By Todd Lockwood
It is true that Jesus taught to forgive seventy times seven but there is a difference between forgiving and supporting the continual growth of rotten fruit (Matt 7:16, 18:21-22). A fellow believer can continue to sin and be forgiven but it would be unwise to allow that individual to begin or continue to be a negative influence to others. There are examples in scripture of sin being bad enough that it leads to the removal of someone from a church, fellowship, or ministry (1 Cor 5, 2 Thess 3:14-15, Acts 15:36-41). The following excerpt from an article of John Piper, How Satan Saves the Soul, shares how Paul instructed the believers in Corinth to respond to sin (1 Cor 5):
Toleration of Sin Is Sinful
I think it should give us great pause—even shock us—that the diagnosis of the problem at Corinth is exactly the opposite from the diagnosis in many churches today. Today when discipline doesn't happen the diagnosis is often that we are too humble to discipline a person: Who are we to point our finger? Who are we to judge? Who are we to cast the first stone? And so a supposed humility is made the basis of tolerance of impenitent immorality in the church.
On the other hand, today if a church does follow through on discipline it is often diagnosed as coming straight from pharisaical pride. Indignation at sin is often portrayed as a cloak for insecurity and a veil over the Pharisees' own sexual temptations. A kind of "holier-than-thou" attitude is said to be the basis of the indignation and arrogance is said to be the basis of the excommunication.
Now that may be true. But does it give you pause and make you think hard and examine your hearts (it did me) when you read in verse 2 that Paul's diagnosis of the problem at Corinth was exactly the opposite? There, arrogance was the basis of tolerance, and broken-hearted humility should have been the basis of excommunication.
By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/how-satan-saves-the-soul