In preparing for Sunday’s sermon, I have been meditating on this verse:
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.
(1Co 5:11 NAS)
It seems so clear to me, but the implications are profound. There are those who go about calling themselves Christians. And yet their lives are marked with sexual immorality, greed, love of money, and hatred.
One word in particular strikes me – a reviler. A reviler is one who is deliberately abusive in their speech. A reviler is one who uses speech to vomit out their anger, to tear down and destroy, and to belittle and condemn. A reviler doesn’t leave physical bruises, but seeks to silence and degrade the image of God in their target.
The church at Corinth was being rebuked by the Apostle for being too proud to remove the corrupt leaven.
So here is my question: How can we refuse to allow divorce from a reviler (or any of the other crimes on this list), when the scripture forbids us from even eating with a so-called brother who is a reviler?
Doesn’t this involve us in hopeless contradiction? If the trumpet blows an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
So, for all who think that if there aren’t bruises there can’t be divorce, answer me this. What are you wanting to happen? A man systematically tears down his wife for years with his words. He doesn’t use fists, for he is skilled at destructive speech. He comes to church every Sunday and professes Christ. According to this text, he is a reviler, who calls himself a brother. So, what does this passage say? “Don’t even eat with this guy. He will corrupt the whole church.”
But then you force his wife and children to live with him. “He didn’t leave any bruises. You aren’t really in danger. You have no grounds for divorce.”
Can you explain this to me? I’m trying to understand, and coming up empty.
Are you willing to excommunicate the victim for obeying the command of the Lord in this passage? Or is it your contention that she should still continue the intimacy of marriage, but perhaps eat separately? I’m having a hard time understanding this position.
Perhaps this is why the church today has become so corrupted. We have been tolerating corrupt leaven. I say it is time we stop, and start obeying the Lord. You can be a reviler, or you can be a Christian. You can’t be both. In fact, according to this text, a reviler who calls himself a brother is far, far worse than an outright unbeliever. A reviler who is allowed to call himself a brother will corrupt the whole church. That isn’t me saying that. That’s God Himself.