Judging Concerning the Brethren
Understanding I Cor. 5:5.mp3
Key Text: I Cor. 5:5
Two weeks ago we went through I Cor. 1-5 and I left one verse largely unexplored until now but first we need to revisit two passages which also deal with discipline but differ in some ways from our situation addressed in I Cor. 5:5…
- First was Gal. 6:1
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
The words “overtaken in a fault” means – caught off guard. Taken by surprise.
As an example we looked at Matt. 26:57-75. In this passage, Peter was confronted with being a follower of Christ at His trial before the High Priest and denied Him 3 times. Peter had not premeditated or thought out a reply to this inquiry, it was a reaction based upon fear. Peter had been the only disciple to follow Jesus to the trial -albeit from a distance. Peter was caught off guard and uttered lies from a sense of self-preservation rather than devotion to Christ. Truly his eyes were on himself or being caught off guard would have had no power to challenge his devotion. Peter just a few hours prior had pledged his allegiance to Christ – promising that he would faithfully follow Christ to prison and even die with him – Lk. 22:23. Peter claimed agape love for Christ and life revealed he only possessed phileo. This is also an example of the 99 and the 1 lost sheep. Peter’s heart was true and loyal, but had limitation of the flesh. As Jesus had pointed out in the garden, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” ~ Matt. 26:41. In the end, Peter felt deep remorse for His temporary betrayal – yet he never left the company of those who associated themselves with Christ. Peter was among the first to reach the tomb of the risen Lord, and followed Christ until His departure. Jesus, as THE Good Shepherd, did not need to seek Peter out physically, but He did have to seek out and rescue his soul. Jesus called Peter out in his weakness. “Peter to you agape Me more than these?” twice He asks him – twice Peter answers in clear and undeniable shame, “Lord, you know I am fond of You.” The more I think about this passage, the more I wonder if the question Jesus asked here had a dual reference.
- To the fishing trade they had returned to when Jesus happened upon them in this event. the disciples upon being confronted with the death of their teacher who they “thought” was their Messiah – returned to the familiar life they had before they knew Him. Even after His resurrection, they did not know where they belonged and questioned just how well they really understood this man with whom they had traveled and learned so much these past 3 years. So, it was there, at the shores of their indecision that Christ met them again.
- Secondly. I believe the other reference may very well have been the other disciples. I say this because Jesus was calling Peter out – pointing out his failure through pride and self-effort to love as he had claimed. For Peter’s claim was not just that his love was great enough to die for Him, for these disciples had just finished debating who would be greatest in the coming Kingdom. Following this debate Jesus corrected their thinking and then addressed Peter directly,
” And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” ~ Luke 22:31-34
Peter, feeling identified as “THE” one among them who was most likely to fail reacted in pride though doubtless he believed the sincerity of his words for indeed he did love Christ. Nevertheless, at its heart Peter’s statement was one of comparison and pride.
So on the seashore Jesus, confronting a battered and beaten down Peter, invited him into a relationship of stewardship – to govern over His precious lambs in His absence. Oh, the reconciliation of God!
2. Second was Matt. 18:17-20. This passage deals with one who has been offended, confronting the offender in order to secure restoration.
QUESTION – HOW does I Cor 5 differ from these two?
Answer – These other examples dealt with unintentional sin and the unrepentant heart of an offender before the church.
I Corinthians 5 has some circumstances which are unique in the New Testament…
- The church knew about the sin but boasted about it rather than confronted.
- The parties involved are not stated to have been part of the church. Only the offender is addressed in this judgment of the church.
But what if you have a blending of Matt. 18 & I Cor. 5. What if the offense of a brother is also an independent sin which the church is obligated to judge as well? What if the sin against God (I Cor. 5) is also towards a brother? What if the offended brother brings an offense to the church as the last step in Matt. 18:15-20 while on the other hand we as a church are obligated to confront and judge the same matter independent of the offense?
Furthermore, what are we to do if the “sinner” disassociates themselves from the church before the mater is judged?
Well in this last case we have determined that the offender by default surrenders the point of the second confrontation – which is confirmation that sin really exists and that it remains unrepented of. This holds true unless there is any doubt to the guilt of actual sin.
