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The Apostle here enters upon the Subject of Reproof. He very sweetly introduceth the Example of Christ, and speaks of Him as the Passover. The Chapter concludes with Exhortations.
(1) 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. (2) And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. (3) For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. (4) In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, (5) To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
It is well worthy the Reader's observation, as he enters upon the perusal of this chapter, how much disposed the corrupt part of our fallen nature is, to oppose and interrupt the renewed part, in all her progress in grace. Satan is well aware, that he hath no opportunity so effectual, to harass and distress the soul of a child of God, but by his enticements of the body. He, therefore, allures the flesh with its corruptions and lusts, to bring on a coldness in spiritual exercises. And, if he can but accomplish his devilish purpose, by interrupting the soul's access to the throne, his object is soon effected, in drawing off the mind that fleshly pursuits may be the more easily followed. Oh! what a deadness have some precious souls at times found on this account?
It should seem, from what is here said, that some one of no small rank in the Church, on account of gifts and abilities, had fallen into a foul offence of an unnatural and forbidden connection, even to the marrying his Father's wife. And the Church was so elated with the services of this man that they absolutely overlooked in the preacher, the shameful conduct of his life.
The Apostle was now at Philippi, from whence, as we learn at the conclusion of this Epistle, he wrote it to the Church at Corinth. His absence, however, did not lessen his Apostolic authority, nor, his zeal for the Lord's service. And he, therefore, in a sharp and decided manner, passeth judgment upon the person so offending. The sentence is remarkable, and deserves our attention. The offender was to be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Various have been the opinion of different Commentators on this remarkable sentence. But I confess, that to my view, it appears to mean nothing more, than that this incestuous person should be for a time deprived the privilege of Church communion. And this, indeed, properly speaking, was a delivery to Satan, and to a child of God most painfully afflicting. And I am the more inclined to this opinion, because it was the act of the Church. Paul passed the sentence, by directing, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, what should be done; but the Church, when gathered together, was to perform it. And, as the object intended from it was, that while the flesh was mortified, (which, to a man of great abilities, must have been humbling indeed,) the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus; this plainly proved, that though this man had fallen into this foul offence, yet was he still considered by the Apostle as a child of God.
As the subject is truly interesting, I would take occasion therefrom, to offer an observation or two upon it, which, if the Lord be pleased to bless, may be rendered profitable.
It is very evident, from the Apostle's statement of this man's case, that he considered the spirit and the flesh in this instance, as in the Apostle's general method of explaining this subject, as in opposition to one another. And this I beg may be noticed as an additional proof, that when a child of God is renewed by regeneration, it is the spirit only which is quickened, the body remains the same. The old man, as it is called, the body of sin is wholly unrenewed. Grace makes no alteration here. No part of it is sanctified. So that, while at the new birth or regeneration, the spirit is quickened and made a partaker of the divine nature, and can die no more; and being united to Christ, and part of Christ, and interested in all that belongs to Christ, is as holy in Christ's holiness, as it ever will be to all eternity; the body is the same mass of corruption as it derived from Adam in the fall; the sin generated in the Adam-nature, hath its subsistence in the flesh, and will remain until corruption puts on incorruption, and mortal puts on immortality.
Now it is the blessed state of a renewed soul, to be brought into such a sweet communion and fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, by the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost; that when the Lord the Spirit hath quickened, and made a child of God a new creature in Christ Jesus, his spiritual part is daily, hourly, aiming through grace, to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. Hence, the everlasting warfare in every renewed mind between the flesh and the spirit, between corruption and grace. And it would be well, if every child of God, when brought out of a state of nature, was made sensible of this. He is renewed but in part. He still carries about with him a body of sin and death, which interrupts but too often, his soul's desires and pursuits. And, although, through the divine strength imparted to him, he is enabled, and not unfrequently, to keep down, and restrain, and mortify the old man; yet, daily he knows and feels to his sorrow, that sin and sinful corruptions still retain their dwelling place in the flesh, and which compel him to confess with Paul, that when he would do good, evil is present with him. And, although, he delights in the law of God after the inward man; yet he sees another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members, Romans 7:21 to the end.
Such being evidently the case, and which induceth continual soul exercises, and deep groans, at times, in the hearts of the Lord's people: it hath been questioned, and in great humbleness of enquiry; wherefore is it, that since sin is so offensive to the Lord, and so loathsome to every renewed child of God, that the Lord should permit such remains of indwelling corruption to continue? Might not the Lord, when renewing the spirit, have made holy the flesh also? Are not our bodies the Lord's, as well as our souls? Hath not Jesus married both? And will not my body, (saith the child of God,) as well as my soul, be Christ's forever in the upper world, and in glory with Him forever? How then is it, that I groan daily, being burdened with sinful flesh, when my Lord knoweth how much I long for deliverance, and how easily my Lord, with a word speaking, could make my body as holy as my soul?
