Paul's Charge Concerning the Offender: Part 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on 2 Corinthians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Never think that Satan can’t outwit you, because he most certainly can. You are not strong enough or smart enough to defeat Satan. I like that saying “your arms are not long enough to box with God.” Well, Satan’s arms are also too short. When Satan attacks, we need to pray and place ourselves behind the Word of God—and allow God to fight for us. He is the heavy-weight champion of the universe.

This passage identifies another one of Satan’s evil schemes. In their zeal to purge the church from sin, the Corinthians were punishing the offender without keeping in mind the purpose of discipline: to inspire repentance and promote reconciliation to God. Under Satan’s influence, the offender’s sorrow could easily be turned into resentment (see 2:7) instead of repentance (see Paul’s comparison of godly sorrow with worldly sorrow in 7:10{25]). Paul pleaded with the Corinthians to guard against such a tragic outcome. He wanted them to restore the offender to the fellowship so that the incident would not become an occasion for Satan to drive a wedge between the church and Paul. The devil wants to produce sin and animosity that will destroy the church unity. He uses every possible approach to accomplish this—from legalism, to libertinism, to intolerance to excessive tolerance (see11:13-14; Eph. 4:14; 6:11-12; 1 Pet. 5:8{26]). Satan targets the believer’s mind. This was one of Satan’s schemes (see 11:13-14){27] which Paul had worked so strenuously to thwart.

When there is an unforgiving spirit in the congregation because sin has not been dealt with in a biblical manner it gives Satan a “beachhead” from which he can operate in the congregation. Satan is always ready to step into a situation such as this with his cunning devices. In the first case, he will wreck the testimony of the assembly through tolerated sin, and in the second, he will overwhelm the repentant sinner with too much sorrow, if the assembly does not restore him. If Satan can’t destroy by immorality, he will try by the immeasurable sorrow following repentance. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so that we will confess it and turn to Christ for cleansing, but Satan will accuse us of sin so that we will despair and give up. When an offending brother or sister is disciplined according to the Bible, and repents, then the church family must forgive and restore the member, and the matter must be forgotten and never brought up again.

{1] Forgive, here means “to give freely or graciously as a favor.”
{2] Reaffirm, here means “to ratify.”
{3] (2 Cor. 2:1-4) “But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.” Paul decided to wait for their repentance and for them to amend the situation before he came to them again.
{4] (2 Cor. 7:8-10) “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” The difference between repentance, and sorrow and regret, is seen when we bear in mind that it means the change of mind and heart wrought by godly sorrow for sin. The state implied by repentance always leads to a change of life.
{5] (2 Cor. 2:12-13) “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.” A door of opportunity had opened to the apostle to go into Macedonia and preach the Gospel. But he was bothered by not finding Titus in Troas and by thoughts of the Corinthians and the opposition from certain men he had experienced on his last visit.
{6] (2 Cor. 7:6-7) “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.” The very coming of Titus was some comfort to him. It was a matter of joy to see him, whom he long desired and expected to meet with. The very coming of Titus and his company, who was dear to him as his own son in the common faith (Tit. 1:4 ), was a great comfort to the apostle in his travels and troubles. But, the good news which Titus brought concerning the Corinthians was a matter of even greater consolation.
{7](1 Corinthians 6:7) “Now, therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?”
{8] (2 Cor. 1:19-20){8] For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
{9](Phil. 2:3) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
{10] (James 3:4) Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.
{11] (2 Thess. 3:6, 14) But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.
{12](2 Cor. 13:2) I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare--
{13] (James 4:12) There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
{14] (Matt. 18:34-35) And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
{15] (2 Cor. 1:24) Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
{16] (Rom. 1:5) Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,
{17] (2 Cor. 10:4-6) For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
{18] (1 Thess. 4:2) for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
{19] (2 Cor. 10:8) For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—
{20](Rom. 3:24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
{21] (Eph. 2:5, 8) even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
{22] (Col. 3:13) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
{23] (2 Cor. 2:17) For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
{24] (2 Cor. 11:4) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
{25] (2 Cor. 7:10) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
{26] (1 Pet. 5:8) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
{27] (2 Cor. 11:13-14) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

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