Updated: Jul 24
I have heard people question how a loving and merciful God could kill and slaughter people like we find in the Old Testament. What they fail to understand is that the Creator of all that exists is a holy God and He does not tolerate sin. Sin ultimately brings death. Sin that is allowed to remain unchecked will spread like a cancer and destroy the whole population. Just look around the world, or better yet, just look around America at the mess we have gotten ourselves into because of unchecked sin.
Individuals that sin in this present age may be spared swift death by the command of God, but in the end, on the day of judgment, they will receive death. The only thing sparing this judgment is repentance.
How should sin in the camp, or body of Messiah be handled today? In the New Testament, The Apostle Paul advises the Corinthians (I Corinthians 5) to put away from among themselves a man who had committed adultery/incest with his step-mother. This sin is prohibited in the Torah. (Leviticus 18:7-8)
Why is this advice given by Paul? For the same reason that God told Moses and Aaron to slay the men who committed harlotry in Numbers. Paul advises them that if they do not put this man away from the congregation that the “leaven” of sin will spread until the entire congregation has been corrupted by sin. Paul advises them to bring judgment upon this individual in hopes that by doing so this man will see the error of his way and that he would repent of his sin. If repentance happens then Paul advises that the man can be re-admitted into fellowship with the congregation.
The congregation at Corinth takes the advice of the Apostle Paul and they stop having fellowship with this individual. WOW! That is just mean, judgmental, politically incorrect, discrimination and a whole host of other modern technical terms. How could the Apostle Paul and the Corinthians DARE TO JUDGE THIS MAN like this? That's the problem with the modern church today. They have allowed sin to remain within the congregation and accepted it, just like the Corinthians did initially (I Corinthians 5:6) until the ENTIRE congregational body is now un-recognizable from a world full of corrupt sinners who violate every command of God. Congregations that do this have had their conscious' seared with a hot iron. They are no longer able to discern evil from good.
The Apostle Paul urges these Corinthians to turn this man over to Satan in hopes that he will repent and his soul be spared (I Corinthians 5:5). They finally obeyed his instructions and in II Corinthians 2:3-11 we find that this man did indeed repent of his sin and was restored to the fellowship of the body. The problem with the modern church is that the vast majority of people within the congregation do not want ANYONE to correct or advise them. The vast majority do not want to be held accountable or receive correction from anyone. This too is a violation of God's commands.
So, how is a congregation supposed to put away from among themselves a sinner who is committing a known, open, sin? The Bible gives us those instructions in Matthew 18:15-17:
“"If your brother sins against you, go and confront him while the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. But if he doesn't listen, take one or two others with you so that 'every word may be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If, however, he ignores them, tell it to the congregation. If he also ignores the congregation, regard him as a gentile and a tax collector.” (ISV)
While this is always a delicate situation and it should always be handled in a loving manner, it must be done. The Body of Messiah can not have within its fellowship a person who has openly sinned before God. While I am aware that many people sin and it is never known, or it is covered up, but here we are dealing with sin that has been revealed for what it is. It brings a reproach upon the congregation. This person should be handled as the scripture indicates and then dealt with by allowing the person to know that he has fallen away from God and thus, without repentance, he/she will not inherit eternal life but instead eternal punishment. At this point this person should not be allowed to hold positions of leadership or council, etc. At this point they should not be considered a member of the congregation any longer until repentance takes place. If repentance takes place then they should lovingly be restored.
I realize that this sounds harsh in today's world, but this is based upon the Word of God.
The Apostle Paul further explains who is being dealt with here:
I Corinthians 5:9-13; “ I wrote to you in my letter to stop associating with people who are sexually immoral— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, greedy, robbers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you to stop associating with any so-called brother if he is sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunk, or a robber. You must even stop eating with someone like that. After all, is it my business to judge outsiders? You are to judge those who are in the community, aren't you? God will judge outsiders. "Expel that wicked man."
We can find from these scriptures that we are not “putting away” or “judging” a person who is “outside” of the body, a sinner of the world, but we are to “judge” and “put away” a person who calls themselves a “brother” or a “sister” , a fellow believer. God will judge those who are outside of the congregation. This is why a congregation should keep records and have membership rolls so that they can hold their members accountable to the Word of God. The Word of God cannot ever be compromised.
The Torah is full of scriptures commanding the “evil one” to be put away from among you. Again, all of these scriptures are referring to “the camp of Israel”.