Like Seattle, the city of Corinth had a long history of gender confusion and sexual perversion. In a spirit of ‘tolerance’ the perversion of their culture had seeped into the Corinthian church. In response Paul rebukes them harshly by telling them to be judgemental of those in the church rather than judging those who are not Christians.
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
A brush of idealism paints the 1st-century church as a nostalgic example of community and perfection. The congregation in Corinth, however, was anything but ideal. Rather than sharing their possessions, the Corinthians would sue each other to get more stuff. Rather than eating meals together, the Corinthians would cut in line during communion to get drunk off the wine. And rather than communal singing, the Corinthians had communal sex. I’m A.J. Hamilton with Mars Hill Church in Seattle. In this sermon series, Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches on the letter known as 1 Corinthians, which the Apostle Paul wrote to untangle the many moral and theological knots the Corinthian church created.In addressing their sin, Paul provides some of the richest theological sections of the entire New Testament. After listening to the following sermon, e-mail any questions or comments to email@example.com. To automatically receive Mars Hill audio programming, subscribe to our podcast available at marshillchurch.org. And now, here’s Pastor Mark with “Judging Like Jesus”, the eleventh sermon in a series, “Christians Gone Wild: 1 Corinthians.”
Well, as we get into it today, 1 Corinthians chapter 5, let me do a long introduction. What we’re dealing with in the city of Corinth is a very perverted, sexually alternative lifestyle type of culture – may sound like a place you’re heard of – where everyone has a lot of tolerance and freedom sexually, where there is great pride for lots of sexual activity. Corinth had a history of being a very sexually active, perverted town. There was massive gender confusion, massive sexual perversion. The ancient city existed with a temple that included 1,000 prostitutes that was part of a occultic worship.
That was destroyed, and the city was later rebuilt. But that attitude of sexual perversion and promiscuity and tolerance and pride and the celebration of alternative lifestyles and alternative lifestyle parades and bumper stickers on the back of the camel with a rainbow – all of that was real big in the city of Corinth. And it was such a big deal that the rich would throw massive banquets. Their friends would come, and each friend would be assigned a personal prostitute. This was very common; very open. They had homosexuality. They had sex before marriage.
They had prostitutes. They had strip clubs. They had bisexuality. They had swingers and open marriages. Just about anything you can think of that happens in our present day happened repeatedly, continually, in the city of Corinth. It was so bad that to be a sexual pervert, they would call you a Corinthian, and if you were a prostitute, they would call you a Corinthian girl. Corinth was just notorious for being a very liberal town. A port city; lots of people coming and going, lots of sexual activity and promiscuity. And it was so bad that sexually transmitted diseases became very widespread.
They didn’t have the medical technology to deal with them, so they would build shrines, these little statues built in the form of genitalia. People would actually go to them in hopes of being healed from their venereal diseases. It was their version of the ancient Greek clinic, okay? So what we’re dealing with is a culture that you may look at now and say, “Well, that’s disgusting.” Well, it probably was not quite as bad as the one that you and I exist in. So I will give you the national statistics, and if you still haven’t thrown up what you’ve eaten, then I’ll give you the local statistics. And then we’ll put up chicken wire, and then I’ll actually move into the text, okay?
So nationally, Americans spend more money each year on pornography than country music, rock music, jazz music, classical music, Broadway plays and ballets combined. Pornography is now a $10 billion industry, bigger than National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball combined in total revenue. Annual rentals and sales of adult DVDs is now more than $4 billion a year. There are 11,000 adult movies made every year. That is more than 20 times the number of films being churned out by Hollywood for mainstream production.
The porn industry says that 30 percent – almost a third – of all video rentals on the East and West Coast are adult in nature. The top words searched for on the net in the various search engines is sex, with porn, nude, Playboy, erotic stories, also in the top 20. 70 percent, however, of porn traffic occurs between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., while you’re sitting at your desk at work not doing your job. Additionally, the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity estimates that between 6 and 8 percent of Americans are full-blown sex addicts, which is between 16 and 21 ½ million people.
People who have dozens or hundreds of sexual partners, people who are online looking at pornography for an hour a day, every day: addiction. There are more than 2,400 strip clubs in America. Some of them make upwards of $8 million a year in revenue and have as many as 200 dancers working at them. And it starts very, very early; 61 percent of all high school seniors have had sexual intercourse. About half are sexually active currently, and 21 percent of high school seniors have had four or more partners. Adolescents have the highest sexually transmitted disease rates.
Approximately ¼ of sexually active adolescents become infected with an STD every year; there are 3 million cases. And people under the age of 25 account for 2/3 of all sexually transmitted diseases in the country. By graduation time, the average high school senior will have spent 15,000 hours watching television and 12,000 hours in the classroom. So the preponderance of their education comes from television and not from instruction in the classroom. They will see 14,000 sexual references a year on television.
