The Problem With Immoral Church Members; Page 4 of 11 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
Note, Church-censures are Christ’s ordinances, and should be dispensed in his name. It was to be done also when they were gathered together, in full assembly. The more public, the more solemn, and the more solemn, the more likely to have a good effect on the offender. Note, Church-censures on notorious and incorrigible sinners should be passed with great solemnity. Those who sin in this manner are to be rebuked before all—“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim 5:20; KJV). The act of excommunication for misdeeds, when administered according to the will of the Lord, is not merely man's decision, but will be executed by the power of the Lord.
The phrase “With the power”, is to be connected with the following verse. “I have determined what ought to be done. The sentence which I have passed is this: You are to be assembled in the name and authority of Christ. I shall be virtually present. And you are to deliver such a one to Satan, by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is, it is to be done by you; and the miraculous power which will be revealed in this case will proceed from the Lord Jesus. The word power (δυναμει) is used commonly in the New Testament to denote some miraculous and extraordinary power; and here evidently means that the Lord Jesus would put forth such a power by inflicting pain, and for the preservation of the purity of his church.
5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
To deliver such an one unto Satan
The statement “to deliver such an one unto Satan” does not mean to deprive him of salvation, since it is not the church that grants salvation, to begin with. When a Christian is in fellowship with the Lord, and the local church, he enjoys a special protection from Satan. But when he is out of fellowship and excommunicated from the local CHURCH, he is “fair game” for the enemy. God could permit Satan to attack the offender’s body so that the sinning believer would repent and return to the Lord.
There is no evidence that delivering to Satan was any form of excommunication known either among the Jews or the Christians. Lightfoot, Selden, and Schoettgen, who have searched all the Jewish records, have found nothing like this: it was a species of punishment administered in extraordinary cases, in which the body and the mind of a habitual transgressor were delivered by the authority of God into the power of Satan, to be tortured with diseases and fear as a warning to all; but while the body and mind were tormented, the immortal spirit was under the influence of the Divine mercy; and the affliction, in all probability, was permitted only for a season; though sometimes it led to death, as the destruction of the flesh seems to imply. But the soul found mercy at the hand of God; because such an extraordinary interference of God's power and justice, and of Satan's influence, could not fail to bring the person to a state of the deepest humiliation and repentance; and thus, while the flesh was destroyed, the spirit was saved to the glory of the Lord Jesus. No such power as this remains in the Church of God today; no one should presume to have such power; those who make such pretense are as wicked as they are vain. It was the same power by which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind. Apostles alone were entrusted with it.
It seems clear that in the day of the apostle Paul these men who had been especially appointed by God during the transition period did have such gifts of apostolic authority, to deliver the offender to Satan—“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim 1:20;KJV). There is no difficulty in supposing him to be the Hymenæus of 2 Ti 2:17—“And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus.” Though "delivered over to Satan" the lord of all outside the Church—“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18; KJV); and the executor of wrath, when wisely allowed by God, on the disobedient—“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5; KJV). He was probably restored to the Church, and again caused trouble. Paul, as an
apostle, though he was far away at Rome pronounced the sentence to be executed at Ephesus, involving, probably, the excommunication of the offenders (Mt 18:17, 18). The sentence operated not only spiritually, but also physically; sickness or some such visitation of God, falling on the person excommunicated, in order to bring him to repentance and salvation. Here Alexander is probably "the coppersmith" who did Paul "much evil" when the latter visited Ephesus—he organized the Jews against Paul, at the riot in Ephesus—“And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people” (Acts 19:33; KJV). The "delivering him to Satan" was probably the consequence of his withstanding the apostle—“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim 4:14-15; KJV); as the same sentence was passed on Hymenæus for saying that the resurrection is past already—“Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:18; KJV).
I have often said that the number-one desire of Satan is to damn every individual he possibly can; but if that individual is born again, then the adversary will do all he can to destroy the testimony of that Child of God. He does this by tempting the believer to turn aside from the right ways of the Lord, and embrace the things of the flesh. The devil is a master craftsman in the art of laying snares for believers.
• Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:7; KJV).
• And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Tim 2:26; KJV).
I Just Like To Kill People
On March 31, 1998, Daniel Remeta was executed in the Florida electric chair for killing five people in 1985. In an interview not long before his death, Remeta exclaimed, “I just like to kill people.” That chilling declaration is reminiscent of another calculated killer who “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Stated briefly, Satan just likes to kill; and if it was not for the special protection the Lord provides every believer, Satan would surely kill all of us.
for the destruction of the flesh,
The Corinthian assembly was to deliver the person guilty of fornication to Satan, “FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH.” The Greek word used here is olethros, which means “ruin”—not destruction or total annihilation. The word means the ruin of well-being, ruin insofar as the purpose of what is referred to is concerned. Such ruin and destruction is definitely the work of Satan, but in a case such as that under discussion here, God permits it as an act of destruction upon the unfaithful believer.
There are some who teach that this verse has to do with the destruction of the soul and spirit, and therefore such a person would be lost forever: but it is very clear that the destruction referred to here has nothing to do with eternal life or with the spiritual part of the believer.
that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus;
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6; KJV). Such a person as the young man described here, who is guilty of taking his father’s wife, can be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (the body), but the soul and spirit is not affected; and in the resurrection such a person will have a glorified body, as will all believers. Satan is never allowed to touch the soul of a born again, blood-washed believer.
“… The day of the Lord Jesus” is the period immediately after the Rapture of the Church. Each believer will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive a reward for the things done in the body: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12; KJV). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10; KJV).
“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 5:16; KJV).