God’s Intention for a Holy Church

Another common problem in institutional churches is that they often consist of many people who attend just for the show, having little if any accountability to anyone because their relationships are purely social in nature. Thus no one, and especially the pastors, have any idea how they live their lives, and unholy people continually bring a stain on the churches they attend. Outsiders then judge people whom they deem to be Christians as being no different than unbelievers.

This by itself should be proof enough to anyone that the structure of institutional churches is not God’s intention for His holy church. Unholy and hypocritical people are always hiding in large institutional churches, bringing a reproach to Christ. Yet from what we’ve read in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus clearly intended that His church would consist of holy people who were committed members of a self-cleansing body. The world would look at the church and see His pure bride. Today, however, they see today a great harlot, one that is unfaithful to her Husband.

This divinely-intended self-cleansing aspect of the church was evident when Paul addressed a critical situation in the Corinthian church. An accepted member of the body was actually living in an adulterous relationship with his stepmother:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus….I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves (1 Cor. 5:1-5, 9-13).

There was no need to take this particular man through the steps of reconciliation because he was clearly not a true believer. Paul referred to him a as a “so-called brother” and a “wicked man.” Moreover, a few verses later, Paul wrote,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

Clearly, Paul rightly believed that those who are immoral, like the man in the Corinthian church, betray the falseness of their faith. Such people should not be treated as brothers and taken through the four steps to reconciliation. They should be excommunicated, “turned over to Satan,” so that the church does not strengthen their self-deception, and so they have hope of seeing their need of repentance in order to “be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5).

In large churches around the world today, there are sometimes hundreds of people posing as Christians, who by biblical standards are nonbelievers and who should be excommunicated. Scripture clearly shows us that the church has the responsibility to remove those within it who are fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, drunkards and so on. Yet such people, under the banner of “grace,” are today often embraced as ” struggling believers,” and placed into support groups where they can be encouraged by other “believers” with similar problems. This is an affront to the life-transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.