You may say, “Well, out of those 14,000, how many are about birth control, self-control, abstinence, risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease – anything that would not be encouraging them to be sexually active?” Out of the 14,000 references a year, 165 – 165 – have anything negative to say about sex whatsoever. So our culture is much like the Greek culture that the Corinthian church was in, and our city is much like the Corinthian city that Paul’s church existed in.
Let me tell you the local stats. Our cohabitation rate according to the 2000 census is 250 percent higher than the national average in Seattle. So lots of people coming to this church are already living and sleeping with someone that they’re not married to. It’s a common issue for us here at the church. The big event in Seattle is the Seattle Pride Parade. Last year approximately 130,000 Seattleites attended that parade. Now, statistically there’s about 136,000 – roughly – Christians.
So if you got every Christian in the Puget Sound area together, they would be about the same size as those who actually showed up and marched in the Pride Parade. And of course it’s alternative lifestyle, transgenderism, transvestitism, homosexuality, bisexuality, swinging – all of these kinds of things – in the Seattle Pride Parade. And that word “pride” is the same word that the Corinthians were using for their alternative lifestyle. Additionally in Seattle, down on Eastlake, there is a wine-tasting party that is regularly hosted that is nudist in nature. It’s a naked wine-tasting party on Eastlake.
Up in Linwood – you may say, “Well, this is an urban issue.” Up in Linwood there is a 13-acre swingers’ club for married couples that are non-monogamous and want to hook up with other married couples. There’s also one in Tukwilla, there’s also one in Redmond. You say, “Well, I didn’t know about that.” That’s because they don’t really advertise, you know, with billboards. But they’re out there, and these are groups that exist online, these are groups that exist through informal networks.
Also there’s a new trend – you may have seen it on a recent episode of CSI – called snuggle or cuddle parties, where people pay 15-20 bucks and 2 dozen, 3 dozen people get together in their pajamas – total strangers – and have a snuggle party. That’s going on here in Seattle; it’s actually becoming fairly popular. There is within walking distance of Mars Hill – I won’t tell you which direction, but there is actually one of the largest alternative sexual education centers in our city is within walking distance of our church, that has a 6,000 volume library on alternative sexuality and classes to train you in almost anything you could possibly think of and connect you with like-minded people who want to do things that the Bible says are wrong.
Additionally I didn’t even go to the Stranger’s classifieds. I didn’t go to the Seattle Weekly’s classifieds, because I was scared. But I did go to Craigslist, and the Seattle version of Craigslist, under casual encounters which assume you know what that means, and it means exactly what it sounds like. Like perfect strangers saying, “Let’s just be together in a sexual way right now completely anonymously.” 2,800 posts, roughly, that I counted – 28 pages at 100 a page – were posted in a week recently on Craigslist. Which means 2,800 people are saying, “Right now I need to have sex with a total stranger – here’s my e-mail.”
And additionally – this was perhaps the most curious – the latest issue of Seattle magazine came out, and they’ve got a large feature story on the largest churches in the state. And they’ve got a feature story in there that includes us, and it’s got a photo of me standing on the stage preaching the Gospel, talking about how we’re not gonna stop till we meet in Seahawk Stadium – that’s on page 115. And you flip to page 116 and the story is on alternative sexuality and adultery, and how there’s swingers in Seattle, and how the other option is. Basically, you go to Mars Hill or you get to go to one of the alternative swingers’ scenes.
Thought it was curious; like yeah, here’s our market. Here’s the people we’re going for – all the naked people – starting on 116. And we’re the church on page 115, and that’s the city we live in. And it’s a lot like Corinth. And so now what I need to do is I needed to show you that the country you’re in, culturally, is a lot like the promiscuous Greek culture, and that the city you’re in is a lot like the Corinthian city of promiscuity and sexual alternative lifestyle. And now we’ll look at the text, and we’ll see what God has to say about such things. Because there was a case of alternative lifestyle sexuality at the church in Corinth, they had great pride in how they supported and endorsed this couple.
So before you start chucking stuff – and literally, I gotta put chicken wire up like a honky-tonk bar, just hear me through on this. Just hear me through, and we’ll start in 1 Corinthians chapter 5:1, and as you’re turning there I will tell you two things that will help establish the precedent for where we’re going today. And if you don’t have your Bible, you should have gotten the loop notes on the way in. They will have the verses. The first is the question many of you will be asking is, “Well, what constitutes a sexual sin? What is acceptable and unacceptable according to Scripture?”
Everything I just read to you is unacceptable according to Scripture. According to the Bible, a man and a woman – crazy idea – a man and a woman get married. And then they be together, intimately. That’s it. Anything outside of that is unbiblical. One man, one woman, one flesh, one lifetime – that’s what the Bible intends. Anything outside of that – sex before marriage, sex outside of the marriage, bringing other people into the marriage bed, watching other people on a screen – whatever it is, unacceptable; unacceptable.
