Drastic Measures: Protecting the Body from Spiritual Cancer

SurgeryLast week we began a series on dealing with sin in the church. And as long as there are sinful people in the church—which is to say, always, on this side of heaven—the church needs to be equipped to deal with sin according to the instructions the Lord Jesus left us. And we turn to Paul’s directives in 2 Corinthians 2:5–11 to observe five stages of faithful and successful church discipline and restoration.

This week we come to that first stage, and that is the harmful sin that makes discipline necessary. This passage teaches us that all sin is harmful to the body of Christ. Paul says in verse 5: “But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you.”

Grace and Charity

Notice, first, the great pastoral sensitivity that Paul exhibits here. He speaks so vaguely about the offender and his sin that you almost have a hard time understanding what he’s talking about. He’s careful to avoid mentioning the man’s name; he only says, “If any has caused sorrow. . . .” That’s the most generic way to someone. Everyone in the church knew who this man was, and because of that I doubt anyone would have thought Paul uncouth to identify him by name, especially because he’s making an appeal on his behalf to forgive him and welcome him back. But he doesn’t.

And he doesn’t even use the term “sin,” though he’d be perfectly justified in doing so. He doesn’t speak of the nature of the offense; he doesn’t get into gory details. He simply says he’s “caused sorrow.” He says, “If any has caused sorrow.” Everyone knows full well that the man did cause sorrow! But Paul graciously downplays the severity of the issue. He even says, “. . . he has caused sorrow not to me, but . . . to all of you.” Now again, this man did cause Paul sorrow! He was the occasion for Paul’s spiritual children to rebel against their spiritual father (cf. 1 Cor 4:15). Paul left from that painful visit in Corinth, changed his travel plans and immediately went back to Ephesus, and he wrote a letter “out of much affliction and anguish of heart” and “with many tears” (2 Cor 2:4). And yet Paul refuses to take that offense personally.

You have to go read the rest at: http://thecripplegate.com/drastic-measures-protecting-the-body-from-spiritual-cancer/

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