2 Corinthians 2:8-11

In 2 Corinthians 2:8-11 Paul tells the church that even though this member was living deep in sin, he has repented and now they need to love him again. They were slow to discipline his sinful lifestyle, but once they did they are now equally slow in allowing him to return to the body even with the correction and repentance. Paul tells them it is time for love and healing.  They needed to reaffirm their love to him. “So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” Hodge explained “When the offender is made to feel that, while his sin is punished, he himself is loved; and that the end aimed at is not his suffering but his good, he is more likely to be brought to repentance.”

Paul wrote strongly in his first letter about the need to discipline this man, and the Corinthian Christians met the test by doing what Paul said to do.  Now, he puts them to the test again, telling them to show love to the now repentant brother. “For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.” Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to be obedient in all things. Would they find it easier to be obedient when it came to being “tough” than when it came to being loving? Often we are more willing to discipline than to allow someone who repents to be restored to the body.

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we do as individuals, but also as the body of Christ. Even if the church must treat one as an unbeliever, we must remember how we are to treat unbelievers: with love and concern, hoping to win them to Jesus, anxious for repentance. Paul models forgiveness in how he responds to this man. “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Satan is looking to take advantage of our mistakes, as a church and as individuals. Lack of forgiveness is definitely one of the ways Satan can divide the church.

Paul warns the church not to let Satan outwit them around this area of forgiveness. His words have the idea of being cheated by someone out of something that belongs to them.  When we are ignorant of Satan’s strategies, he is able to take things from us that belong to us in Jesus, things like peace, joy, fellowship, a sense of forgiveness, and victory. Satan is out to destroy the church, plain and simple. And division in the body is one of his main ways of doing exactly that. Guzik writes “Satan’s strategy against the man was first of lust, then of hopelessness and despair.  Satan’s strategy against the church was first the toleration of evil, then of undue severity in punishment.  Satan’s strategy against Paul was to simply make him so stressed and upset over the Corinthian Christians that he lost peace and was less effective in ministry!” He’s out to destroy all of us. We must stand together against him.

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