And the second question, then, is if all of these things are unacceptable, how should a church respond – especially a young, hip, cool, urban church, like Corinth or like Mars Hill. How should a church respond when the people in the church are so influenced by their culture that they’re thinking like non-Christians, acting like non-Christians, and promoting the kinds of things that non-Christians would promote? That’s what Paul addresses beginning in verse 1.
His first point is that church tolerance of alternative lifestyles is wicked – it’s evil. It’s really quiet today. I can tell I’m gonna get a lot of love and support. This is gonna be great. All right; that’s fine. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you.” This is a junk-drawer word. It encompasses all kinds of sexual immorality, because people are sneaky. They’ll say, “Well, it didn’t say I couldn’t do that.” Well, it says don’t do anything but get married and love your spouse. That’s what it means. Anything outside of that is sexual immorality.
“And of a kind that does not even occur among the pagans,” right? This is bad. When the non-Christians are going, “Nasty!” that’s nasty, right? That’s nasty! When the whole porn industry is going, “Eew!” you’ve crossed the line, right? And there’s no verses for you over there. “A man has his father’s wife.” I’ll read it again: “A man has his father’s wife.” What is that? His mother! Now, if you believe the Seattle Pride line, which is: two consenting adults have the freedom to do whatever we want, and who are we to judge? This fits that criteria. “Two consenting adults; who are we to judge?” That was the Corinthian response.
“A man is with his father’s wife.” Now, some of you are going, “Is that his mom?” I do not know. I do not want to know. To be honest with you, it’s Kentucky scary is what it is. We don’t know if this was his stepmother and his dad died, or they ran off together, or he was doing something like Reuben did with Abraham’s concubine in Genesis. I don’t know what’s going on here. All I know is it’s nasty! That’s all I know, right? If there’s one woman you call “mom,” and then you take her to prom, like you’ve crossed the line, right? You’ve crossed the line.
“And you are” – what’s his word – “proud!” You’re proud! You have buttons and bumper stickers and parades, and we’re tolerant, we’re diverse, we’re open-minded. We believe in freedom. Consenting adults get to do as they please. “Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief” – shouldn’t you have been just heartbroken that someone would do such a thing? Now, what that infers is that people in the church had massive sexual sin of their own. And they’re looking at this guy saying, “Whoa, I don’t want to judge him, because if we start drawing theological and moral lines, then that will condemn me as well because I got my own stuff. So I have pride for him, he has pride for me. We have tolerance, diversity, open-mindedness.”
Paul says, “Shouldn’t you have been filled with grief?” Shouldn’t it have been heartbreaking that this kind of thing would happen by people who profess to be Christians? We assume that people who are not Christians don’t understand. But people who profess to be Christians – that their conscience is so altogether broken, that they have become so filled with pride and perversion, that they reach the point where they not only have sexual sin, but they flaunt it publicly. They come to church together. They sit next to each other, and they hold hands, and they sing songs, and they take communion, and the church isn’t even grieved.
The church lets them get up and tell their story – how they’re consenting adults and their relationship is okay in the eyes of God because God is a God of love, and God doesn’t judge anyone. And God is absolutely tolerant, and God just wants us to be naked and happy. “You should have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this.” Shouldn’t you have kicked this guy out? Shouldn’t you have said, “That is unacceptable!” See, freedom is not always good. It’s better to be a slave to Christ, because the truth is you’re a slave to your lust, or you’re a slave to your Lord.
And freedom is nothing but slavery to lust, which leads to more sin, which leads ultimately to death. It’s a lie. There’s no freedom apart from Christ. Tolerance is not always good. When you tolerate that which God does not tolerate, you are declaring God to be evil. The code word in churches is open and affirming. We’re open and discouraging – that’s our position. Everyone can come, but not everyone is affirmed in their life. The call is not to affirmation. The call must always be to repentance. So freedom is a myth, and tolerance is a myth, and acceptance is not always a good thing.
“If you loved me, you would accept me.” No, if I loved you I would compel you toward change and obedience and holiness and a loving God. It’s not about acceptance; it’s about God! It’s not about us; it’s about him! God made the body. The body belongs to the Lord. And what happens is when you embrace the tolerance and freedom and the myth of acceptance as the greatest virtue, you end up bragging about evil. Not being ashamed; not being disgusted; no longer being horrified. Paul moves on to his second point, that if a Christian, someone who says they are a Christian, lives a habitual life of unrepentant sin, they must be disciplined by the church.
The church cannot sit idly by. The church must be proactive in defending itself against error and against immorality. And in saying this, Paul’s hope is not to punish that person, but to bring them to repentance. Just like a good parent with a child, the goal is not to destroy the child but to correct them so that they stop doing that which is evil. Paul says, verse 3: “Even though I am not physically present,” – Paul isn’t even there; he’s off helping start another church – “I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.”
