STRATEGIES OF THE DEVIL – PART TWO

I Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:1-5

We have been examining several areas of Satan’s attacks through which he is seeking to do divert Christians from living by faith.  We will begin our study today with the fact that Satan has false teachers in churches, revival meetings, small group studies and any area that Christians are gathering to study God’s Word.

This strategy of the devil is so interesting, why?  Because we, as Christians, have seen the frustrating truth of false teachers.  The Devil sends false teachers, who are very impressive people, across the path of the believer.   However, we must never forget that Satan is not a fiery red person with horns, a pointed tail, and a pitch fork in his hands.  Satan is a living being in the spiritual world, a being who is transformed into a messenger of light (2 Corinthians 11:14),  and he has ministers who walk about as ministers of righteousness.  However, the message they proclaim is a righteousness other than that of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:15).

Their message is that of self-righteousness, that of:

  • human goodness of works
  • ego and self-image
  • personal development and growth but not thru God Ephesians 6:10
  • self-improvement and correction
  • mind and will

Such messages appeal to the flesh of man and they are helpful to Satan’s cause.  This must be realized and acknowledged.  Why?  Such messages are not the basic power needed by man.  They cannot deliver man from the great trials and sufferings of life or death.  They can only lead man down the path of all flesh – that of death, decay, and eternal judgment (Matthew 7:13 -wide gate).

The point is this:  one of the most prominent strategies of the devil is to deceive man with false teachers and ministers and their appealing but false messages.  The believer is doomed TO A LIFE WHICH IS NOT PLEASING TO GOD, unless he is clothed in the FULL ARMOR OF GOD EVERY DAY (Ephesians 6:10-18).

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his DEVICES” (2 Corinthians 2:11; Galatians 5:16-17).

Let’s think a little about this very important principle. Second Corinthians contains several important principles if we will consider what God is attempting to teach us about “love” and “forgiveness” (see 2 Corinthians chapters 2-12).

This is an area where Satan often has great success in defeating the church today.  When ego infests the church, Satan will move in with great quickness.

CHURCH DISCIPLINE – 2 Corinthians 2:6At Corinth there was a church in need of holding church discipline.  Apparently one person had initially poisoned and led a clique of people to oppose Paul. Paul had insisted that the church deal with the problem and discipline the offender.  Note two points:

  1. The church voted on the matter and the majority agreed. They did discipline the offender.  Note that the vote was not unanimous, it was only a majority (“many” 2 Corinthians 2:6).
  2. Some in the church felt the discipline was not stern enough. They wanted the offender to be disciplined more severely.

Consider that there have been and always will be questions and different opinions about church discipline.   Just like Corinth….

  • some feel that the church should discipline; others feel that it should not discipline those who have sinned and not confessed their sins.
  • some feel that discipline should be light, others feel that it should be more heavy-handed.

There are many lessons seen in these passages (1 Corinthians chapters 5-9) thus far:

  1. A man was committing so much wrong in the Corinthian church that the minister felt the man had to be disciplined and corrected. Therefore, the minister encouraged the church to deal with the matter.
  2. The church followed the advice of the minister and considered the matter, and the majority of the church members agreed. They disciplined and corrected the offender 2 Corinthians 2:6.
  3. Not everyone agreed with the discipline, nor with the severity of the discipline. However, the church did discipline the man, and the man was corrected despite differences of opinion.  The minister, and the majority of church members did rule (2 Corinthians 2:6).

“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:” (2 Corinthians 13:2).

“Therefore, I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness [discipline], according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction” (2 Corinthians 13:10).

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (I Thessalonians 5:14).

“A man that is an HERETICK after the first and second admonition REJECT; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they THAT MUST GIVE ACCOUNT, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). 

Church discipline – 2 Corinthians 2:7-8

NOTE: The first purpose for discipline is the restoration of the offender. This is critical to note:  It is one of the two major purposes for church discipline.  Any believer who attacks God’s minister and disturbs the church must be corrected.  The offending brother must be corrected not only for the sake of the church and the minister, but for his own sake.  The offending believer must be restored to the point that he loves God and the people of God, including the minister of God.

