It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? Corinthians 5:1-2 (NIV)
Toleration is not love. And while it may be what the world thinks we should do, to leave people in their sins without warning, what we actually do is condemn misguided people (of whom we were once) to an eternity in Hell. Don’t we, as the church, stand accused of tolerance of sins that will be judged unrighteous when the Lord Jesus returns? We condone ungodly unions with pride – adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. And lest you think our churches don’t condone sin, think again. We condone whatever wrongdoing and unholy things go on in our churches if we stand silently by and allow these things to continue. Although it seems harsh, even to me, Paul explains why the church at Corinth should not allow this man to persevere in his sin while remaining in the fellowship without rebuke:
So when you are assembled and I [Paul] am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. Corinthians 5: 4-5 (NIV)
How kindly does our tolerance look in this light? Churches who allow members to remain in a sinful state as we know sin to be by what the Word of God tells us are not being progressive. This includes members who are living together outside of marriage and practicing homosexuals. We pride ourselves on tolerance, even up to officiating at same-sex marriages.
Lord, forgive us for sitting idly by while these we are supposed to rescue are heading to Hell. Even though the world will judge us for putting such persons out of the fellowship, it matters not. We have our instructions from God and we are to be the light of the world, but when we refuse to shine we will be held accountable.
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. Ezekiel 33:7-9 (NIV)
We save ourselves from judgment, certainly, but our real motives should be for the salvation of souls. And the punishment of being put out to the fellowship will, in some cases, will bring the wrong-doers back to the Lord. Paul instructs the Corinthian church to remove the man who is in sexual sin, but he goes on to say that he should not be permanently removed:
The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NIV)
So, we judge other Christians to intervene in situations but only God can permanently cast out of the church and He will be the judge in the end, but for now, let us not condone what God calls sin, for everyone’s sake.