Bible Study with Jairus – 1 Corinthians 5

Seeing With Spiritual Eyes

We are challenged when reading 1 Corinthians 5 because the Corinthians were arrogant (weak in dealing with the wicked and arrogant towards God) and did not remove the wicked from their midst. Paul’s spirit gathered with them there, and only after Paul judged the wicked in the spirit was the wicked removed. Similarly, today the church is arrogant (weak in dealing with sin and arrogant towards God). The church is accommodating to wicked people and wickedness, so the Spirit of God comes to intervene in order to drive the wicked people and wickedness out. The coronavirus pandemic and the difficulties of this year are all for this purpose. All things work together to drive the wicked people and the wickedness out of the church and other sectors of society so the church can be pure and revival can come.

Arrogance and Compromise in the Church

In the study of the last chapter, we noted that Paul mentioned three times that the Corinthians were arrogant (1 Corinthians 4:6, 18, 19). They were arrogant towards each other, shown in how they belittled and despised others (4:6); or thought that Paul would not come to the Corinthian church, so they were arrogant (18-19). But Chapter 5 says that the Corinthians were arrogant and did not remove the wicked who were sexually immoral from the church. How are we to understand this arrogance? Let us look at the example of Eli. When God criticized Eli, he said that Eli had more respect for his son than for God, so God had to discipline him severely. From this story, we can see that to respect people more than we respect God is actually a kind of arrogance. Eli didn’t discipline his son severely — he accommodated his own son in his flesh. The Corinthian church did not drive out the sinners, but also accommodated sin and the flesh in the church, so in the eyes of God and Paul, they were arrogant.

Don’t we have similar examples in modern churches? In some churches in the United States, in order to be “User Friendly,” they dare not criticize sin. The church has gradually compromised with sin and become like Eli and the Corinthian Church in the eyes of God.

Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 4 that some people became arrogant when they thought Paul was not physically going to the Corinthian church. We don’t know where Paul was at the time, but it seems that he could not go to the Corinthian church physically. Chapter 5:3-5 (Recovery Version) says: “For I, on my part, though being absent in the body but present in the spirit, have already judged, as if being present, him who has thus done this, in the name of our Lord Jesus, when you and my spirit have been assembled, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” This has the same meaning as the ESV. The ESV says “For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Paul’s spirit and the Corinthians gather. But the Chinese Union Version translation is: “Although my body is not with you, my heart is with you, as if I am personally with you. I have already judged those who do this. My heart is also there, in the name of our Lord Jesus, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to hand over such a person to Satan and corrupt his flesh so that his soul can be saved in the day of Lord Jesus.” The translation of the Chinese Union Version does not clearly state that “Paul’s spirit assembles with the Corinthians,” but uses a metaphor by saying his heart was with them.

(A note about translation tools: One of my New Testament professors at United Theological Seminary told me that many theologians believe that the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is one of the most accurate translations of the original text, so we were required to do all exegetical tasks with this version. Because some students in the seminary did not understand the original Hebrew and the original Greek, she also recommended using STEPBIBLE.ORG. This website has a word-by-word explanation of the original text, which is very convenient for reference when you understand English but do not understand the original text of the Bible. The website has only the English Standard Version, but she said that the accuracy of the translation of the English Standard Version is comparable to that of the New English Revised Version, so it is still beneficial.)

An Out of Body Experience?

Let’s focus on verse 5 in the ESV. This experience in which Paul says his spirit is present seems to be an experience like “transformation.” We need to study this experience more in order to have a fuller picture of what this chapter is saying. The Bible records the experience of Philip being caught away (Acts 8:30) where Philip’s body was raptured, because people later saw Philip elsewhere. But Paul’s experience here may only be that he was brought to the gathering of the Corinthian church in the spirit. Many believers in the Charismatic Movement have had such experiences, but many Evangelical brothers and sisters are more cautious about this. I personally have had many such experiences in my dreams. It is like my body did not go to these gatherings, but in my dreams, I attended gatherings of different churches in China. In these gatherings, I not only heard what they said, but also had dialogues and conversations with many people. I have had such experiences often. What is even more strange is that I not only participate in these gatherings, but I also eat and drink with the people in them. From the Biblical example and my personal experience, plus the similar testimonies of many people, I am inclined to believe that this was the experience of Paul being brought to the Corinthian church by God in the Spirit.

Paul mentioned in the fourth chapter that because he could not go to the Corinthian church, some people were arrogant. Perhaps he prayed eagerly to God, and the Spirit of God lifted his spirit to participate in the gathering of the Corinthian Church where he judged the evil man. I personally think that this did not happen in a real and physical meeting, but was something that happened in the spirit. If it was something that happened in a real meeting, Paul would not need to write to the Corinthians and ask them to remove the wicked person from among them.

The world we live in is a material world, which is visible, but we also have a spiritual world. It is invisible, but it is real. Often what happens in the physical realm is a reaction to what happens in the spiritual realm. And since our spiritual man often receives something first, our soul and body may not be able to keep up. But the close connection between the spiritual world and the material world cannot be denied. Our communication and the links between the two may be beyond our imagination, especially when it comes to the spiritual world.

The Importance of Connections

We know that even the plants in the forest can transmit information through various methods. Animals can send information to the same species or to enemies through roaring, feces, and so on. If people stay together for a long time, they also pass on information to each other. Some people say that after a couple lives together for a long time, they can transmit hormones to each other. So if a husband and wife sleep in separate rooms, you will find that they become alienated from each other after a long time, which could be the lack of such hormone transmission. In the spiritual world, we may also have a strong connection with the Spirit of God, the spirits of other Christians, and even evil spirits.

