*Hat tip to Sean Connery
Last week I ran across a passage of Scripture that some time ago I’d heard taught wrongly. I knew it at the time; in fact, it was a catalyst for parting ways with the false teacher who was too lazy, ignorant, or self-motivated to rightly divide the Word of Truth.
Being a devotee of the English language, I often engage in discussions with modern Americans wishing to better understand deeper texts. It’s such a blessing to share and receive exegesis and discussion, unpacking the Word—but stopping short of changing it. (TRUTH: What a concept!)
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In searching for the meaning
Of a message in God’s Word,
It’s important to divide it rightly:
It can be shaken, but not stirred.
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The pertinent portion of Pauline epistle—the passage presently paraphrased—presents a case against the wicked world wiggling its way into worship. While I don’t claim to be all-knowing, I believe my little rewrite will help understanding without corrupting meaning.
Foolish and hasty explanations I’ve heard before turn Paul’s plea for purging repeat-offenders from the flock, into a devilish doctrine of derision. A holy admonition from the apostle to the Gentiles is turned upside-down by power-hungry pastors and picky primadonnas. Plucked out of context, God’s Words are stirred into a man-made soup of false teachings such as men having divine authority, gossips dictating who gets kicked out of church, and cultish shunning in the marketplace.
On the contrary, Paul’s paragraphs don’t preach prejudiced finger-pointing; rather, a differentiation between the flock of God (imperfect but growing) and secular humanists (reveling in rebellion). The preacher also delivers a solemn warning against blending the two.
So, without further adieu (yes, today is a two-minute post), my paraphrase of 1 Cor. 5:1 – 6:11 — shaken, not stirred:
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I heard that a man in your church is having an affair with his step-mother—and you’re okay with it. But if his behavior grieved you, that man would either repent and remain, or want to stay in sin and leave the fold—given over to the enemy, perhaps later coming to repentance.
Condoning ongoing sin isn’t good for the church. I’m talking about heinous behavior such as this. Churches are not completely sinless, of course—but can suffer harm by being flippant about an ongoing offender. Christ died for sin, so that’s a mockery at best.
We celebrate Christ, not with the faithless, and not with hate or rebellion—but sincerely, and seeking truth.
We can’t utterly forsake unbelievers. They don’t know any better than to be immoral, greedy, and idolatrous. We will encounter them at work, in life, even in our families; yes, we do associate with them. But some people think they can repeatedly engage in adultery, greed, idolatry, fighting, drunkenness, or cheating—all the while coming to church and mingling with families with a desire to grow spiritually. It doesn’t work; in fact, it’s dangerous: these types shouldn’t be comfortably enjoying your potlucks.
But as far as the world goes, invite them in for some food: shine light in the darkness. We don’t judge the world, God does.
Winking at adulterers “playing church” can be peril to souls; but speaking up about grievous sin will have a purging effect—removing wickedness from the flock.
Again, don’t try to judge the world. Don’t bring secular society into church matters. The church will eventually judge the world—even angels; we certainly don’t need the world system to settle our disputes. Do you really go to court? You should be ashamed. Epic fail! It’s better to be wronged or cheated than to drag the world into church business. Even worse, you yourselves are doing wrong and cheating (even each other!). Wow.
Don’t resort to counsel from the ungodly: they are not qualified, not even part of the same kingdom. Don’t be ignorant: the world is full of people who commit ongoing illicit and deviant sex, theft, drunkenness, fighting, and cheating. They shouldn’t be integrally involved in God’s church.
Some of you used to be like that, but now you’re different—changed—justified in Christ and His Spirit. You have wisdom to settle church matters without bringing in the help of the wicked world…
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