His point was that the sin of one man was hurting all of them. How? We must keep in mind that the church isn’t a man-made organization. If the CEO of a corporation is cheating on his wife, it probably won’t make any difference to the average employee of the corporation. Business goes on as usual. Not so in the church! Paul warned the church at Thessalonika: “Do not quench the Spirit!” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). All of the work that God does through churches and in the lives of individual Christians is accomplished through the Holy Spirit. When the Corinthian church ignored God’s Word, choosing to be what they thought was open-minded, thereby putting themselves at odds with scripture, they were guilty of thinking like the world thinks. God has given us His Word, His handbook for living. It details His expectations for Christians and for churches, and we ignore it at our own peril. By ignoring Christ’s clear instructions to churches, the Corinthian Christians were guilty of quenching the Spirit.
Think about King Saul. The first king of Israel, he started off well. At first, he was humble and obedient, but then something changed: he became impressed with himself, forgetting that he was a . God gave him a specific responsibility and Saul failed to carry it out as ordered. (You can find the details in 1 Samuel, chapter 15). From that point onward, it was downhill for Saul. In the next chapter we read about the result of Saul’s rebellion: “The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul” (16:14). When God’s people step out on their own, whether it is a church operating outside of God’s Word or an individual Christian, the Holy Spirit steps out of the way. And without the Spirit, there is no power for service.
Had the Corinthian church been obedient, they would have been moving forward rather than sitting dead in the water (which is apparently what happened). God used Paul to correct them, and fortunately for their sakes and the Lord’s testimony, they responded. Had the Israelites been obedient in seeking God’s direction before presuming to go up against Ai, they would have been victorious the first time…and 36 men would not have died needlessly. Not only that, He would have informed Joshua at that time about Achan’s sin. God did lead them following their repentance, but the consequences were pretty severe.
What can we take away from this? God expects our obedience. We would do well to remember the warning in Romans 11:22: “Consider the goodness and the severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, IF you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” The tendency today is to talk about God as if He were some sort of celestial grandpa, smiling down benevolently and shrugging off our stubbornness and rebellion (we tend to excuse ourselves, but those are the very words He used with Saul). Yes, God is loving and patient and kind, but at the same time He isn’t playing games. When an individual trusts Christ as Savior and takes on the mantle of Christian, the Lord’s expectations are high. Yes, He longs to bless us and to use us, but He will not hesitate to correct us when we go astray.