Know Pain Know Gain (2Corinthians 2)

AUDIO: 

MOTIVATE

  • I enjoy taking a walk with my children and seeing their freedom to wander: Chartridge, Kinder, wherever.
  • In city (DC/Balt), I don’t let them have freedom to wander, but instead hold their hand firm. There’s too many distractions: crowds, traffic, danger. At some points, I need to push or pull their hand to guide them in a direction.
  • Paul writes NT Letters – while PHP/EPH are somewhat walks in the park, 1&2Cor is hand holding in the city. At times he needs to push/pull in order to coach or correct certain circumstances.

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EXAMINE           2Corinthians 2; 5:11-21; 7:10-12    How Pain of Discipline Gains Restoration

The Corinthians were permissive and proud of sexuality. The city of Corinth was a secular and seductuous society. The city was filled with idolatry and most notably with ~1000 cult temples – one specifically was the Temple of Aphrodite (Greek goddess of love). A sinful lifestyle is expected outside the church; they do not know any better. They act lost because they are lost. But the church must reflect a consistent lifestyle of Jesus Christ, and when it doesn’t must confront sin immediately.

Unfortunately, Christians judge outsiders and give a pass to insiders, when instead they’re called love outsiders and judge insiders. Jesus did this perfectly – confronting religious hypocrites while offering compassion to broken sinners. Today’s message will review the aim of biblical church discipline.

The aim of discipline is the church’s reputation (1Corinthians 5:1-13).

Paul is writing letters to churches, here Corinth. The NT letters imply a practice of Christians not just believing but also belonging to one another in membership. To dismiss church membership is to devalue the early church and the NT.

  • Asking, “Where in Bible does it command church membership?” is like asking, “Where in a food recipe does it command you to go to the kitchen?” or “Where in drivers-ed manual does it say you must be human?”
  • Yet, how many today believe and do not belong to a church?
  • Biblical reasons for not becoming a member at a local gospel believing church.
    • Zero! Ok, maybe… 2Cor 5:8 “absent from the body and at home with the Lord.”

In Corinthians, Paul addressed the issue of sexual immorality between a man and step-mother. The report (1Cor 5:1) [heard everywhere, completely or widely known; “the talk of the town”]. The relationship was blatant, ongoing [“is among you”, “has (not had) his father’s wife”] and unrepentant. A man was having sexual relations with his “father’s wife” (not biological, step-mother). To Paul – and God – sexual relationships outside of marriage is sinful. This was a form of incest which was both illegal in Jewish (Leviticus 18:8, 20:11; Deut 22:30, 27:20) and Roman law. Further, it was an unthinkable act even among secular society, which is noteworthy even in debauched city of Corinth.

Paul’s command for the church then, was to remove the man from identifying with the church, and instead identify him with Satan (1Cor 5:2-5). The intent was a public proclamation that the man was no longer identified as a member and belonging to Christ based on his unrepentant actions.

So, church discipline has these aims

  • Reveal the standard (1Cor 5:1-2). The standard for the church is Christ. While we all fall short, the standard doesn’t change and we must continuously repent from sin. If we are not walking in repentance then we are out of step in our relationship with Jesus. So, if a person has a sin that is uncommon (not typical), unhampered (not internal struggle, but growing and public impact), and is unrepentant, then such a person’s profession of faith eventually becomes unbelievable and not affirmable.[1] The life behind an unrepentant sinner becomes too contradictory to the standard of Christ that they must be rebuked and reproved. “Discipline is necessary whenever a disciple departs from the way of Christ by sinning. It’s necessary whenever a gap opens up between a Christian’s profession and life, and the so-called representative of Jesus fails to represent Jesus.”[2]
    • It’s like a referee blowing a whistle for all to know the foul in a sporting game.
  • Rebuke the sin (1Cor 5:2-3; 6-14). Rebuking the sin means going beyond revealing the standard but going through the process of informal and formal discipline. Discipline should involve as few individuals as possible (Matthew 18 – Private/Partners/Public). When formal discipline becomes necessary, the church spiritual leaders should initiate and lead the process (Galatians 6:1). The length of process depends on how long it takes to establish characteristic unrepentance. And leaders should involve and instruct the congregation.[3]
    • At SPBC, this would likely take place at either a worship service with the members or a specific members meeting.
  • Remove the sinner (1Cor 5:4-13). Discipline is about identity. In a world that is deeply confused about who a Christian is and what a church does, it must speak with a clear voice on sin and sinners. Removing a sinner is not from church attendance but removing a church’s affirmation of the member’s salvation. Not removing the sinner or allowing uncommon and unrepentant sin to grow in the church impacts the entire church (2Cor 2:5). In other words, a person’s testimony with lips is not matching their lifestyle, so they are now viewed as an unbeliever. Unbelievers are still welcome to attend church, but consequences commence from disciplined membership.
    • At SPBC, unbelievers are not allowed to take Communion, and also along with non-members are not allowed to represent the church in formal ministry, or leadership and teaching areas.
    • For the church, “one’s relationship with the disciplined individual should markedly change. Interactions should not be characterized by casualness but by deliberate conversations about repentance.”[4]
    • Again, this would likely take place at either a worship service with the members or a specific members meeting.
  • Reflect the witness of Christ (1Cor 5:5; 2Cor 2:1-4). The witness of Christ of truth in love to confront sin and yet be compassionate for sinners is priority. Removing a person from membership would be intensive in time through both informal and formal processes, so that inestimable grace and love for the person is shown until no longer able to affirm the person’s Christian witness.
    • Paul’s confrontation of Corinthians was ”out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love I have for you” (2Cor 2:4)
    • Based on 2Corinthians 2, the church eventually followed the instruction of church discipline and apparently in time the man did repent; which the church offered forgiveness and welcomed him back into the church family. So, today’s message is about how knowing the pain of discipline gains restoration.

