Expel the Wicked from Among You!
This is day 23 of my 40 day Lenten Blog.
God forgives our sins, even our grave ones. But each time we sin not only do we hurt ourselves, we also damage the entire body of Christ. This is especially true if the sin is grave and we wear our faith on our sleeve. How many times have we heard that all Christians are hypocrites because a pastor cheated on his wife, molested children, or did some other terrible sin? When we sin we make Jesus look bad. This is especially true when the sinner is a leader or pastor in the church.
If left unchecked, sin also spreads throughout the whole body of Christ, corrupting others. Both Jesus and Paul refer to sin as yeast spreading through dough. Once yeast is in the dough there is no way to get it out, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5, except to throw out the whole batch.
For these reasons, both Jesus and Paul tell us that sinners should be removed from the faithful. Jesus instructs us to treat a sinner who refuses to repent "as a Gentile and tax collector." (Matt. 18:17). Paul very bluntly says to "expel the wicked from among you," (1 Cor. 5:13). We are not to associate with him at all. We are not to even eat with him! (1 Cor. 5:11).
The Lord takes sin very seriously, and we should too. We must work hard not to sin, work hard to keep our brothers from sinning, and repent of the sins we do commit and turn from them. And while we should always be quick to forgive, that does not mean that a grave sinner should be treated as if nothing happened. Why? Well, just look at how that has turned out.
Nothing in modern history has damaged the church more than predatory pastors being allowed to remain pastors. When such a pastor is allowed to stay in a role of authority, it not only damages the reputation of Christianity but it endangers future victims who believe the pastor is trustworthy and do not know of his predatory nature. And judgment will fall on anyone, whether a bishop or a lay person, who allows a known predator to remain in a pastoral position within the Christian community.
As I wrote in Saturday's post, Christ gave us a lot of warnings about false prophets, how they are wolves in sheep's clothing hurting His flock. Clearly He wants us to expel the wolves from among us!
Today's prayer: Lord, please help me to not damage the body of Christ and Your reputation through my selfish sinfulness. And keep Your Church free from unrepentant sinners. Do not allow Your reputation to suffer for their sin. And Lord, please protect those who would be victims because others refused to listen to Paul and expel the wicked from among them.
R.C. VanLandingham lives in Florida with his wife and kids. He is the author of several books including the Christian fantasy books Peter Puckett & The Amulet of Eternity, Peter Puckett & the Enchanted Chalice, and Magdalene Hope & the Elves of Evermore.