Blessings Through Forgiveness
2 Corinthians 2
We know our Churches face the challenges of this world just to survive and that is bad enough, but when there is internal turmoil and divisiveness inside the Church body, then that is even worse.
Satan will try His best to make the power of the Church go away in this world and he has in many places already.
In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul had addressed many issues that had divided the Church in Corinth.
By ignoring blatant sin among its members, the Corinthian church was further contributing to division and weakness in the members of this Church.
The Apostle Paul had given practical instructions from the Word of God on for how to deal with immorality in the church.
Today we are reading why Paul could not return to this Church at this time and why he wrote the second epistle to this Church at Corinth.
The biggest reason the Church faces so many challenges is because even though we are a saved people, we are still human and we still live in these sinful bodies of flesh!
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
The Apostle Paul understood these things better than most other Church leaders.
One lesson we should learn is, that our Pastor should not be the cause of pain in Church discipline, this is the responsibility of the church body.
It is the “Body of Christ”, the Church members that should bear the pain of Church discipline, guided by the Pastor and sticking to the Word of God in every step!
*****2Co 2:1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2Co 2:2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
We can actually see the love that Paul had for this church.
We need to clearly understand the purpose of Church discipline!
The purpose of Church discipline is:
(1) To bring glory to God and enhance the testimony of the “body of Christ”.
(2) To restore, heal, and build up sinning believers.
(3) To show the need for sound doctrine.
(4) To win a soul to Christ, if the sinning person is only a professing Christian.
(5) To silence false teachers and their influence in the church.
(6) To set an example for the rest of the body of Christ and promote godly fear.
(7) To protect the church against the destructive consequences that occur when churches fail to carry out church discipline.
Until the Church in Corinth had done these things it was not so important that Paul made another appearance to this Church.
It is never so important for a Pastor to pour his heart out to people who reject the Word of God, his time is better spent on those with receptive ears and open hearts!
Paul was committed to the purity of the Church and he would have been even more severe if he had come and none of his directions had been followed.
Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
These things had brought much ridicule to the Apostle Paul and it would be best if if he was not attacked again.
Our Pastors do not deserve to be attacked for preaching the whole council of God!
AND, The “Body of Christ” must stand up and insist on the truth of God coming from the pulpits.
*****2Co 2:3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
Paul’s reason for writing was that if those in sin would repent, then there could be joy to all when he returned instead of more sadness on the part of Paul himself.
We can be sure that Paul was following the lead of the Holy Spirit in this case and had not done this thing on his own.
It is also best that the Church put the Lord first, for He is the foundation of the Church and put an end to all controversy.
We would be foolish to believe that everyone in the Church is saved but we cannot allow our Pastor to be the center of any controversy by undisciplined members!
*****2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
Paul had shed many tears over the things that were going on in this Church.
SO, Paul was writing this time to show his love for them all.
The purpose of the Pastor is to reach out to this lost world, lead the lost to Christ and then disciple them to give them strength!
This must be the goal for every Pastor!
This must be the exact same purpose for all the “Body of Christ”!
Just as Paul wanted no part of controversy, the same then should go for the Church.
Paul had only one desire for his children in the Lord.
Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, “to the end ye may be established”;
Rom 1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you “by the mutual faith” both of you and me.
We must realize that it only takes one person to stir up trouble in any Church.
*****2Co 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
2Co 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
We must never forget, Church discipline has only one goal and that is to restore that one who has fell from “Grace”.
Church discipline is not to run people off that we simply do not like!
There was a single person who had caused grief for this whole church.
It could have been that one who been so immoral but we also know that there were those in this church who had become opposed to the Apostle Paul and there is always a ring leader and some think this is the one because immorality is not mentioned in these Scriptures.
The truth is there was some one in this Church that was attacking God’s man and causing much grief and pain and bringing this Church near to collapse.
**This thing had to be dealt with.
1Co 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
**This man had to be stopped so God’s man (Paul) could do what he was called to do.
Rom 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
We are not called to judge a man called of God to preach.
Many today are Mama called and Daddy sent!
If God is his master, then God will cause him to stand or he will fall.
**This Church at Corinth had many problems like all Churches do but this controversy could cause this Church to fail.
Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Php 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
We know we have a good Pastor here at Gethsemane and we simply cannot allow anyone here in our church to stir up any controversy because of the message he preaches.
But we also must be willing to forgive everyone who repents of their evil doings!
Remember it is not the Pastor who disciplines, it is the Church, the “Body Of Christ”.
Paul had insisted this Church deal with this problem before he would return and they had.