We are experiencing this doctrine as an ongoing revelation and it is evidenced in 2 Cor. 2:1-11 that one can repent and return following this disfellowshiping and turning over to satan. Therefore we also can safely conclude that even after turning one over to satan – repentance can happen so the Holy Spirit MUST still be working with them. So, what is bound can be loosed!
Let’s do a word by word examination of I Cor. 5:5…
“deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” ~ 1Cor. 5:5
deliver = paradídōmi; fut. paradṓsō, from pará (G3844), to the side of, over to, and dídōmi (G1325), to give. To deliver over or up to the power of someone.
This is spoken of persons delivered over with evil intent to the power or authority of others. To deliver someone into the hands means into the power of someone (Mat_17:22). With eis, “unto” or “for the purpose of” as in our passage in 1Cor. 5:5. It means to deliver over to Satan FOR the purpose of the unavoidable suffering and distress of the flesh so that the spirit may be saved in the day of judgment.
such a one = Such as, of this kind or sort. It has a qualitative force. This is further evidenced by Paul’s words in verses 9-11.
to Satan = This is one name given to the prince of the devils. Another name is diábolos (G1228), devil, slanderer, false accuser. Applied by the Lord to Peter who was considered as opposing the divine plan of man’s redemption through Christ’s sufferings and death, and thus as joining with Satan (Matt. 16:23; Mark 8:33). See I Tim. 1:18-20
for the destruction = For is better rendered “into” the destruction of the flesh. The destruction here mentioned expresses not annihilation by any means, but the fundamental idea of unavoidable distress and suffering.
of the flesh = is Sarx and strictly and literally interpreted it means “meat” but metonymically it means the body. (metonymically = a word or phrase used in a figure of speech in which an attribute of something is used to stand for the thing itself.)
That = for the purpose or goal of
the spirit may be saved = the pneúma may be sozo
The spirit is of course the essence of the person – WHO THEY ARE as Paul indicated in Rom. 7 – “If I sin it is not longer “I” that do it but the sin that dwells in my flesh”.
Sozo – occurs fifty-four times in the Gospels (not counting Luk_17:33) and it can mean:
- Fourteen relate to deliverance from disease or demon possession
- Twenty instances, the inference is to the rescue of physical life from some impending peril or instant death
- The remaining twenty times, the reference is to spiritual salvation.
The basic meaning of the verb sōzō is to rescue from peril, to protect, keep alive. Sōzō involves the preservation of life, either physical or spiritual. Whenever the word sōzō and its deriv. such as sōtēría (G4991), salvation, sōtēr (G4990), savior, and the adj. sōtērion (G4992), salvation, are used, the context must be considered to determine whether the preservation of physical life (deliverance from physical death, sickness or peril) or spiritual life (deliverance from sin, Satan and hell) is in view.
in the day of the Lord Jesus – e. That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus: What “day” this refers to seems evident considering the tone and purpose of the erring brother being delivered over to satan was for the preservation of their spiritual union with Christ.
The goal of the discipline is clear: the salvation, not the destruction, of his spirit. That this is a genuine brother is clear – in that maintaining a saved status was the stated goal – not the obtaining of salavtion – for all the world is already in the hand and power of satan and therefore cannot be delivered into the power and hand of one they to whom they are already subject. Though this man’s conduct was clearly sinful, and needed severe correction, Paul does not write him off as forever lost – the effective use of church discipline may yet see him to restored rather than distressed union.
Paul does not say the church should take away the sinning man’s salvation. The church does not grant salvation; it certainly cannot take it away. But there are cases, for the good of the sinner, and for the good of the church, and for the preservation of the saved status of a brother when they must be put out of the congregation – outside of its protection and covering and into the hands of the enemy.
Delivering over to satan is patterned after turning Israel over to her enemies in the Old Testament. Let’s examine a few examples…
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years,” ~ Jdg. 6:1
In the teaching I asked the question, “Why did God turn the Israelites here over to the Midianites specifically? Why not anyone else?
The reason is found in verse 10 of the same chapter.
“Also I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ “ ~ Jdg 6:10
Here the Ammorites, as a principle people of Canaan, are being used as a generalization for the Midianites. It is not dissimilar to using the United States as a generalization for a specific group within the nation. So here, God had warned Israel not the revere the gods of Canaan, but they instead actually worshiped them, and in this case specifically they had worshiped the gods of the Midianites.
