CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
NEGOTIATING THE MINEFIELD TOWARD RESTORATION
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
Jerry A Collins
v What is the purpose of disciplining a believer?
v What kind of response are we hoping it will bring?
v How long should the discipline last?
How nice it would be if we never had to discipline anyone. Instead parents have to discipline their children. Teachers have to discipline students. Coaches have to discipline athletes. Congress has to discipline members. Judges and juries have to discipline convicted criminals. When somebody gets off the right track the purpose of discipline is to correct the wayward so they reroute to the correct path. Discipline is hard. It causes pain and sorrow on the way to possible restoration. There is no guarantee and we risk that the discipline may not bring about the desired result. But inherent in the discipline is the desire to serve the best interest of the offender. Hoping that understanding and a change will result but knowing that it might not we launch the censure taking the risk associated with it. Relationships among believers is not exempt from the need of the corrective discipline must bring. It can be a difficult course to chart as you begin and go through the process. It can be a minefield. Some principles can guide you as you determine the need for censure so that a believer—be it a son, comrade, disciple—can get back on the correct path once again.
RELATIONSHIPS WILL BECOME PAINFUL DUE TO SIN 2:1-2
The relationship with
1. The visit was full of grief vs 1. As an apostle his entire purpose was to bring joy to the people 1:24. But as much as we want that, people hurt us, wound us and this sin often brings pain and grief into our relationships. Because this situation transpired and was left unresolved he decided not to visit them again because it would only turn out to be
another painful visit for everyone.
2. Sadly, sinful relations
turn joyful relationships into sorrowful, painful ones vs
2. Isn’t it ironic that our closest relationships—in this case the
apostle and the converts of
INITIATE LOVING ACTION NECESSARY TO CONFRONT THE SIN TO RESTORE THE RELA 2:3-4
It seems that God dos not want us to stand by and watch the demise of relationships in the body of Christ due to sin. We see this in the response of the apostle Paul. He does this by writing a letter, which is risky in light of the propensity of this group to misunderstand. Twice he alludes to a letter he wrote that is lost but a passionate letter addressing the issues 2:8-9.
First, desire to restore the
relationship vs 3. He looks ahead to a future
visit expecting then it is an occasion of rejoicing together. There is
confidence the situation is taken care of so he and the
Second, confronting the sin is a significant expression of love vs 4. Here we have a glimpse of this apostle’s inner life. At first he regretted causing them sorrow with the confrontation but then he did not because it did lead them to point of repentance 7:8-9. The immediate purpose was to make them sorrowful—to comprehend the reality of the offense—but the underlying purpose was his love, which we often call ‘tough love’ today. Paul loved them enough to cause them sorrow so that they would repent and then share restored joy together again. It is very hard to practice tough love—to cause sorrow over another’s sin with the purpose that they would repent and be restored first to God and then the joy of fellowship. It is the risk of righteousness. They may not repent. Usually the response to any disciplinary action is ‘who are you to judge’ just like to prophets in the OT. Today disciplinary judgment has been replaced by tolerance in the life of believers. Justice has been replaced by tolerance but to tolerate is to eliminate love because love has to do with the best good and if you are destroying yourself from God’s point of view love requires me to tell you, you are wrong—to make a judgment—but tolerance does not allow that.
ONCE REPENTANCE IS ACHIEVED CONFRONTING SIN IS OVER AND RESTORATION IS MANDATORY
Let’s say you initiate a process of censure and it works! What does that process and outcome look like?
1. Something was done about the problem—disciplinary action was taken 2:5-6. The fact is that we cannot sin without hurting others. The consequences of one’s sin against God compound vs 5. Whoever this man was, he caused Paul sorrow and to some degree to all of the believers in Corinth who got caught up in the situation taking sides, drawing conclusions, making accusations. Finally some action was taken vs 6. The word ‘punishment’ is better ‘censure’ or ‘reprimand or rebuke’ had happened. This refers either to it’s severity or its duration or both. A majority had stepped in to confront the entire situation and person/s. The majority could have been the believers or those who remained on Paul’s side. The point, though, is that disciplinary action had taken place. It had been sufficient enough to confront the sin. So the goal of the whole process is to pursue repentance.
2. The guilty person has repented and is feeling sorrow for his sin 2:7-8. Now that the sin has been confronted and dealt with by all parties, restoration is mandatory. Once repenting do not keep on with the reprimand. Now different action is required vs 7-8. It should be forgiveness and encouragement now. If you keep the censure in place it might lead the one repenting to abandon the faith altogether. It is not punishment we are after but repentance. The point is to restore and bring back into fellowship. There are two sides to love—one to cause sorrow leading to repentance; the other to forgive and restore once there is repentance.
3. Confronting sin is a test of our obedience 2:9-10. This is a test not for the sinner but for those needing to do something about the sinning believer. The test is what are we going to do? Discipline is not to be done out of spite or revenge but for the sinner as an act of love. So look at your situation as a test from God—are you going to be obedient in all things? God tests our obedience. Would they also stay loyal to Paul who gave them these directives? To show solidarity as one they could forgive the offender who had wronged them by wronging Paul vs 10. So all relationships could be restored again—the whole purpose!
4. Discipline must stop when sin is repented of or Satan can use it to promote bitterness and drive wedge between believers 2:11. Satan’s work would succeed if (1) the offender refused to repent due to inflicted discipline, (2) the offender were to be lost to the church overwhelmed by excessive sorrow, (3) believers refused to forgive and encourage offender. Satan knows what can and does divide believers. This is his plan and in the meanwhile God’s purpose of repentance and restoration not achieved.
1. We cannot avoid the responsibility of disciplining one another.
2. It is corrective action not punishment. Confronting sin is love.
3. Do not be tempted by tolerance. God is watching what you will do about a believer’s willful sin. Manage the sin the way God expect