I once studied the Deliverance Ministry systematically. In the Deliverance Ministry, there is a concept called the “ungodly soul tie.” The concept is that if a believer has some ungodly tie with others, such as extramarital sex, he or she will have ungodly soul ties with others. Although you may not have contact with them on the outside anymore, (as in these things happened before you were married or saved), you may still have ungodly soul ties with them. Therefore, the ungodly soul tie becomes a channel for the evil spirits of the opponent to attack you. In other words, if you have ever had this kind of sexual contact with others, but you have not cut the ungodly soul tie through the work of exorcising evil spirits and praying for repentance, the evil spirits from the other party are free to attack you. The Chinese saying “the lotus root snaps but the fibers don’t break” can describe this picture very well. Although your relationship is broken, the relationship in your soul hasn’t broken yet. Therefore, in the Deliverance Ministry, the special teaching is to cut the ungodly soul tie to help Christians be released from the bondage of evil spirits. There is a normal soul tie between husband and wife and family. But once one party in this tie is tainted, it will also bring damage to the other parties. For example, although we do not need to bear the sins committed by our ancestors, the sins committed by our ancestors will bring us a family curse. Therefore, the Deliverance Ministry also specifically teaches  breaking your family curse through prayer and repentance for the sins of your ancestors.

In addition, the example of blood is also a good illustration. Our blood circulates in our body, supplying the different parts, even all the way through our limbs. But once a limb is injured, it needs to be disinfected in time so that the wound can heal as soon as possible. If the wound cannot be treated and disinfected in time, the germs will spread to the entire body of the person through the blood. Each of us in the Body of Christ is part of the circulation of the blood of this divine life. If a person commits a sin and does not deal with it, it will bring the sin into the entire blood circulation, thus causing the entire body to be injured or even die. Paul said, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). He also said, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written ’The two will become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him “(1 Corinthians 6:16-17). Paul’s words in these two places have the same meaning. When we have a normal tie with God and an ungodly tie with others, we must cut off our ungodly tie with others. Because we have a physical tie with a person, we become one with that person. We are tied to the Lord, and we are also one spirit with the Lord in the Spirit. It really is true that the depths of the links of our flesh, soul, and spirit are beyond our imagination.

The difficulty is that, for many of us, our spiritual eyes are not opened; we cannot see what is happening in the spiritual world. For example, when we often watch movies full of foul language, the foul language will pollute our souls and tie our souls with the evil spirits behind the foul language, thus giving the enemy a chance to attack us. It even gives evil spirits a chance to enter us. I used to have to watch certain videos because of my work as a translator, but these videos had some foul language, which made me very uncomfortable. One time I prayed to God to cleanse my soul. As a result, I had a dream at night and found that my hands were covered in green stool. And I saw that there was a cesspool in front of me. Some people were immersed in it. They were still very satisfied, but I felt very sick. Then the Holy Spirit said to me, the foul language is like green stool. Once it contaminates your soul, it is difficult to clean off, so it is best to stay away from it. This dream made me deeply disturbed, so I stopped accepting these kinds of film translation jobs. Although I got some income through these jobs and supported my work of serving the Lord, in the end, I looked past money and refused to let the foul language contaminate my soul. Because God opened my spiritual eyes, I saw that the foul language and uncleanliness would bring great obstacles to my prayers and spiritual life. I won! The opening of our spiritual eyes to see what is happening in the spiritual world is very important.

Similarly, did Paul’s gathering with the Corinthians in the spirit really happen in the material world, like the rapture of Philip? It seems that this is not the case, but something that happened in the spirit. If it happened in the spirit, did the Corinthians feel it? I believe that the Corinthians did not see Paul in the flesh or through the naked eye, but it does not mean that this matter did not happen in the spirit. Many things often happen in the spiritual world, but we don’t perceive it. For example, Hebrews 12 says that many saints in glory look down at us from the sky like clouds, but most of us do not see the saints in their glory. This does not mean that it did not happen.

Reassurance for Today

Paul’s gathering with them in the spirit, as well as his spiritual judgment on the evil man and his epistles, are important reasons that led to the final repentance of the Corinthian church. Why was the Corinthian church unable to drive out the evil man? Because they lived in the flesh, and their leaders also lived in the flesh. They exalted Paul or Apollos, but in fact, they were competing for leadership. These leaders may also have had a certain natural relationship with this sinful man. They could not stand up and remove this wicked person from the church. Therefore, the situation caused Paul to judge the evil man after gathering with them in spirit, and he finally helped the Corinthian church drive him out or chastise him for repentance.

Likewise, the Spirit of God is with us in every meeting today. Even if Paul gathering with the Corinthians in the spirit is still controversial, it is still an indisputable fact that the Spirit of God is with us in our meetings today. But can we all feel and see the spirit? Not necessarily. We also need God to open our spiritual eyes to see.

Through countless dreams, God has told me that a world-wide gospel revival is coming. Before this revival, God must cast out the wicked who are in power in various fields, including politics, economics, and religion; and place those who love God in a godly way in such leadership positions. Only in this way can a political, economic, and religious environment conducive to the spread of the gospel be established. But when we look at it, we see many wicked people in power. In most cases, we are as powerless, unable, or even unwilling to drive them out, just like the Corinthians. But the Spirit of God is gathering with us to judge these wicked people. These wicked people will soon be driven out from all fields, making way for those who love God. Such changes will not only happen in the United States’ democratic society, but also in countries such as China and North Korea that live in a totalitarian society. In my visions, I have even seen a great revival in China where China changed into a democratic country.

The reality we see on the outside is often the opposite of the spiritual reality. But we cannot see the spiritual reality with our eyes; we must see it with our spiritual eyes to see the truth. In this way, we can be full of confidence and hope for God’s promise.

Written by Sean Song on 5/13/2021