The details of Israel’s bondage to Midian mirrors the result of a sinning christian being turn over to satan.
“The hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. The oppression of Midian – coming because of the sin of Israel – brought Israel into humiliation. Before they turned back to God they had to be humbled.The Midianites did not continually occupy the land, but only came at the time of harvest to confiscate what the Israelites grew (leave no sustenance for Israel). Israel’s sin made all their hard work profitless. All their produce and livestock was stolen after they worked hard to bring it to fruition. Sin does this. It robs us of what we work hard to gain. After the long season of humiliation, fruitless labor, poverty, and domination by an oppressive power, Israel finally cried out to the Lord. Prayer was their last resort instead of their first resource.” ~ Excepts lifted from David Guzik’s commentary © 2003
Jdg. 13:1 & I Sam 12:9 are just two more of many such examples throughout the Old Testament.
The point being that what God did with the Israelites by turning them over into the hands of their enemies the Midianites, God also does by having the church turn a sinning brother over the satan.
We then addressed some specific questions which might could arise because God chooses to deal with certain sins and certain circumstances differently as we viewed in Gal. 6:1 & Matt. 18:15-20.
Addressing me questisoons:
#1. What about I Cor. 11:28-34?
That God will judge those who do not discern the Lords body in their ignorance without the aid of the church seems evident by I Cor. 11.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.” ~ 1Cor. 11:28-34
Part of this has to do with the sanctity of the communion table. It is a preaching and telling forth of the Lord’s body and blood for redemption and justification and if this testimony is admixed with selfish ambition and a lack of godly love for our brothers – it is a most heinous sin indeed. It touches the very body and blood with which the saint has been sanctified. Perhaps that is why if we fail to judge ourselves in relation to such sacred things – God will. To continue in a chavelier approach to the covenant table comes dangerously close to Heb. 10:29-31
“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” ~ Heb. 10:29-31
If you remember the people Hebrews was addressed to were considering forsaking Christ altogether and that, with knowledge. So if one were to treat the blood of Christ carelessly without malintent but thoughtlessly – God will judge them!
Church judgment MUST be of one accord:
Paul begins this letter to the Corinthians with an admonition to be of one mind and one judgment.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” ~ 1Cor. 1:10-13
If we as a church are a house divided – then we cannot stand. If we cannot stand – then how could any of our judgments stand?
Honoring God given Authority in the Church:
So it is imperative that this entire church agree. If we do not, due to questions we will address them. If afterwards there is still dissension, there MUST be submission to the ruling of the elders. If that is not submitted to – then we MUST follow Paul’s injunction in 2 Thess. 3 & Titus 3.
“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. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” ~ 2Thess. 3:14-15.
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” ~ Titus 3:8-11.
Remember how God allowed divorce due to the hardness of man’s heart? Do you remember if God approved of this decision by Moses or simply allowed it?
Let’s look at the scripture,
“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,’ and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’ ? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” ~ Matt. 19:2-8
So God allowed Moses to decree something which Jesus seemed against.
My point is… that if God delegates authority – He will honor and allow what that authority says – “what we bind – is bound!” It is the responsibility of the rulers (elders) to seek God, know His word and follow His revelation concerning them. However, if your shepherds are wrong over a disputable matter (one not clearly laid out in scripture) then it is the responsibility of the fold to honor that decision and obey.
All discipline in the church is to be carried out with the attitude of restoration, not condemnation.
NOTE: “Church discipline is not a group of ‘pious policemen’ out to catch a criminal. Rather, it is a group
of brokenhearted brothers and sisters seeking to restore and erring member of the family.” (Wiersbe)
Some call this “excommunication” or “disfellowshipping” a person. They are to be put outside the congregation until they repent. In today’s church culture, this rarely brings a sinner to repentance, because they can so easily just go to another church and pretend that nothing happened at their old church. Most often this person plays the victim, and act as if their former church was cruel towards them. Every “new” member in any church should be asked if they are coming from another church and what their reasons are for leaving. If it is due to discipline, the shepherds of that flock owe it to the existing flock and to this “new” person to investigate the circumstances and seek this one’s reconciliation with their former church!