In the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians, Paul has been unrelentingly addressing the first of two major issues that plagued the newly established Corinthian Church — Disunity. The lack of unity that existed amongst these believers was reaping tragic consequences. Therefore, Paul needed to spend significant time on it. As we arrive now at chapter five, Paul transitions his attention onto the second major issue — Purity.
Tragically, sexual immorality existed in this body of believers; after all, how could there not be? Remember, the city of Corinth was an epicenter for travelers and worshippers of a variety of Greek god’s. One of which was Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, whose temple housed 1,000 prostitutes. And then there was Apollo, Greek god of music and poetry, whose worshippers would engage in homosexual acts at the temple devoted to him. So in a culture saturated in pursuing sexual pleasure, to the point that it’s a part of their formal worship, it would be understandable that this would be a major issue in the life of the church.
We see similar effects in our culture today. In America, we are bombarded with sexual images and information. Anything coming from the TV or magazine racks has blaring images containing sexual content. And what are the effects of this on society? Well, there are many consequences for this that is still be researched, but one thing it does is normalize sex outside of God’s design.
When a TV show portrays a homosexual relationship as something normal and healthy in society then the viewers are deceived into believing that seam-sex relationships are a viable option for the family. When people see billboards on the side of the freeway advertising a nearby strip club they begin to think that it is normal to treat women as objects for sexual pleasure. And this list of the types of media that is normalizing the pursuit of sex outside of God’s design could go on and on. But the point is that this immersion of sexual content in society affects the culture of the world and the church.
The church is simply a people group called out of the world and into a countercultural community through a countercultural message (gospel), to worship God and then witness to the world through a countercultural lifestyle. Here’s the problem, this transaction/transformation is both instantaneous and a process. We are immediately changed and transferred from darkness to light. Yet we still need to fight sin, flee immorality and put off the worldly behaviors that previously defined our lives.
Sin is a devastating thing, but in the church sin that is not dealt with is even worse. The reason for this is because sin, like a disease, spreads. It affects everyone around. Therefore, like a disease, it needs to be treated and at times, like a cancer, it needs to be removed completely.
Jesus Christ came and died to liberate us from the effects of sin and to reconcile us back to the Father. As a mark of genuine conversion, a person needs to fix their hope solely on Christ and live a life of repentance from sin. God uses the church, fellow believers in Christ, to help in this lifestyle of repentance as the Holy Spirit transforms us more into the image of Christ.