The pain of discipline can gain the offender’s repentance (2Cor 2:2, 6-8)

Paul didn’t enjoy the pain of rebuking a sinner and a church, but he knew it was for their good. His aim was for offender’s repentance. Only the offender can bring joy through genuine repentance: “who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?”

  • Psalm 32 / 51 – confession results in joy and salvation
  • Proverbs 28:13 – concealing sin will not prosper but confession brings mercy
  • Luke 15:7 “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”
  • James 5:16 – confession results in healing
  • 7 A of Confession - Ken Sande - Peacemaker1John 1:9 – confession results in cleansing forgiveness
  • Ken Sande, Peacemaker – 7 A’s of Confession

 

  • The Voyage of Dawntreader
    In a fictional story, Eustace was a boy who turned into a dragon. Later he meets Aslan the Lion – the only one who can help him return to a boy. Aslan commands Eustace to undress, and so he begins to peel his skin. But dragons have layers upon layers of skin like snakes. Eustace realizes he cannot fulfill the command and must let Aslan accomplish the fulfillment of the command. He recites:
    “The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it issuch fun to see it coming away.”
    “I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
    “Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . .  After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me . . . in new clothes.”

The aim of God’s discipline is not rejection or punishment, but always repentance and pardon.

Yet, an apology does not automatically result in amends. Genuine repentance produces fruit (cf. Mat 3:8; Acts 26:20). Repentance > regret; it’s more than words but actions (cf 2Cor 7:10). Therefore, the actions and fruit of repentance create the environment for restoration to occur. While forgiveness from God may be immediate, restoration with others takes time through restitution (cf. Luke 19:8 Zacchaeus). God forgives us positionally, but our sanctification that lives out that grace takes dynamic practice. We often equate forgiveness with restoration, but each are unique.

  • Forgiveness is the declaration of sin being atoned and judgment is averted.

Four promises of forgiveness[5]

  • I will not dwell on incident.
  • I will not use incident as a dig.
  • I will not dialogue with others about this incident.
  • I will not allow this incident divide us from seeking restoration.
  • Restoration is the process of repairing the relationship to its former or better status; it’s the fruit of forgiveness. In its fullness, repentance and restoration are not simply words or even surface actions, but are internal changes of the heart. Godly repentance changes our desires and affections through the power of the Holy Spirit and the word of God (cf Rom 8:4-11; Col 3:1-4; etc.).
  • Restoration should occur “when the sinner repents and the church is convinced the repentance is real because members see fruit in the individual’s life… vouching for their profession of faith.”[6]
  • May we walk in humility and accountability at SPBC.

 

The pain of discipline gains victory over Satan (2Cor 2:11)

Whereas previously the Corinthians were divided over how to confront this conflict, now they have unity. Church discipline enabled Corinth to extend forgiveness and experience God’s comfort (2Cor 2:7), and to reaffirm love between each other (2Cor 2:8). While Paul was not present, he affirmed his participation with the Corinthians in forgiveness and love for the repentant sinner. Supremely, Paul celebrates that because of the church’s obedience, they were not outwitted (no gain) by Satan but instead have victory.

Satan is not passive but present and actively engaged in battle against your soul. He has designs for your death and hates you. In fact, I found a letter written by Satan about SPBC, and it reads as follows:

A LETTER FROM SATAN ABOUT SEVERNA PARK
Dear Fallen Angels,

I am the Prince of Hell’s Headquarters and am not impressed with your work at Severna Park Baptist Church. Of course, there are a few dark spots but that is hardly to your credit. By and large, you have failed miserably at squashing the work of God’s Holy Spirit. It is positively revolting to see over a hundred potential slaves of ours adoring our enemy Jesus Christ. This has got to stop or you will be transferred to some other location where there is less opposition.

Evidently you need to relearn the most important lesson we teach here at Hell’s Headquarters: that extended and concentrated prayer must be undermined at all costs. Every one of the Devil’s angels cuts his fallen teeth on the basic manual of prayer obstruction. Have you forgotten such elementary teaching?

