It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not even exist among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.
–1 Corinthians 5:1
Several years ago, a Qantas Airlines A380 jetliner, the largest passenger jetliner ever built, had to return to the airport after takeoff when one of the engines exploded. As a precaution, Qantas grounded its entire fleet of A380s. Now, grounding that many jumbo jetliners is an expensive proposition–but not as expensive as one of those planes crashing and costing hundreds of lives. Qantas has not had a single fatality accident since they began flying jetliners in the 1950s. When they find a problem, they do not ignore it; they confront it directly.
Unfortunately, many churches have not learned that lesson. When there is a member who is causing division or hurting the cause of Christ, the church ignores it. They hope the problem will go away or heal itself. That rarely happens, and the result can be very costly spiritually. This week, we are going to look at a case study in how to handle problems in the church.
Paul was the spiritual father of the Corinthian Christians. So when he heard they were not behaving as they should, like any loving father, he sought to correct his children’s misbehavior. In 1 Corinthians 5, he dealt explicitly with a problem the church was ignoring. Paul said, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife” (v. 1).
The problem in the church was one of immorality. The Greek word translated as “immorality” is “porneia.” It was an umbrella term that referred to any kind of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, fornication, incest, and bestiality. In this case, somebody in the church was having a sexual relationship with his stepmother.
Notice what Paul said about this sin. First of all, he said this was a repulsive sin, “of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles.” Paul was saying even Gentiles openly disapprove of this kind of sin when they hear about it. Yet the Corinthians were accepting it.
Second, this was a public sin. The phrase translated as “actually reported among you” literally means “commonly reported among you”–that is, people inside and outside the church knew about it. And because this sin was well-known, Paul demanded that something be done about it.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Caring Enough to Confront” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
“Qantas Grounds A380s after Singapore Emergency Landing,” BBC, November 4, 2010, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11691197.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.