Paul stepped to the plate as a disciplinarian with the church of Corinth. He received word of a serious problem. “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1). A man had married his mother/stepmother. Commentators are divided as to which one. I say, does it matter? Even in the licentious Roman society, this was verboten. You can bet the house, this is happening in some church somewhere. We must remember where we came from. We may be saved, but we still are sinners. At any given moment, our sin nature could erupt and carry us as flows of lava into sin. The church had grown tolerant. “And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Cor. 5:2).
Paul took the appropriate steps as a leader. He confronted the offender, and the church, for being lackadaisical. Too oft, this doesn’t happen in modern day churches. Think not that Paul, or any pastor, enjoys church discipline. I had a talented singer, whose church attendance was fair (he was not a member). If he was sober, he was not bad to be around. But when alcohol had him- look out! He sat in church a few times inebriated, but quiet. As long as he was quiet and respectful, I figured I would rather him in church under the Gospel than some saloon.
He made it his mission to rail against me. Progressively he got worse. I was patient (not my strongest suit). He put me in a 1 Cor. 5 situation and Biblically I had to act. I prayed on it and sought direction from God. Three days later, he forced my hand. He came to service torqued. As he sat there, he made the usual comments, but during the message he started disrupting the service. I asked him to be quiet, but he got worse. I had to stop the message, and literally pull him outside; after he had refused to leave. He tried to get physical but couldn’t. I remember telling him, “Richard, I love you, but you cannot mock God. I want you here, but don’t come back if you’re going to act this way.” In essence, he was given an express excommunication. “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). As harsh as this sounds, restoration was still possible and that was Paul’s and my motive. I prayed he would come back sober; but never did. The thought still bothers me. Let’s strive to be “good” so our Pastor doesn’t have to endure extra hardship and we tarnish the image of our church. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”