Who are these Praying Deacons? I like them better when they’re Demon Deacons than Praying Deacons. These dreaded men meet every month to pray for the church body and then one from the group of those bumbling men prays every week. They plead with our Enemy to work His Spirit while that preposterous pastor Dave preaches from that pathetic Bible. You would tremble if you knew how many of my flaming darts have been extinguished by the prayers of these opponents. I shudder to think what would become of us and our thieving warriors if additional people started to join them in prayer. If deacons, ministry team leaders, couples, singles and entire families start to increase their praying, it will cause unimaginable havoc.

Evangelism Training with Bible Groups has got to cease. At all costs do not allow people to get serious about sharing faith. For the most part, this has been one of your greater schemes accomplished as their training is just getting started and not everyone has been attending. Keep making their members think the training is a waste of time or make themselves too busy to even attend. Keep up the malicious lies and by no means allow this work to continue.

Lastly, what is all this talk about growing godly generations” ? Don’t you know the best way to limit a godly legacy is to decrease the volunteers serving in a church nursery, children and youth ministry. Destroy that cumbersome Keith Benning. Attack all of these ministries. What we have found to work in other churches is an indirect approach. Simply, allow apathy to take its course. Allow people to think that serving is tiresome and futile. Make them think young people do not really want to grow spiritually. Cause those with jobs to become overextended and disrupt family life. Allow the retired to bask in the comforts of idleness. We are slowly beginning to lose ground in these areas and cannot afford for these youngsters to catch the gospel message. The cause of Hell rests on the failure of next generation ministries.

You must double and triple your efforts. This is no time to relax. The entire country of America is nearing a fall from Christian ways. We must advance even in suburbia of Severna Park. It is our duty.

Your Savage from Hell’s Headquarters, Satan

 

  • What gives us victory over Satan?
  • Faith in Jesus as the Son of God (cf. 1John 5:5).
  • Faithfully living out the commands of Jesus (John 8:31-47; Eph 6:10-20). No middle ground!
  • Fearlessly giving testimony to the gospel of Jesus (Revelation 12:11)

 

APPLY/THINK

There once was an old man who lived in a rice field village. [7]  The man’s name was Mr. Hamaguchi, and his family owned the rice fields and was lord of the village for many generations. He lived on top of the hill with the fields, while the villagers lived in the valley, down by the sea.

   One hot summer evening, Mr. Hamaguchi sat on his front porch with his grandson, overlooking the village below and admiring the sea. Mr. Hamaguchi smiled because it was harvest time and the people just had a long day of work and the evening was a time of celebration with music and dancing, and bright lantern lights.

   As Mr. Hamaguchi continued scanning the scenery, his smile turned into distress as he saw the sea forming into a wave that stretched as far as any eye could look. And the wave was speeding to the village below.

Mr. Hamaguchi had never seen this kind of wave before, but he had heard tales about such waves from his father and grandfather. So, he quickly called his grandson and asked him to get fire from the torches. The boy paused and was puzzled by his grandfather’s request. Mr. Hamaguchi replied sternly, “Quick son, get the fire. There is no time to waste!” Mr. Hamaguchi took the torches and set fire to the rice fields. The flames burst orange and yellow and flashed through the fields. The grandson asked again, “Grandfather, stop! What’s wrong? Why would you burn the fields – our food and work? Please stop or there will be nothing left.”
   Just then, a bell sounded in the village and the people began to race up the terraced hill. Everyone came – men and women, young and old, and they were carrying buckets of water to save the fields on fire. And just as they reached the burning fields, a terrible tsunami wave struck the village below. It sounded like roars of thunder or hoof-beats of 10K horses. It destroyed everything in its path.
   The villages looked in shock at the ruins of their village, realizing the devastation of their houses could have included their families. Looking at the burnt fields they sobbed, realizing the village was destroyed from bottom to top.

   Mr. Hamaguchi’s grandson still did not understand all that had happened. “Why Grandfather? Why did you burn down our precious fields? Everything is lost.” Old Mr. Hamaguchi embraced his grandson and spoke softly, “Everything is not lost. Our people are more precious than houses or fields.” And with that, Mr. Hamaguchi invited the entire village to stay in his house and land until the village could be rebuilt. Mr. Hamaguchi lived many more years, but when he died the people built a statue in memory of Mr. Hamaguchi. The inscription read: “To sacrifice is to love.”

  • God sacrificed what was precious to him so that we could be spared.
  • The church must honor that sacrifice with devotion and discipline, or we will be devastated by Satan’s designs.
  • What are you afraid to lose that will eventually cause your devastation? It’s time to set God’s fire.
  • Sacrifice and discipline will not be understood by the immature, but it’s essential for us to endure in growing godly generations.
    • What sacrifices need to be made in your priorities?
    • What discipline needs to take place – negative in stopping and positive in starting?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[1] Jonathan Leeman, Church Discipline: How The Church Protects The Name of Jesus, p.52.

[2] Leeman, p.48.

[3] Leeman, pp.68, ff.

[4] Leeman, p.76.

[5] See Ken Sande, Peacemaking For Families, p.85.

[6] Leeman, p.81.

[7] The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book by Bob Hartman & Krisztina Kallai Nagy

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