The Apostle Paul issues a rebuke because a guy is sleeping with his stepmother. He says:
I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. (1 Corinthians 5:3b)
And then we read what Paul says in Colossians 3:5:
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
We might say “What gives Paul the right to judge like this? Is he on a holier-than-thou high horse, superior to everyone?”
Well, first off, he is aware that he, too, is a sinner: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)
Taking being a sinner seriously would surely act as a constraint on Paul being self-righteous. Since Paul knows he is the chief of sinners, he is not quick to judge, but…. he does judge.
How does Paul judge?
Look at this verse from the Amplified version which captures Paul’s heart well: Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. (Galatians 6: 1)
Why does Paul judge?
Paul desires anyone who falls into sin to turn and grow to be more like Jesus. See the result:
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Takeaway for us:
- Before we rebuke we need to examine our own heart
- We rebuke in order to see someone increasingly filled with the love of Christ.