Now, there is this nonsensical myth that unless you know me, and sit down with me, and we have a conversation, we’re in community, and you know my heart and you know my background, you can’t really judge me. Paul says, “I’m not even there. I already called it a sin.” You may not be able to have the ability to sit down with everyone who is doing something and to get all of the facts, but it’s very simple. “Are you having sex outside of marriage?” “Yes.” “Then you’re in sin.” “Well, you didn’t even meet with me.” “I don’t need to meet with you.” “Well, you don’t even know the story.” “I know the part of the story that matters.” “Well, I don’t feel like we’re in community.” “We’re not gonna be unless you knock it off.”
Paul goes on to say, “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” – when the church comes together – “and I am with you in spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that his sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” He says he’s a Christian, refuses to live like a Christian, flaunts with pride the alternative lifestyle that is incongruent with the teachings of Scripture, is not pleasing to a holy, righteous and good God. What should you do? Well, next time you have church – and this church was like 50 or 60 people, so everybody knew everybody, and everybody knew everything about everybody.
What he says is, “Bring that guy up, and hand him over to Satan, and kick him outside of the church.” You say, “Well, that sounds cruel.” No, actually it’s a very loving thing to do. Christians have two options: repentance or discipline. If you repent, then there is love, support, grace, mercy. The church doesn’t push you away; the church pulls you closer. Repentance. Oh, you don’t want to be a porn addict? You don’t want to be a sex addict? You don’t want to be a pervert? You want to change? Okay, great – welcome! We’re gonna walk with you. We’re gonna acknowledge that we’re all sinners – we’ve all fallen short. We acknowledge that sin does happen in the church, and the question is how will God’s people respond.
And Paul said previously, “Shall I come with a whip, or a hand of tender love?” The repentant get the hand of tender love. But this guy is unrepentant, and so he will get the whip. And the handing of him over to Satan is this: you do not get the privilege and right to continue to be in the church and have Christians love you and be in community with you and support you and encourage you and nurture you if you’re going to live a life of habitual sin that is unrepentant in nature. And so then you’re not fit for the church, so you must leave the church. And outside of the church, you will just run with Satan. That’s who you want to run with anyways.
The hope being that eventually you come to repentance. Eventually you say, “I miss the church. I miss my friends. I miss the loving community. I miss the support. I’ve sinned. I’ve done a grievous thing. And I want to return into good friendships with the people in the church, so I need to repent and come back.” That’s the hope and prayer. The prayer is not just to destroy someone, but the hope is to destroy their desire for sin, so that they may come back humbly, ready to walk with God. And I have seen this many times, dealing with cases that are very similar.
Someone claiming to be a Christian, living in the church, sinning continuously – we’re not talking about one day they sinned, and they’re heartbroken, and they need help. I’m talking about a habitual, ongoing, unrepentant pattern. We say, “Okay, fine. You’re dangerous. You can’t be in the church. You’re a sexual predator. You’re creating problems. You’re unrepentant. You’re a troublemaker. You are no longer welcome here until you come to repentance.” And I’ve seen people a year, two, three, four, five later come and say, “You know what – I was in sin, and I really miss my friends at the church. And I really miss walking with other Christians. And my conscience is bothering me. Will you forgive me?”
Absolutely! Just like the prodigal coming home, just smelling horrific but being greatly loved. Absolutely – we love you. Come on in. We want to help. We want to serve. But if your heart is hard, and you’re proud and arrogant, and you’re not only participating in sin, but you’re encouraging others to do likewise, we can’t walk with you at that point. You have to walk alone. When you repent, then we’ll happily walk with you.
Paul’s third point: churches become increasingly evil as they embrace alternative lifestyles. “Your boasting” – he says, verse 6 – “is not good.” Right? You shouldn’t have that bumper sticker on your car. You shouldn’t have that button on your sweatshirt if you’re a Christian. You should not be endorsing things that God does not, because you’re a coward, and you’re afraid to take the kind of shots that come to those who say, “I just don’t think it’s right. I believe that what God says is absolutely contrary.” “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast” – a little sin – “works through the whole batch of dough?” – works through the whole church.
“Get rid of the old yeast” – get rid of that sin – “so that you may be a new batch” – a holy, good church – “without yeast” – without sin – “as you really are” – positionally in Christ. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” See, in the days of Passover among God’s Old Testament people, they would cleanse their house. They would get rid of all of the filth so that they could be clean and holy and pure to worship the Lord.
It was all symbolizing, foreshadowing, and typifying the coming of Jesus Christ. God became a man, the Bible says, was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin; Hebrews 4. So Jesus experienced constant sexual temptation. He was a man in his early 30s who was unmarried and single. If he was tempted as we are, he was tempted as we are. We just must take that at face value. Yet he never sinned. So we see in the Lord Jesus there is a difference between temptation and sin. Being tempted is not a sin. Being tempted is an opportunity to sin or to walk with God in holiness and repentance.
