a christian friend of mine is falling into moral sin, or any other sin for that manner.
I should gently go to my brother and discuss the issue with him with the motive of encouraging him and assisting in the restoration of his relationship with the body. Gal 6:1.
If he does not listen, I am to come back with one or two witnesses to confront the brother with the sin. Matt 18:16.
If he still does not repent, we are to bring the issue before the church, Matt 18:17 and if there is no resolution we are to sever all contact with the person. This ties back to 1 Cor 5:13.
Remember always that the hope is for the person to repent and be restored to fellowship, That should be our goal.
This is why it is so important for us to encourage each other and stay close to the body. Our close friends should be strong believers who will pray for us and have the courage to correct us (in a loving way).
The purpose of this self examination is to insure that we all live a life WORTHY of the calling that we have received, Eph 4:1.
It is also necessary if we are to be effective ambassadors of Christ. 2 Cor 5:20.