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Scripture Memory: God Empowers.

VERSE : Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

24 May 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Eld Ng Beng Kiong (Run the Race, 1 Cor 9:24-27)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Peter Tan (The End Doesn’t Justify the Means, Prov 14:12,14) 

 

31 May 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Philip Heng (Where Will You Spend Eternity? 2 Cor 5:1-21)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Bro Tan Thiam Hong (Having Hope in Death, Prov 14:32)

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IMMORALITY IN THE CHURCH

(A sermon preached by Elder Ng Beng Kiong on 22 February 2015)

We live in an age of unabashed immorality and sexual impropriety. We see a rising trend of sexual offences involving minors and teenagers; infidelity among the married becoming commonplace resulting in broken families and a rising divorce rate; cohabitation prior to marriage and cohabitation without planning to get married; homosexual lifestyle fast becoming a “normal alternative” and many people struggling with pornographic addiction.

While sexual immorality is not new, it used to be condemned but now it is accepted. There’s also nothing new about sexual temptations. What’s new is how it has invaded and pervaded our lives through movies and TV programmes, music, advertisements and magazines which are increasingly filled with graphic and explicit sexual content. 

It would be naïve to think that we can be insulated from these powerful societal trends. Worse, some Christians seem to have abandoned the biblical view of marriage and morality and embraced the values and ethics that are perpetuated by a society that rejects God’s standards. In fact, one of the problems the Church of Christ is facing today has to do with the disconcerting increase in immorality among Christians.

How should a Church deal with immorality within its own congregation? Paul addresses this issue In 1 Corinthians 5. There are three important lessons we can learn from this passage for our application:

1. The Christian Must Abstain from Immorality

Paul says in v1, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife”. The word “fornication” is used in Scripture to describe any illicit sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage. This includes adultery, premarital and extramarital sex, homosexuality, incest, prostitution, pornography and any form of sexual misconduct. Apparently, a certain member of the Corinthian Church was openly having an affair with his stepmother who was probably an unbeliever. This member was guilty of an immorality that even the immoral unbelievers of Corinth would not condone.

How should Christians living in an increasingly amoral society view immorality? Firstly, we must decide that it is a sin against God. God has established very clear boundaries for sexual relations:

- The marriage bed is undefiled and the sexual relationship between husband and wife is pure, holy, and good before God (Hebrews 13:4). God instituted marriage and any sexual relationship outside the sanctity of marriage is immoral, a sin He will judge.

- It is unbecoming of Christians to indulge in sexual immorality of any sort (Ephesians 5:3). God condemns it even if the world glorifies it.

- Sexual purity is not an option for the Christian; it’s a requirement (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). It is God’s will that we should be sanctified and avoid sexual immorality.

Secondly, we must determine to abstain from immorality. We must “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18) and not flirt with it! Sexual immorality is seductive, addictive and dangerous. Many people fall into sin because they underestimate the power of lustful passion and dabble with adultery, pornography or prostitution, etc (Proverbs 6:27-29). It is not a sin to be tempted, but what we do when we are tempted can lead to sin if we are not careful. We need to flee from that temptation before we get sucked into full blown sin.

Men, when you are overseas, watch where you go and what you do after dinner or at night. Women, you are not spared these days – clubbing, pubbing and bar-hopping are becoming lifestyle patterns in Singapore and these are precisely places where temptations abound. Young people, watch what you see on the internet. Are you being tempted to look at pornography? These days it is fashionable for courting couples to travel together and live together before marriage. This is a tremendous temptation for immorality. To avoid being tempted by the forbidden fruit, stay away from the devil’s orchard (Romans 13:14).

2. The Congregation Must Not Tolerate Immorality

While Paul was distressed by the sexual misconduct of this Church member, he was even more disturbed by the response of the Corinthian congregation. They should have been appalled by this sinful conduct and disciplined the offender. But they were indifferent and nonchalant about the matter; in fact, they were puffed up! V2: And ye are puffed up (or proud), and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. They did not take this sin seriously and the offender was still warmly received and fellowshipping with other members even though he was living in open immorality.

Perhaps the Corinthian Christians were proud that they were not “judgmental” and that they were “tolerant”. In an age that tolerates immorality we are under tremendous pressure to be “tolerant” as well. In the past, “tolerance” simply meant being civil or polite toward people of a different belief or lifestyle while still retaining the right to believe that they are wrong in what they believe and do. But today, “tolerance” means something closer to “approval”. It means that you can no longer call sinful behaviour “wrong” or “sinful”; and that you must accept it as morally neutral and even “accept” their right to live however they want. The “tolerance” we see today is a tacit “approval” of sin. This is the very pattern that the Corinthian congregation was falling victim to; and it’s one that we too must be on guard against. How should we, as a congregation, respond to immorality within the Church?

Firstly, we must mourn or grieve over the sin: “and have not rather mourned” (v2). Paul suggests this as the only proper attitude for the congregation toward this disgraceful immorality. The congregation in Corinth should have grieved that immorality had stained their testimony and tarnished the Name of Christ, but they were indifferent to it. When a brother is living in sin, we should be filled with anguish over what he is doing and how it is destroying him, his family and the Church. Certainly, we are not to be judgmental and adopt a holier-than-thou attitude, harshly condemning anyone who has fallen into sin. But neither should we tolerate immorality in the Church. An easy-going attitude toward sin is always dangerous. When we are no longer shocked by sinful deeds, we are in a very perilous position. 

