Life-Giving Intolerance


Most of us have been in a public setting and witnessed a blatantly offensive behavior that was seen by many, yet ignored by everyone. I once saw a parent let his anger reign as he launched a loud tirade of disrespect at an official during a youth sports event. Parents who knew him well surrounded him, but no one said a word. He left the gym as if nothing unusual had happened, and greeted people with warm handshakes and a smile. He was at peace with his behavior, which was unchecked by his friends.

  • Think of a time when a concerned friend confronted you and you listened, because you believed he or she cared. What resulted from that confrontation?


5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.


  1. Who was the “you” Paul confronted in this passage (vs. 2)?
  2. What did their silence in response to sin reveal about their motivation, attitude, and offense (vss. 1-2)?
  3. What purpose did Paul’s directive serve, and who was responsible to execute this plan (vss. 3-5)
  4. What was the stated goal for this corrective action (vs. 5)?
  5. How does this inform how we respond to visible sin in our relationships with each other? Is there someone you need to confront in love, based on this passage (vss. 2, 4-5)?


The church is God’s designed vehicle to bring the gospel to the world and to mature us through our mutual dependence on him. Our spiritual life is not lived in isolation, and our choices affect the communal mission of God’s church. Toleration of blatant sin in the family of believers is motivated by pride, which makes independence and self-preservation the highest priority. Both of these things drive us away from God and his church. Confrontation, motivated by a love for God and others, is marked by grief over the loss and division sin creates in the family of believers. It delivers an experienced loss in relationship that can drive the offender back to Jesus and his family.

  • Ask God if there is obvious sin you have excused, and for him to reveal how it is hurting your relationship with him and others.
  • Pray for wisdom, courage, and right motives when inviting others to face destructive sin in their lives.