But it was just as important that if this person repent that he also be forgiven and welcomed back into the family of God.
BUT, Some now felt that this should not happen and this person never be allowed back into the church.
We must first understand that church discipline is never to be about legal matters because church discipline is to only be about the will of God for His Church. The Church belongs to God!
The government disciplines those who break those laws
There will always be different opinions about church discipline and just like everything else we must depend on the Word of God to know what to do in these things.
What we know:
1) There was a man causing controversy in this church, in fact so much controversy that the Pastor had to ask this church to deal with it.
2) This church followed the advice of the Pastor and dealt with this problem.
3) Not everyone agreed that discipline was needed.
Not everyone agreed with the amount of discipline.
Some even believed that it was never to responsibility of the Church to do such things.
The pure fact is, that church discipline should have taken place before this controversy was allowed to fester and divide this church but also according to the Word of God.
AND, If this church had not done the right thing then the Apostle Paul would have stepped in and remember Paul had all the powers of the Apostles just as Peter and John and the other 9.
We know that the 11 Apostles had chosen a 12th and this is no slight on another good man but Jesus chose His own Apostles.
Paul cautioned this church:
2Co 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, “I will not spare”:
2Co 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present “I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification”, and not to destruction.
This church had forgotten the purpose of church discipline as most have today!
*****2Co 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
2Co 2:8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
The Lord Jesus made these things pretty simple for us all:
Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
First: any believer who attacks God’s church and God’s preachers must be corrected most of all, for his own sake.
Second: this person must be restored to a point that he loves God and all the people of God.
**There must be “forgiveness”, if this person repented!
Luk 17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
**There must be comfort and encouragement given to this person, if he repented!
It would be shame and embarrassment to be told to repent or to leave the church.
1Th 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Th 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
1Th 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
1Th 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
**There must be repentance from that offender! Once he had repented and demonstrated godly sorrow then the purpose of the discipline had been achieved!
If this person is not accepted back into the fold, these things could be more destructive instead of correcting, if “he be swallowed up in much sorrow”.
Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
**The church must go out of it’s way to assure this person of the love of the church!
One of the greatest testimonies of the church is love. This is always notable to visitors. If we cannot show that same love for each other we are failing as a church.
If the mess has been straightened out, its time to get back to the work of God, the quicker the better.
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Joh 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
It is this love that shows the proof of each and every church!
*****2Co 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
Most of us when we think about Church discipline, we always forget the purpose of the Church.
As long as any church knowingly compromises with those who commit the sins of the world, then the church cannot focus on it’s mission and it’s ministry.
Any church that is being disobedient to the Word of God will allow controversy and division to rule in the church rather than God.
Remember the Church was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior!
Rev_1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and “washed us from our sins in his own blood”,
Eph_1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
These things being true, if that person or persons repent of their evil ways, then that same merciful love of God is to be shown to them!
The same condition of pardon and life that we have been given from the Lord, is that we believe that person or persons and offer that same mercy and love to them.
The Church is to be obedient in all things!
The Bible says: Let our conversation be as it becometh the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ.
We are always to love one another!
We associate sin with the soul but we are to hate the sin but never show hatred to the soul which is of great value to the Lord!
The Church is in the business of saving souls!
We can only be the fishers of men and only the Lord can save!
*****2Co 2:10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
2Co 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
**Notice the Apostle Paul forgave this man in order to help this church but also to help himself.
The entire nature of the Lord’s Church is based upon forgiveness!
The Church exists only because God has forgiven our sins because of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ!
When the Church is unforgiving it is denying it’s purpose of existing!
The church that does not forgive and restore after repentance, needs to close the doors because it has no reason to exist!
This is when the true Pastor of that church should take the lead, as did Paul.
**Paul also forgave this person for the sake of Jesus Christ (“in the person of Christ”).
We must remember that Our Lord is so displeased with an unforgiving spirit that He will refuse to forgive anyone who is not forgiving themselves!
Jesus Christ expects us all to be just as forgiving as He is!
**Paul also forgave this man for another great reason, to keep Satan from taking advantage.
1) Satan would take advantage with that man if the church had not forgiven him and he would become a witness against the church and remain out in the world.
He may also have fallen into depression and despair and be swallowed up in sorrow.
2) Satan would take advantage on the Pastor. The ministry of that Pastor or church leader would have become ineffective. God would no longer bless the ministry of such an unforgiving man of God!
3) Satan would get a foothold in the church for the same reason. God will never bless the ministry of an unforgiving church!
Just as Paul states we must always be aware of Satan’s techniques!
