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.”
Sin offends God. It is an affront to his holiness. He hates and despises the wicked (Ps. 5:5). But there are two ways God is dealing with those who are sinful. To the world, those who do not call themselves Christians, those who have not put their faith in Christ he is calling them to repent of their sins and turn to him. We are called to proclaim repentance and forgiveness (Luke 24:47) to them. To those who call themselves “Christian” and commit sins we are to do the same thing, call them to repent and receive the forgiveness of God. But what is the church to do with those who refuse to repent and continue in rebellion against God in their sinful ways. Paul makes it clear that we are to not associate with them even to the point that we are not even to fellowship with them in any way (that’s what it means to not even eat with such a one). The old term used in church circles is to excommunicate them, to remove them from the church. This teaching is not Paul’s alone, Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 18. Why? Why are we supposed to remove such people from the church? First, the church is to be pure before God and not tolerate those who would call themselves Christians but live in sinful ways. There sinful ways defame the name of the Lord and destroy his glory. Second, we do so as a loving act that might lead them to repentance. Excommunication is not about being vindictive, or hateful, or intolerant, it’s about love, and grace and mercy that if that person truly is a child of God that they would turn in repentance, to turn from their life of sin and into the loving arms of the Father. So the church is called to bring glory to the name of God and we do so by “purging the evil person from among you,” all with a heart of hope that they might turn back to God.