And Jesus was tempted; he never did sin. He said “no” to all of his temptation. He lived a sinless life in the place of you and I who are sinners. And then Jesus went to the cross, and it says here that he was sacrificed. That his blood was shed; that the wage for sin is death; that the punishment for sinners is death. And Jesus Christ died. Our God substituted himself on the cross, and he died for our sins. And then three days later he rose, conquering Satan, sin and death – cleansing us, freeing us, enabling us to be a holy, new people. And what he’s saying is this: Because Jesus put your sin to death you must put your sin to death. Because Jesus has made you holy you must continually clean up your life by acknowledging your sin and living repentantly.
The problem is when this is not practiced it spreads. He uses the concept of a little bit of yeast working through a batch of dough; it continues to spread and manifest and grow. What he says is that sin is much like that, and that the church is much like that batch of dough. And any time sin is excused and accepted and tolerated that it doesn’t remain quarantined; that it spreads. Can you even imagine what it would be like at Mars Hill if we had a known male who was respected in the church who was committing adultery on his wife, and the church said, “Well, nobody’s perfect.”
Meet with the guy, he says, “Well, you know, my wife’s not taking care of my needs so I’ve got three or four on the side, and it works for our family. You need to be open-minded, tolerant. My wife’s okay with it. No harm, no foul. We’re an open lifestyle. We’re at the swingers’ club once in a while. You know, no harm, no foul. We’re consenting adults.” Next thing you know, his buddies in the church start listening to this nonsense, and they start doing the same thing. And then their buddies start listening to this nonsense and doing the same thing. And next thing you know, it goes from one man who’s sinning to an epidemic throughout the church.
And that’s what happens. If sin is tolerated, sin does not remain static. It’s like a cancer in a body. Sin is like a cancer in the church body. It spreads and grows until it kills, and that’s what it does. So for each of us, we must acknowledge that we have the potential to destroy our church if we sin, are unrepentant, become proud and boastful, encourage others to do likewise, some will. And eventually it will be an epidemic. Churches hammer on us for this all the time. “Mars Hill is narrow.” Of course it is! Jesus said, “Broad is the path to destruction. Narrow is the way to eternal life.” We are happily narrow – of course!
If you leave this church, you can go to another church and they will tell you if you are living together and not married, that’s okay. They’ll tell you if you’re gay, that’s okay. They’ll tell you if you’re married and you’re into porno and wife-swapping and open marriages, that’s okay. Because what they say is God’s a God of love. I’ll tell you what God loves: God loves his holiness. God loves his church. God loves his reputation. God loves his name. And God loves his Son, whom he crushed for our sins. Not just us in our sinful state. God loves those who repent. God loves those who come to him in humility.
But the arrogant, the proud, the boastful, the rebellious, God is angry. God is unhappy. God is displeased with that conduct. And unless there is a clear strength within the church to call sin, sin, to discipline those who are unrepentant, to deny them the benefits of church participation in the community, it does spread. I assure you of that. And his fourth point is that Christians therefore must be judgmental like Jesus. No one will like this point. “I have written to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral” – the non-Christians. Christians are notorious at expecting far more of non-Christians than Christians.
“Oh, you are gay. I can’t be your friend. Well, wait a second. Are you a Christian?” “No.” “You’re not? I should be your friend.” “Oh, you’re a pervert. You’re a sex addict. You’re a this. You’re a that. I shouldn’t work with you. I shouldn’t even talk to you. I should never even pray with you, or pray for you, because you’re nasty.” No. “Are you a Christian?” “No.” “You’re not a Christian – well, then I should not disassociate with you. I should love you. I should pray for you. I should talk to you. I should extend a hand of friendship.”
“Oh, and you say you’re a Christian, and you’re unrepentant, and you have a lifestyle of sin? Oh, well, I understand, brother; nobody’s perfect.” Paul says absolutely wrong; non-Christians – patient love; hypocritical, unrepentant Christians – swift discipline. We tend to extend all the mercy and the grace to the unrepentant Christians and drop the heavy hand on all the non-Christians – absolutely wrong. If you’re here today, and you’re not a Christian, we love you. You’re welcome – welcome to be here. I’m not God. I don’t judge who goes to Heaven and hell. I’m trying to teach you the Bible so that you can deal with the real God.
But if you’re here and you’re a Christian, and you live a life of unrepentant, habitual sin, and you don’t want to change, and you’re all proud of yourself thinking you’ve found an alternative lifestyle that fits the Christian way of living, you’re in great, great, great self-deception. Paul says, “I’ve written you” – verse 9 – “in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral.” The non-Christians, right? They’re sexually perverted, “greedy, swindlers, idolaters” – non-Christians sin. You should expect that. Don’t be disappointed and angry and mad.
