In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul challenged the church to deal appropriately and redemptively with a member involved in sexual sin. Paul told them to exclude the sinning person from the fellowship of the church: 1) So that he would have to face the consequences of his sin; 2) So that he might see his error and repent; 3) So that others would not be tempted toward the same sin and sinfulness.
Now, a few months later, Paul tells the Corinthian church and her leaders that it's time to forgive the man and welcome him back into the fellowship of believers and to comfort, encourage, and assure him of their love for him and of Christ's love for him. Here are some important lessons from this story in Paul's correspondence with the Corinthians: 1) Church discipline is primarily redemptive, not punitive; 2) There is a time to discipline and a time to forgive, comfort, and encourage; 3) Judgment and discipline without forgiveness and redemption is an Evil Scheme Satan uses to trap us!
Know when it's time to forgive! Unforgiveness will eventually lead us into Satan's trap. When we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge our sin and error, we fall into Satan's trap and isolate ourselves from God and the fellowship of believers. When we judge others' sins and error and neglect to forgive and restore relationship and fellowship, we fall victim to Satan's Evil Scheme of bringing division, condemnation, and self-righteous pride into the church.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. (Galatians 6:1 NLT)
Father, Please help us to be committed to righteous living and equally committed to a redemptive approach to those who sin. May we know when and how to forgive so we are not outsmarted by Satan's Evil Schemes. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
Satan's Evil Schemes
Reading: 2 Corinthians 2; Psalm 4
7 Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won't be able to recover. 8 Now show him that you still love him. 9 I wrote to you as I did to find out how far you would go in obeying me. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:7-11 NLT)
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