Toxic Tolerance

3.13.23 Devo Image

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”—1 Corinthians 5:1–2 (NKJV)

We’ve seen over the past several days, how the Church of Corinth was an epicenter of spiritual dysfunction. Things had gone so far off the rails that Paul was moved to write to them in order to get them back on track. In doing so, Paul calls out what’s gone wrong and then gives them instructions on how to fix things. This pattern continues here as he turns his attention to something that is, sadly, one of the most destructive problems in any church . . . sexual sin.

First of all, it’s important to understand what we mean by “sexual sin.” After all, unless we can define what is and what isn’t sinful sexual behavior, we won’t appreciate what Paul is doing here or why he’s doing it. According to God’s Word, sexual activity is exclusively permitted within a legally binding marriage relationship between a consenting man and woman (1 Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4). Anything that doesn’t fall within these parameters falls outside of God’s will for human sexuality and is therefore considered “sin” by Him.

Something was happening in Corinth that fell way beyond these boundaries. A man was in a sexual relationship with a woman who was also married to his own father. This obviously goes against God’s will on so many levels. But this was made even worse by the fact that this relationship was common knowledge within the Church! 

Something so clearly wrong was being willfully overlooked by everyone else—everyone except Paul, who was broken by both the sexual sin itself, as well as the nonresponse of everyone else. They were tolerating something that was toxic to the spiritual wellbeing of the Church. Paul understood this. He recognized how pervasive and powerful sexual sin can be, and he dealt with it here head on. How was it to be dealt with? Paul was pretty clear on what had to happen: The offender had to be removed. 

We’ll get into the details of Paul’s prescription tomorrow. But until then, we need to ask ourselves if we’re guilty of doing what the Corinthian Church was doing. Is there a toxic tolerance going on in our own spiritual lives? Is there something we’re not seeing in light of God’s Word, or are we knowingly avoiding the responsibility of dealing with it? Is it something we consider too uncomfortable, too painful, or too inconvenient to address? And if so, what does this say about our commitment to or trust in the Lord? 

These are questions that we need to honestly ask with an open heart. If we don’t, we can run the risk of doing what was being done in Corinth . . . tolerating the toxic!

Pause: What prompted Paul to write what he writes here to the Corinthian Church?

Practice: Consider when or how you’ve ever tolerated something toxic to your spiritual health. What was the right response?

Pray: Lord, I confess I’m in constant need of Your Spirit’s help to see sin in my life and to deal with it in a way that is thorough and in step with Your will. Please continue to give me a heart to obey and follow You in the spiritual strength You provide. Amen. 

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.