But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. – 1 Corinthians 5:11 NIV
We live in a culture today where, more and more, a morality at least somewhat compatible with the Bible is being replaced with an anything goes form of morality. So long as I am not causing measurable harm to another person, I can do pretty much anything I want. And that attitude is not restricted to just the culture around us. It is creeping into the church as well. While some churches are more accepting of the culture than others, it is a danger that we all face. The church should be a light shining in our world. But if we find ourselves no different than the world around us, what good are we?
In this verse Paul tells the church not to associate with a person who claims to be a believer, but who is living in sin. But why? Paul gives us a couple of reasons in this chapter. The first is that this action on the part of the church will hopefully be a wakeup call to the offending party (1 Cor. 5:5). When we collectively take action, it should be with the hope that the one we are acting against will realize the seriousness of the issue and repent.
The second reason is that sin in the church is like yeast in a lump of dough. It will slowly work its way through the whole body until it has affected everyone (1 Cor. 5:6-8). We are called to be holy, both as individuals and as the church. And that requires that we eliminate anything that would hinder holiness. We need to strive for holiness, as individuals, and as churches. Church discipline is hard, but consider the alternative!