“In that case you would have to leave this world.” You’d just have to leave the planet. Saved, rapture, gone, because you don’t want to deal with any immoral people. And some people live that way, right? We just close our house and our family and our life down. We hunker down. We don’t talk to those people; they’re nasty. Those are the people that Jesus spent his time with, and all the religious hypocrites criticized him for it. “But now I’m writing that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother” – anybody who says, “I’m a Christian” – and then he expands it – “who is sexually immoral” – any kind of sexual sin.
“Greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a swindler. With such a man to not even eat” – don’t break bread and have friendship. If they say they’re a Christian, and they won’t accept their sin, they won’t repent of their sin, they won’t confess their sin, they won’t deal with their sin, then leave them alone. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” It’s an issue of jurisdiction. Paul says, “Outside of the church I don’t have any jurisdiction – only in the church.” Same here as a pastor – outside of Mars Hill, I don’t have any jurisdiction. I can’t walk up to Capitol Hill and start pronouncing judgment. I can’t walk into Fremont, start pronouncing judgment. That’s not my job.
My job is to pastor your church, and my job is to teach the Bible, and my job is to serve our people who claim to be Christian and those who are curious about the things of God. “Are you not to judge those inside?” Rhetorical question – yeah, you have to. “God will judge those outside. But expel the wicked man from among you.” Here’s what he’s saying: Christians should judge one another within the church, and those that are not in the church, those that are not professing Christians, God will judge them. We don’t know their heart. We don’t know their life. We don’t know their mind. We don’t know what they’re doing. We don’t know if they’re elect. We don’t know if God’s gonna save them. We don’t know what’s going on – God does.
Jesus says, “All judgment has been entrusted to me.” Non-Christians – and if you are a non-Christian, you will live your life, and you will stand before Jesus Christ at the end of time, and you will be judged. That’s the way it’s gonna go. In the meantime, we don’t pass judgment on you. We’ll tell you what’s sinful and not sinful, but as far as your eternal state goes, we don’t make that decision. Jesus does. Jesus does. But for those in the church, we must judge. We have to judge. Some of you will struggle with this. You say, “Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Thou shalt not judge?’”
Right, every 20-year-old marginal Christian I know has two verses memorized. “Every seed-bearing plant the Lord God gave is good,” which means, “I can smoke weed.” And the other one is, “Thou shalt not judge.” That’s all they got. That’s their whole systematic theology right there. “I can get high – don’t say anything.” That’s there systematics. In Matthew chapter 7:1-5 is the context in which Jesus says, “Thou shalt not judge,” but what he’s talking about is hypocrisy. He’s saying, “If you have a 2 × 4 in your eye, and your buddy’s got a speck of dust, don’t walk up and say, ‘You got dust in your eye. You’d better deal with that.’ Because your buddy will say, ‘And you have a 2 × 4, and I think yours is more obvious and more urgent.’”
What he says is, “Get the 2 × 4 out of your eye – literally – and then go to your brother, say, ‘You know, that speck of dust is gonna cause problems. I know; I used to have a 2 × 4 in my head.’” And so Jesus is talking not about not judging, but about not judging as a hypocrite. Not coming up and saying, “You know, when me and my wife and our girlfriend were together this week, we were just thinking that maybe you and your wife don’t have a very good marriage.” Paul says, you know, you probably should deal with your stuff before you deal with somebody else’s stuff, right?
There’s nothing worse than somebody who comes up and says, “You know, you’re sick and nasty.” And you know them, and you say, “You know what, you’re sicker and nastier.” “Oh, yeah – I forgot.” Well, conveniently, we do – that before we run around judging other Christians we’re repentant, we acknowledge our own stuff. So Jesus isn’t saying don’t judge; what he’s saying is don’t judge prematurely, before you’ve dealt with your own sin, and don’t judge hypocritically in exception of dealing with your own sin. Now, here’s the issue: you and I are all sinners. Do I come into Christianity as a clean guy?
I don’t. Some of you say, “He doesn’t understand.” Oh, I do! Walking distance to my house growing up was three or four strip clubs. I grew up in SeaTac. Not a lot of Bible thumpers come out of airport areas, right? I mean, people fly in to break the Ten Commandments anonymously and then fly out. That’s what happens around an airport. I grew up off Pac Highway, where Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer picked up all the prostitutes, because that’s where they all were – at the end of my street. My first job was at a 7-11 next to the strip club, selling 40-Ouncers and lotto tickets after I lied about my age.
Have I looked at porno? Yeah. Have I had sex with gals I wasn’t married to? Yeah. How old was I when I got saved? 19. 19, yeah, so I life of sin, including sexual sin. Then I became a Christian, and my conscience kicked in, I’m reading the Bible. I still remember calling a pastor – middle of the night, he should’ve seen it coming. I call him up and I said, “I was reading the Bible” – it was actually 1 Corinthians 6, we’ll get to it shortly. I said, “What is fornication?” He says, “Why?” “A friend of mine wants to know” – right? That’s what I’m doing. That’s always the 20-year-old guy: “A friend of mine’s got a real problem with his sexuality.”
