Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

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.

Luke 15

Luke 15 has Jesus teaching in parables.  The Pharisees and scribes are upset because “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him”.  They didn’t think Jesus should hang out with that kind of crowd.  So Jesus tells them a parable about the man with a hundred sheep, and the woman who lost one coin.  The lesson from both was that God rejoices over each one.  In the parable of the sheep, He says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”.  God is in the business of saving us.

Jesus goes on to tell one of the most famous parables in all of scripture – the story of the Prodigal Son.  A young son comes to his father and asks for his share of the inheritance.  “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me”.  Legacy is about far more than what we do with our stuff, but in this story, the young man is focused on getting what he believes belongs to him.  In those days a father could either grant the inheritance before or after his death, but it was usually done after he passed away. But in this case, the younger son asked for a special exception, motivated by foolishness and greed.  He wants to take what is his and live wildly so “he squandered his property in reckless living”.

His father knew that this was going to happen.  This son wanted his independence, but he wasn’t ready to be alone and on his own.  Yet the father allowed it to happen.  Sometimes it is only through experiencing the school of hard knocks that we learn things.  After a fairly short time, the money was gone and this kid was feeding pigs.  “When he  came to himself, he said….my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger”.  It’s not going well for him. This isn’t the dream life that he had in mind.

So he decides to go back home and tell his father “I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants”.  He knew that being with his father would be better than anyplace he could be on his own.  His father had never given up hope that he would come to his senses.  He was always watching and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him”.  He didn’t wait for him to arrive – he ran to greet him.  He didn’t scold him for his foolishness – the father welcomed him with open arms.

It becomes a major celebration as “the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate….my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”.  God rejoices when we come back to Him from our life of sin.  He is waiting and watching, not only ready to welcome us back, but ready to throw a party about our return.  God is in the restoration business – He wants to restore us into relationship with Him.  We leave through our sin.  We return through our repentance.  He is there ready to welcome us home!

Hosea 14

Hosea 14 has God’s call for His people to repent and return to Him.  “Return , O Israel, to the Lord your God”.  God is in the restoration business.  He is waiting for us to come back to Him.  It was that way in Hosea’s time, and it is still that way today.  Sin gets in the way of our relationship. It causes us to be separated from God.  He can’t tolerate it because of His nature, but He never stops loving us and waiting for our return.  “For you have stumbled because of your iniquity”.  Scripture is clear we all have a sin problem that causes us to fall.  But there is hope.

God is there with open arms waiting for our return.  “Take words with you and return to the Lord”. In returning to the Lord, Israel must come on God’s terms, not their own.  God has a requirement of how we address the sin problem in our life.  He wants us to return to Him, not with a silent feeling in our heart, but with proper words of repentance and trust in Him.  He isn’t taking us in if we carry the guilt of our sin with us.  We have to deal with that sin and be willing to communicate our repentance and willingness to turn around and run to Him and away from our sin.

It isn’t enough to feel repentance before the Lord. Instead, we must take words with us and tell God we are sinners and repent before Him. We must completely depend on God’s mercy and grace to deal with the sin problem in our life.  “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips”. As we come to God with our words, we must declare His goodness and greatness.  We don’t deserve His grace.  He has chosen to make it available to us because He loves us.  Enough He sent His only Son to the cross to redeem us from our sin.  That’s real love done God’s way.

God promises to restore His people and heal their backsliding ways.  But only after they repent. God tells us how He feels about us, even as sinners. “ I will love them freely”. Remember, these are the same people He has rescued and led and loved for generations, who have turned their backs on Him and gone about their own sinful and idolatrous ways.  But He never gives up.  And Hosea paints a great picture of just how good restoration is when we return to the Lord:  (credit to David Guzik for this list)

  • Growth is restored (He shall grow)
  • Beauty is restored (He shall grow like the lily)
  • Strength is restored (lengthen his roots like Lebanon)
  • Value is restored (His beauty shall be like an olive tree)
  • Delight is restored (His fragrance like Lebanon)
  • Abundance is restored (revived like grain . . . grow like the vine . . . scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon)

Hosea has shown us how faithful God is to love, even when it isn’t warranted.  God is love, and He offers that love freely to you and me!

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