Why does Paul insist that the Corinthian church expel this unrepentant person? The first reason is for the good of the individual involved. We find that hard to understand because our ideas of discipline are so lax. We think the worst possible thing we could do to somebody is embarrass them, or put them on the spot, or make a judgment that perhaps they are doing something wrong. But Paul says that isn’t true. Where there is open and flagrant sin, the sin must be confronted, and this must be done for the good of the individual involved. That is why he says, "I want you to hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."

As we continue to examine this situation in today’s lesson, the second thing we notice is the fact that this sinful relationship was public. It wasn’t even something that had happened in a quiet way, which perhaps, therefore, could be dealt with in a quiet way. There is a good principle here. If a wrong can be made right quietly without broadcasting it abroad, that is certainly the procedure to be followed. But, in this case, that was not possible. This was something that apparently was well known in Corinth. But not only was this situation known in Corinth, apparently it had spread throughout the Roman world, because Paul, writing this letter from Ephesus, had heard about it there.

In addition to what we have here in 1 Corinthians, there are other texts that deal with church discipline. One of the key texts is Matthew 18:15-17. There we find what Jesus Christ said about how to deal with a fellow believer who is living in sin. He said that the first thing to do is go to him with admonishing words. If he won't hear you - that is, if he won't acknowledge the offense, turn from it, repent of it, and seek reconciliation - then take two or three witnesses back to confront him with the events. That follows the Old Testament legal principle.

We have come in our study of 1 Corinthians to a section that deals with Christian discipline. This is a hard subject for churches to face. And yet, as we come to such passages, we need to deal with them. We are faced with two problems in this matter of Christian discipline in our time. One is the disposition to take it too lightly, and the other is the disposition to overdo it, both of which unfortunately occur in some Christian circles. We need God's wisdom in each case.

Yesterday we saw that the Corinthian church seemed to be thriving - at least in worldly terms. But we find, given his tone, that Paul is being sarcastic. He is saying, "You already have what you want. You have become rich. You have become kings and you have done it all without us. Good for you! I wish that you really had become kings so that we might become kings with you."