Note that the man had repented of his “sin” he was gripped with sorrow — much sorrow (v. 7). Therefore, the purpose of the discipline had been achieved.  Hence, Paul encouraged the church to restore him.  Note the four things involved in restoration.

  1. There is the forgiveness of the church -2 Corinthians 2:5-11 – The man had committed a terrible sin: criticizing and attacking God’s minister, disturbing the fellowship of the church, and affecting the name and witness of the church in the community. There was the danger of some church members holding bad feelings and not forgiving the man.  The exhortation of Paul and the Scripture is strong: “forgive him” and “love him.”

Forgiveness would also involve bringing the person back into the fellowship of the church if he had been excommunicated or had his membership withdrawn.

“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:4).

“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” (Luke 17:4).

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ for gave you, so also do ye” (Colossians 3:13).

  1. There is the comfort or the encouragement of the church – 2 Corinthians 2:7-8The man needed to be comforted and encouraged.  Unquestionably, he felt shame and embarrassment, for he had been the focus of church-wide attention and discipline.

He would also be wondering just how people really felt about him.  Would they be forgiving and accepting or withdrawn and begrudging? The man had created a scandal and hurt both Paul and the church; therefore, the only way he could ever be comforted and relieved of guilt would be for both Paul and the church to strengthen him in that comfort and assurance.

“So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one would be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow,” (2 Corinthians 2:7).

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves.  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (I Thessalonians 5:11-14).

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith our God” (Isaiah 40:1).

  1. There is the repentance of the offender. The man who attacked Paul had repented.  He had demonstrated a repentant godly sorrow.  Therefore, it was time for restoration.  The purpose for discipline had been achieved.

However, note Paul’s concern and warning.  There is danger that the discipline can last too long and be too severe.  There is a point at which the discipline can become destructive instead corrective.  Where is the point?

The offender must be FORGIVEN AND COMFORTED before he is “swallowed up with sorrow,” that is, before he falls into deep depression and despair – 2 Corinthians 2:7.

Once he has repented and demonstrated genuine sorrow, he is to be restored back into the fellowship of the church.

“I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring 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” (Acts 20:35).                                                                           

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations [arguments, discussions]” (Romans 14:1).

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

  1. There is the assurance and demonstration of love by the church – 2 Corinthians 2:8. The believers were to go out of their way to show the man that he was loved.  The discipline and correction were only to straighten out the mess and to get everyone back on the track of loving one another and ministering for the Lord.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that he also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you [sacrificially]” (John 15:12).

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye king [loving] one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

“And walk [live] in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.        

Beloved if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another [sacrificially]” (I John 4:10-11). 

The second purpose for the discipline was the obedience of the church to its mission.  Very simply, as long as the church allowed the man to continue his disturbance, the church could not focus upon its mission and ministry, it could not do its work; it was being disobedient to God, allowing controversy and division to rule.  Its fellowship was being ruined and its very purpose for being upon earth was being drastically affected.

The point is this: Paul had instructed the church to discipline the offender in order to prove its obedience to Christ.

  • If the church was concerned about obeying Christ, then it had to deal with the man.
  • If the church was not concerned with obeying Christ, then it would just continue allowing its minister to  be attacked and its own attention to be distracted from its ministry and focused upon controversy.

As stated, the second purpose for disciplining the offender was to free the church from controversy, allowing it to focus upon its mission and ministry.

It is through the correction of offenders and disturbances that the church proves.

  • its love for the offending brother and its minister.
  • obedience to Christ “in all things.”

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

“Only let your conversation {conduct, behavior] 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;” (Philippians 1:27).

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted”  (Galatian 6:1).

Note:  Much more could be said about church discipline and loving one another but if you have questions please drop us a note at: openbibleministriestn@gmail.com.

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