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For the church to grow spiritually and be blessed by God, any and all sin must be put away. When a congregation becomes aware that sin is among them they must act to rid the “body of Christ” of that sin. If they don't the presence of God and Jesus will not enter that group. So, Paul writes 1Corinthians (as a whole) to test this church to see if they would be obedient in everything, but he inserts a very troubling situation “a type of sexual immorality that even the pagans reject” and requires the church to expel this individual. Paul uses these stern words: “deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh”(1Cor. 5:5) not in a vindictive way, but in a way of hope! The idea of being turned over to Satan is quite frighting and Paul's use of words worked! This man repented and was looking for forgiveness, but he wasn't getting it. This example is where this church failed and Paul needed to remind them that when a sinner truly repents, they should welcome the individual back into the church and show “love” to him (1Cor. 13). Paul addresses this in 2Cor. 2:5-11.

Update: When we read the words in a book and consider them truth we can easily be deceived (myself included). This has occurred with this question and the statement: "a type of sexual immorality that even the pagans reject." The facts recorded in history actually state that the Greeks and Romans had extremely liberal sexual practices. The ancient Greek and Roman sexual laws mostly related to marriage. When Gentile marital laws were broken, the offending female spouse could be killed, but men were not severely punished. Jacob's firstborn son Reuben was cursed because he had sex with his father's concubine (wife) Genesis 35:22 and 49:4. The related story does not state that the offender married his father's wife or even if his father was still alive. It was common knowledge that if a husband died, the wife was released from the marriage laws (this law caused many to be killed because of the beauty of a woman; example: King David). This could also explain why the Corinth church didn't think this was a big deal. We also have to consider whether this woman was actually his father's concubine, which again would be considered a different category by Gentiles. So, with this new information, I now take the position that the statement in question is probably “spurious” and was added by a second or third century copyist. This is about the time when stricter sexual laws were implemented. [but in many cases not obeyed (somewhat like today)]. These statements do not alter my support for all of God's sexual laws and it seems that Paul supported them as well.


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One must look back at v:1- It is actually reported that there is immortality among you, and immortality of such a kind does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his fathers wife. (New American Standard Bible) Apparently, the Corinthians felt proud that they could tolerate such a shocking sin. Perhaps they congratulated themselves that their love could overlook the kind of behavior that ordinarily brought condemnation. However their tolerance was allowing the church to remain defiled. Not only was it ruining their influence in the community, but it was also dividing the fellowship and confusing new believers.
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This man who had sexual relations with his father's wife had to be expelled from the congregation of Corinth because he was defiling it. God's spirit is holy and cannot operate in spiritual dirt. Outside the congregation rules Satan, "the Prince (or, ruler) of this world". (John 12:31) The spirit mentioned is not the Holy Spirit but the Christian attitude within the congregation. Greeks still use up this day the word "spirit" in this sense. For example, they will speak of "showing a good spirit of cooperation" and "when the spirits aggravate" meaning "when people start getting angry". God's holy spirit helps Christians develop the good qualities of its fruitage. (Galatians 5:22) Its absence from the congregation would cause the spirit of the congregation to deteriorate. The man's expulsion would thus save this spirit or attitude.
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