These days, we are conditioned to be tolerant, open-minded and inclusive. But God’s Word tells us there are certain things that we are not to tolerate, immorality being clearly condemned, and more so within the Church. People today often take pride in being “open-minded” and “inclusive” of lifestyles and values that are an offence to God. But the Church of Christ is a body of believers, saved from sin, and the Bride of Christ which is to be unspotted and separated from the corruption of this world. To be tolerant towards immorality makes a mockery of our holy God. It is being “puffed up” because we think we know better than our Creator.

Secondly, the congregation must take steps to remove the unrepentant offender from their midst. Mourning implies not just feelings, but actions. It should have led the Corinthian congregation to put the offender out of their fellowship. Paul says in v2b, “that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you…” In fact he must be handed over to Satan (v.5). This means that he must be removed from the communion of believers. Cutting off an offender from Church fellowship and communion separates him from spiritual influences. This consigns him to a period of physical suffering at the hands of Satan. He would learn the hard way that the fruit of sin is bitter. This might persuade him to repent and seek restoration. The object of Church discipline and excommunication is to save the offender: to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit might be saved.  All discipline in the Church is to be carried out with an attitude of restoration, not condemnation. It is not intended to be punitive, but corrective!

Discipline is a Church responsibility; it involves the whole congregation. It is the duty not only of the Pastor or Elders but of the whole Church - “when ye are gathered together” (v4). The whole Church bears the responsibility to act with the authority of Christ. Rebuking and disciplining sinning believers guilty of immorality is not optional, but essential! We are required to withdraw fellowship, to administer strict discipline when a church member openly persists in sin and does not heed corrective counsel. Overlooking immorality is not gracious, but dangerous! 

3. The Church Must Purge Herself from Immorality

Why should we take such drastic action to remove an immoral person from our fellowship? Isn’t it unpleasant and may cause problems for the Church? Won’t that person leave the Church? If we remove someone, could he sue us? We must be wise, but never let the fear of consequences keep us from doing what is right before God. Although Church discipline isn’t pleasant, it is necessary. Paul gives two reasons for dealing with immorality in the Church:

Firstly, immorality defiles the Church. The Corinthian Church was proud to be ignoring this man’s notorious sin! They thought it showed the whole world how “superior” or “loving” they were. But Paul says in v.6, Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Yeast is microscopic but it produces a transforming influence. And in the Bible, leaven is almost always symbolic of impurity or sin. Whenever immorality is permitted, it works like leaven in bread; it affects the entire Church. For the Church not to take action against immorality is unthinkable because of the influence such behaviour would have on other members; it may cause others to stumble or sin. Worse, it can destroy the testimony of the whole Church. Unbelievers will perceive the whole Church as hypocritical because of her indifference towards immorality and sin.

A faulty idea held by many is that “my sin only affects me”. Our sin always impacts those around us negatively. David’s adultery brought much turmoil and strife to his family. Solomon’s polygamy caused his heart to turn away from God and brought idolatry into the nation of Israel. Immorality destroys lives, marriages, homes and ministries. So the compelling reason to remove an immoral person is that he will affect the entire Church. Paul says in v.7, “Purge out therefore the old leaven”. The Church is to “purge” (cleanse) decisively and completely the leaven of immorality.

Secondly, immorality among believers makes a mockery of Christ’s death on the cross. Paul says in v.7b that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” The Passover celebrates the deliverance of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. Jesus is our Passover Lamb who died on the cross to set us free from our sin. We should not take His sacrifice lightly. Since Jesus died to cleanse us from sin, we are to live like cleansed people. We have been saved out of sin and immorality and are no longer to return to them.

In commemorating the Passover, all leaven was removed from the home of the Israelites. Remember, leaven symbolises impurity. Paul says, “Therefore let us keep the feast…”  How? By holy living, by removing the leaven of immorality from our midst. Just as Israel was to remove leaven from their midst, we should rid our lives of sin. Whenever we worship the Lord, and especially when we partake of the communion bread and cup, let us remember Christ’s death on the cross for our sins; that He is our Passover and that we are called to walk in holiness and purity. Immorality has no place in the household of faith. We should be living out our Christian faith with sincerity and truth rather than with malice and wickedness (v.8b).

Today, Churches try to be “inclusive” reaching out to the world with an easy, convenient and popular gospel. Hence, there is little preaching against immorality and holding Christians accountable for their sinful behavior. This will only encourage greater immorality and give license to sinful behavior and tendencies even among Christians. Let us remember that Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might sanctify it in this world, so that it might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

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1) Church Camp Registration Office will be opened today and next 2 Sundays (31May & 7Jun) for camp fees payment between 9.30-10.45am and after second service, till 1pm. Location will be at Church Office Level 3 Beulah Centre. Love gift to defray the cost are welcome.

2) Renovation of Toilets. Please note that from 11 May till 21 June 2015, the toilets next to the FEBC kitchen at 9A Gilstead Road will be closed for renovation.You may use toilets situated on the ground floor along FEK corridor, level 2 or at Beulah House.

3) VBS 2015. Teacher/Helpers needed on Jun 3-5. More details and registration at http://www.lifebpc.com/vbs

4) Seminar on Hermeneutics. Sat, 13 Jun 152.00-5.30 pm. Speaker: Rev (Dr) Carl Martin. Please register at http://www.lifebpc.com/hermeneutics by 30 May 15.

Preaching appointment: Rev Wong at Olivet BPC, 9.30 am. Rev Lee at Thai Service, 2.30 pm.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11