And the guy’s like, “Fornication means having sex with your girlfriend.” I was like, “Uh, you sure?” “Yeah.” “What if she’s hot, and you like her?” “Yep.” So okay, still counts – dang it! So then literally he told me, “It’s a sin.” And I was like, “Okay, now I’ve gotta figure it out. Am I gonna sin or not sin? Am I gonna claim to be a Christian and live like a non-Christian or not?” At that point, repented of sexual sin, stopped having sexual relationships and activity, stopped looking at porn, repent. Stop! Self-control. And the issue is I understand that the world we live in is highly complicated, very inundated with regular temptation. I’ve been solicited at this church for sex while serving communion.
I’ve been serving communion – pockets on my shirt, I’ve had gals put notes in telling me what they’ll do. Look, I understand we’re not in the most chaste, glorifying, holy, simple place – I get that. But again, will you, as an individual, will we, as a church, accept this truth: that fellowship, friendship, community within the church of Jesus Christ is predicated upon people repenting of sin. There’s this stupid new doctrine out called “radical hospitality,” which means we welcome everybody, even the non-Christians, and even the people who are unrepentant. And we tell them all they’re going to Heaven, and we don’t make any moral judgments.
Hell is a place of radical hospitality. The church cannot be. The church must be a place of conditional fellowship; it must be. Now, so if you’re here today, you say, “I got my stuff,” well, welcome to Mars Hill. The question is: are you a Christian? Have you repented of your sins, put your faith in Jesus? The question is: do you want to change? Do you want to repent? Do you want to get better? If so, you don’t need to have your stuff together. You need to have a willing heart; that’s what you need to have.
If so, you’re a guy, I’ve written a little booklet, you can get it for free on your way out. It’s called Reforming Male Sexuality. It deals with pornography, masturbation, some of these issues for guys. If you’re a person that’s been sexually abused, or you’ve got all kinds of sexual addictions, we have grace groups, and they are full, and we are training leaders as quickly as we can, because this is an epidemic with all the people coming into the church. But we want you to get over your sexual addictions, perversions, your sexual pain. We want to walk with you and help you as the church.
We have a Biblical Counseling department that does meetings with people who want to get better. Join a community group, make friendships and have accountability with people who want to help you get better. Additionally if need be, we’ll refer you out to professionals, because perhaps some of you have very extreme things going on, and you’re going to need very professional help – people who love Jesus and know how to get you out of the dark pit that you find yourself in. See, we don’t want to be a church that just is hard on sin. We also want to be a church that is very firm on love and grace and mercy and help.
So if you want to get better, we want to help. And if you don’t want to get better, and you claim to be a Christian, you’re very dangerous in this church because you could be encouraging everyone to be just like you. We don’t want everyone to be unhealthy and sick and addicted and perverted and out of control. We want people to live in the joy that it is to obey God with holiness and a clear conscience; that’s what we want. So you don’t need to come in having your stuff together. I didn’t come into the church with my stuff together. I came in as a big mess with all kinds of sin, and the church I was in helped me, by God’s grace, to change.
This church exists to help you change. We want to help. The question is: do you want to change, or are you so proud and arrogant, so unbiblical and so hard-hearted, that you would not only excuse yourself, you would boast of it and tell people, “Oh, that’s just the opinion of that church. Myself, I’m very smart, very educated, very enlightened. I’m very modern. We’ve evolved. We’ve developed. This is the 21st century.” I’ll close with a few objections.
Some of you will say – and this will probably get me shot, but – some of you will say, “But this sounds like discrimination!” It is. I’ll just lean over the plate and take one for the team – it is! You say, “Well, discrimination’s wrong.” Everyone does it. How many dudes are in the National Organization for Women? They discriminate against dudes. Try to be a smoker in a restaurant – they will discriminate against you. “No smoking. Go outside, 25 feet from the building, in the rain – we discriminate.” Try to be an obese person who flies on an airplane and buys one seat – you’ll be discriminated against. Try to be a person who says, “I’m pro-educational choice. I believe we should have homeschool, private school, public school, and I believe parents should be able to choose.” No – we discriminate.
You are in a discriminatory culture. Don’t recycle – see what your neighbors do. Drink and drive – see if they discriminate against you. Hypothetically – don’t drink and drive. Right, we discriminate. Registered sex offender says, “I would like to teach elementary school.” Sorry – we discriminate. The church is also a discriminating place, absolutely. This is right, this is wrong. Do you want to change or not? Secondly, some would say, “You can’t judge me!” If you claim to be a Christian, you claim to be in the church, we have jurisdiction – we do judge you. The Bible does judge you. God does judge you. Absolutely.