We should always consider that Satan has never had to change the way he does things, because his ways have worked for several thousand years, because we fall into his traps so easily.
Satan’s mission is to tempt and destroy people and we must never help him because we will be betraying the reason Jesus Christ went to the cross, which was to save people!
We must remember the Word of God, our enemy is never our fellow man.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Satan is always determined to cause the church to fail in it’s mission!
1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
1Pe 5:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
AND, We should never question Paul’s love for this church nor any church.
As men we can only be at one place at a time. Paul was lead by the Holy Spirit as it should be!
Besides, if Paul had spent all his time running from church to church at every little problem, his own ministry would have failed!
For this reason, God chose to give us these wonderful epistles to teach us the truths of God!
We need to listen as Paul describes what God had called him to do and in these things we can learn about our own Pastor.
*****2Co 2:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
2Co 2:13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
A true pastor will always be gripped with passion to answer God’s call!
Every man called to preach, is called to preach “Christ’s Gospel”!
We see Paul as a pastor who was gripped by passion to preach the full council of God.
We see that Paul still had a deep concern for a troubled church but Paul also had to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit!
Paul had planned to go to Corinth but God had other plans and those attacks on Paul’s person had also made it an unwise thing to do.
Paul instead had sent his first epistle by Titus to this church but Paul’s passion to preach could not be quenched and he answered what we know of as the Macedonian call, but Paul was saddened because he had not heard back form Titus.
Notice Paul could not sit still while waiting on Titus!
We know that our own Pastor simply cannot sit still when he knows that there is another soul that could be reached for the Lord!
Notice when God’s called men are faithful to follow His lead, God will always open up another door for them.
What had God said?
Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
How did Paul feel about his calling?
1Co 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
1Co 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
1Co 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
No matter what Paul was doing or where he was preaching or what church he was staring, he still had a great concern for troubled churches and we know for certain that every church has it’s own problems.
Paul said “he had no rest for his spirit”.
Here again we can see our own Pastor and see that no matter what he is doing or how busy he is, he has a great concern for his church!
Paul also had great “faith” in the Word of God as does our own Pastor!
*****2Co 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
You see no matter what the world brings to hinder the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” if we follow in the will of God, and go through the doors that He opens there will always be victory!
The thing we need to remember is, just as Paul said the triumph was Christ’s, Paul may not have felt a great victory for himself in Corinth but he knew Christ was victorious in Macedonia!
When Jesus Christ has triumphed over us, we will certainly have victory in our lives. Paul felt this victory even in his sadness for Corinth.
We can all be apart of this same victory of Paul when we yield to the calling of the Lord Jesus Christ!
You see no matter who that Pastor or that missionary is, there can be no triumph without the Lord Jesus Christ!
Our one job is to make known the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ wherever Christ has placed us. This is our missionary field until God opens some other door!
As ambassadors for Christ, we must believe in Christ, trust in Christ, be called of Christ, serve in Christ, minister in Christ, live in Christ, move in Christ, and be in Christ!
It is never about us because it must always be about Christ!
When we do these things then we become a sweet savour to Christ.
*****2Co 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
2Co 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
It is obvious that not everyone will respond to the “Gospel” but that is not our calling. Our calling is to make known the “Gospel” to all people.
We are not to pick and choose who we witness to!
Everyone who is a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ is very precious to Him!
The message of the “Gospel” is either life or death to that one that hears it!
The the unsaved lost,”those who perish”, the “Gospel” we will then be the minister of death.
This is why the Christian is so hated!
The fact that they do not believe the Word of God is there own death sentence and all those who are dead to Christ now will remain dead to Christ throughout eternity!
This is another reason Christians are hated so, it is this message, but it is the Word of God.
AND, this is also the reason the world is trying to silence our true Pastors!
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
All those who accept the truth of God and believe, will pass from life to life. These can live now and then live eternity with God!
Joh 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
The Pastor who holds to the complete Word of God without compromise, is being sincere to his calling.
*****2Co 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Without a doubt even in Paul’s day, he knew that there were many more who corrupted the Word of God than who preach the truth.
The true Pastor and the true Christian will always speak in communion and fellowship with the Lord!
The true Pastor and the true Christian will always have motives that are pure!
Our ministry is to serve God and help people.
Tit 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Tit 2:8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
The true Pastor always speaks in the power of God and the presence of Christ Jesus and is therefore able to share that fellowship with others!
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Was Paul perfect absolutely not.
Is our Pastor perfect, he cannot be.
Are there any perfect pastors, preachers, missionaries? No
Our job is not to be perfect, our only job is to be true to the Word of God as best we can!