In fact, all the Scriptures cited above are in the plural. The call to holiness belongs not only to individual believers but also to local congregations. When a church fails to fulfill this calling, it undermines the very good news of salvation that it proclaims and dishonors the name of Jesus Christ.
The church in Corinth learned this the hard way when it allowed scandalous sin to go uncorrected in its membership. Its spiritual apathy about the Lord’s reputation brought an Apostolic rebuke:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor. 5:1–2)
The Corinthian believers undoubtedly thought they were being loving and nonjudgmental in the presence of this scandalous sin among their members. They were proud of their tolerance when they should have been grieved over the outbreak of such sin among them. In the rest of the chapter, Paul corrects their faulty thinking about sin, tolerance, and holiness.
When a church tolerates unrepentant sin within its membership, it demonstrates a lack of love for the one who is sinning, for the unconverted, and for God.
A church is the context in which individual Christians are taught, strengthened, and encouraged to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Brothers and sisters who know and love us help us overcome the inevitable idiosyncrasies that attend every believer, as well as resist the regular temptations that plague us all. They help us live in faith and repentance.