And lastly, some of you say, “But there are other churches that allow alternative lifestyles. What about them?” Well, here’s the truth: you can confess your sin to God. You can walk with the Lord Jesus. You can be humble in heart and repentant. And the alternative is you can go to hell. We do believe in alternative lifestyles. We believe that a lot of people are going to hell, and that’s the alternative. Some of you say, “Are you judging?” I’m judging those who claim to be Christians that endorse things that God does not – that God does not. And I’ve argued with the pastors, and they say stupid things like, “Well, Jesus never said you can’t have sex outside of marriage.”
Jesus was an Old Testament rabbi. Jesus also never said you can’t rape a child; that doesn’t mean you can. Just because Jesus didn’t say something doesn’t mean it’s okay. Jesus is an Old Testament Bible teacher – came to fulfill all of the Old Testament. Taught the Scriptures repeatedly – was a rabbi. Some of you are so much influenced by culture that you are barely even Christian. You say, “Why does this matter?” Because the church is to be a counter-culture, a holy people that does things differently – money, sex, marriage, family, self-identity – different.
Not just, “Well, what do they think? Well, that’s what we think,” and that’s what we do. We just parrot whatever the culture says, because we want to be loving, acceptable and tolerant. They murdered our God. The culture murdered Christ because he said they were wrong. You and I must not allow the culture to convert us. We must be about converting culture. It doesn’t mean we hate the world. We love the world, but we stand against the world for the sake of the world. Tell me if this is a great place. Tell me if the addiction, compulsion, suicide, death – it’s not a culture of life and grace and freedom and joy. It’s not.
So here’s the deal: we are an alternative lifestyle church, right? You want to be alternative getting naked, being gay, getting drunk? That’s not alternative – that’s the majority. You want to be counter-culture? You want to be a total rebel? Get a job. You want to be counter-culture, totally alternative, radical? Be a virgin till you get married to a person of the opposite gender and then stay married and pump out some kids, and pay your taxes and read the Bible, you freak. You’ll be just totally the rebel. They interviewed me for Blender magazine, and they said, “Well, how do you co-exist in an alternative punk rock culture?”
I said, “The only thing alternative and punk rock left is to not be high, keep your pants on, get married, make kids, read the Bible, mow your lawn, pay your taxes – that’s the only freakish thing left to do to rebel against the system.” So we’re all a bunch of rebels, and God’s people are supposed to be the sort of radical idealists that say, “One person – that’s all I want to have a relationship with intimately. I want to live a counter-cultural lifestyle, trusting that God will give me the grace to do so, and that I will have a clear conscience. And I will one day see him face to face, and I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So welcome to Mars Hill. We have a great city, and a great mission, and a great opportunity. It comes down to you and I saying we will live repentantly. We will call sin, sin. And we will first call our sin, sin. And we will be accountable. And we will deal with sin. And we will have humble hearts that are willing to change for the sake of the reputation of Christ, for the sake of the city to which we have been called, for the sake of our eternal destiny, and for the sake of the quality of our church. I’ll pray. This is always an opportunity for you to repent of sin and trust in Jesus. If you’re not a Christian, you need to become a Christian.
Jesus Christ is your only hope for the forgiveness of sins. Give your sin to him. Ask him to forgive you, and he will. He knows the desires of your heart. For those of you who are Christians and you have sin that is unrepentant and habitual, and you’ve got all kinds of excuses for yourself – accept the fact that God is judging you, and the church is judging you today, and come to repentance. And if afterward you want to pray with someone, leaders will be available. There are counselors in the church. There are groups. There are ways that we want to help.
Are our systems bombed because this is epidemic? Absolutely, but by God’s grace we will – we will keep up. For those of you who have been judgmental of everyone outside of the church and sort of lackadaisical with your friends, and you allow them the continual, unrepentant, known sin, don’t say anything – you need to repent of your cowardice, and of your self-righteousness, and of your hypocrisy in exchanging the hands of love to the unbelieving and justice to the believing. When you’re ready, you can give your tithes and offerings, if you’re a Christian.
You can partake of communion, if you’re a Christian, to remember the body and blood of Jesus Christ as we celebrate communion; that our Passover Lamb has been slain; that our sins have been forgiven; that we have been made holy. And now we must simply live in the state to which we have been saved by grace.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for an opportunity to study your Word today. God, it’s a hard word, but I know that hard words produce soft people, and I know that soft words produce hard people. God, we want to be a soft people. God, I acknowledge and accept that I am a sinner; that I struggle with the same thing that everybody else struggles with. God, that I have a life of impurity. I have a past of impurity. And I thank you that by grace you have enabled me to undergo change. I pray that for all of my friends that are gathered here today.
God, I pray that they would be singularly devoted to your glory and your Word. And that they would repent of sin and trust in you. And that this church would be a holy place, pleasing to you, countering culture, not to stand against the world for the condemnation of the world, but to stand against the world for the salvation of the world, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
You’ve been listening to the Mars Hill Church sermon series “Christians Gone Wild: 1 Corinthians”, taught by Pastor Mark Driscoll. If you have any questions or comments about the sermon –