By Karen Polich
“A Holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.” – Dwight L. Moody
Have you noticed, at times Christians can stoop lower than even the most immoral non-believer in their behavior? We all fall short, but there is a difference between boastful embraced sin and sin we turn from. Within the church, a life of perpetual, unrepentant sin is a personal tragedy that leads to a negative public testimony without the removal of it from the fellowship. Sin in the fellowship that comes with no desire to change must be dealt with.
Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon, Missing the Mark of Holiness from the Forming the Church We’re Called to Be series here. Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 5: 1-13 focused on how the church in Corinth had lost its way. As believers, we are called to more. We are called to change the culture around us and show Godly influence in the world around us. We cannot have a flippant attitude toward sin. As a church, if sin is allowed to go on, what testimony does it send? God’s Word is clear. In sincerity and truth, the sin must be removed and put out of the fellowship. (Paul was clear that he was speaking about the immoral behavior of believers, not the lost. See scripture above.)
Church discipline is something done out of love, like the correcting of a child. It is about love for people but hate for sin. The church is to help, bearing witness to the testimony of Christ, not hiding in isolation. A church without holiness has nothing to say to a lost world. We are called to be different and to be the salt and light for a lost world. Matthew 5:13-14
It starts with the close examination of our own hearts. How are we choosing to live? If we are allowing sin to infiltrate the outpouring of our lives, how long before we are just another bad apple in the bunch?
The church must demonstrate within its own body what holiness looks like. Everyone is a sinner. Believers are forgiven in Christ but must choose to pursue a life focused on Christ and free from the shackles of sin. To miss the mark and fall short is one thing. To live a life saturated in chosen sin is another. As the church, we are called to live in obedience and shine the light of Christ into the world. Church discipline is a necessary part of a genuine testimony focused on His Kingdom.