In my previous letter I said, “Don’t mix with the immoral.” I didn’t mean, of course, that you were to have no contact at all with the immoral of this world, nor with any cheats or thieves or idolaters—for that would mean going out of the world altogether! But in this letter I tell you not to associate with any professing Christian who is known to be an impure man or a swindler, an idolater, a man with a foul tongue, a drunkard or a thief. My instruction is: “Don’t even eat with such a man.” Those outside the church it is not my business to judge. but surely it is your business to judge those who are inside the church—God alone can judge those who are outside. It is your plain duty to ‘put away from yourselves that wicked person’.
I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with criminals, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
I did not mean the people of the world [people who are not Christians] - some of them use sex the wrong way; or always want more things; or steal; or worship idols. To keep away from them altogether would mean you would have to go out of the world.
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