Yesterday’s post was about “Sin in the Church”. Looking in First Corinthians at the Corinthian church was not much different than looking into the world; maybe even worse. The apostle Paul confronted a situation which grieved his heart. These were his spiritual children, and they were in the midst of tolerating the evil in their midst.
Our Scripture reading today is 1 Corinthians 9 through 2 Corinthians 5
In the first letter to Corinth the apostle Paul confronts them; and tells them they need to deal with it, by putting the man out of the church. In our day I have heard of lawsuits for such actions. In my mind and heart the person who would file a lawsuit against the godly actions of a church, particularly if it is done with love and for the correction and return of the believer; that person is an unbeliever, and should be treated as such.
The second letter to Corinth is written on a much more encouraging scale. It appears that the Corinthians have confronted the sin, and the man has indeed repented, and returned to right fellowship with God and now it is time the church forgave him;
“But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (KJV)
He reminds them of the first letter, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears…” They had also disciplined the man, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many” sounds as though the whole congregation, or at least most of them were up to the discipline. That is a good thing.
Paul also tells them to “forgive him” and welcome him back into the fellowship. Of course this is after the man changed his heart and mind repenting of the grievous sin he had committed against God, the Church, and the woman. Forgiveness is awesome. In John 8 the religious hierarchy catch a woman in the act of adultery and present her to Jesus to see what He would do with her – to condemn Him. He tells them, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, that was according to the law for stone throwers; that the witnesses be the first to throw the killing stones. The accusers all went away, probably a feeling a bit foolish, maybe some a bit ashamed; we would hope.
“Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?” Jesus asked the woman. “No man , Lord”, she says. Jesus tells the woman the words every sinner needs to hear, “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” Is there forgiveness in those words? Most certainly. If Jesus, the only one who could stone her, did not condemn her, then He forgave her. Note the admonition, “Go, and sin no more”.
“There is therefore, now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).
The only place of forgiveness, receiving forgiveness, and giving forgiveness is through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.