These, and the like questions, have arisen in the minds of God's people, when regeneration-work hath taken place in their souls from the earliest days of the Church, and been brought forward in every generation from age to age. But, after all that hath been said, and after all the earnest cries of the soul, God's dear children feel the same, and groan at times as deep as ever. Reader! pause over the subject. Depend upon it, the Lord hath a gracious design in all his dispensations, and doth, and will, overrule every event of the present time-state of his Church to his own glory, and his people's welfare. The Holy Ghost hath said, by his servant the Apostle, that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28 . And well we know, that sorrows and afflictions, trials and temptations, wants and weaknesses, in his Almighty hand, minister to this end. And even sin itself, the evil of all evils, though in its very nature and tendency hath everlasting ruin in its deadly fruit; yet like medicine extracted from poison, becomes subservient to the divine glory, when the Lord converts evil into good. Thus the malice of hell, in the ruin of Adam, laid a foundation for the sweetest of all mercies in Christ. Thus the cross of Jesus, when sin brought on his death, became the everlasting salvation and life of his people. And thus all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called of God. Mark the expression. To them that love God; not that love sin, but hate sin. To them that hate their own bodies, on account of sin, and loath themselves in their own sight. Oh! how a child of God, when fully made acquainted with the plague of his own heart, will hate sin, and hate self, and fly to Christ to seek deliverance from it. Reader! these thorns in the flesh keep souls humble. The consciousness what a mass of evil mingles up with all we say, and all we do, destroys all dependence upon both. And far better is it to be thus humbled in self, that Christ may be all in all, than even if our hearts were more pure, if so be, that this supposed purity made us proud. And how do we sometimes long to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, when any renewed instance of human infirmity makes a child of God go heavily, and in sharp soul distress?
(6) Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (7) Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I am the more inclined to think, that the delivering of the person , before spoken of by the Apostle, to Satan, referred to the separating him from Church communion and ordinances, by what is here said of keeping the feast on the Passover, inasmuch as the Apostle bids them, at the same time he calls them to observe the feast, to purge out the old leaven. But whether so or not, it is very blessed, the authority which God the Holy Ghost hath here given to call Christ our Passover, because it clearly and decidedly proves, that that sacred service in the Jewish Church, was wholly typical of Christ. And again in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the blessed Spirit confirms the same, when telling the Church, that Moses kept it by faith. What faith? Surely an eye to Christ. See Exodus 12:42 ; Hebrews 11:28 . Now the Christian feast is a feast upon Christ's sacrifice. That sacrifice, as Christ our Passover, was once offered, Hebrews 10:14; Hebrews 10:14 . But the feast is to be kept continually, For as often as we eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, we do shew forth the Lord's death till he come, 1 Corinthians 11:26 . And it is a beautiful direction the Apostle gives of keeping this feast, that there is to be no leaven with it. For, as the Jews of old, before the celebration of the feast of the Passover, searched by the light of a lamp every secret corner and part of their houses, to see if there was any leaven hid away, and which if they found, they at once removed; so the true believer in Christ, is to have no leaven to mingle with Christ. His heart, he prays the light of God's Spirit to search, and take away everything of his that might be mingled with Christ and his righteousness, that he may receive a whole Christ into a broken heart. Christ, and Christ alone, is the Lord's Passover; and Christ, and Christ alone, is his also. Reader! it is very blessed when a child of God views Christ as God the Father views him, and makes him as Jehovah makes him, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of salvation.
(9) I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: (10) Yet not altogether the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. (11) But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat. (12) For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? (13) But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
I do not think it necessary to detain the Reader with any particular observation on what is here said in those verses. He very plainly teacheth us, that what he wrote was to the Church, not to the ungodly world. He saith that he hath nothing to do in judging them that are without. These he leaves to the Lord. But his affectionate advice was to the Church. And to the Church he again recommends their putting away from among them that wicked person. And if, as I am inclined to think, that this putting away, was for a season from ordinances, for the humbling the soul, and admonishing the Church, it serves to shew, how watchful the Apostle was over Ordinances and Church government, and becomes a suitable pattern for the Church or God, in all ages, to adopt upon all like occasions of sin in the members
SEE, my soul! what corruptions the human heart is exposed to, and how the peace and prosperity of Church-communion, is liable to be interrupted by the improper indulgence of fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Oh! for grace to keep the heart with all diligence! Lord, do thou keep thy Church, thy people, with thy watchful care, for without thee we are nothing!
Blessed be God the Holy Ghost for this short but sweet portion in this Chapter, which calls upon us to behold Christ, our Passover, sacrificed for us; and to know our Lord in this most precious, and blessed office-character. Yes! thou dearest Jesus! methinks I would eye thee with unceasing delight, as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. Thou wert, indeed, and art still, and ever will be, a lamb of the first year without blemish, and without spot. Thou wert taken out, as the Jewish lamb was; from among the flock, the One, the holy individual One chosen by God from among the people; holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. Lord! give me grace to keep the feast on this, thy one, thine all-sufficient sacrifice, to thy praise and my unceasing comfort, during the whole of my time-state here below, until thou shalt bring me home to the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven. Let there be no leaven found in my heart or house. Oh! for the Lord so to prepare me for this and every other holy ordinance, that I may make Christ my whole and sole Passover. Let me so paschatize and keep the feast upon my Lord's sacrifice, that both in doctrine, and in life, and conversation, Christ may be all, and in all. Jesus will preside at his own table, who both makes the feast, and is the feast, my New Testament altar, sacrifice, and sacrificer. And I shall sit down at his table with great delight here below; and ere long, at his table above, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the heirs with the whole Church of the same promise!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29