Devotional/Reflection: Discipline is quite unpopular in our culture. Many view any form of discipline, even disciplining our children, as unloving. Many misunderstand discipline as punitive, cold-hearted, and judgmental. For these reasons and surely many others, the church, too, has failed to enact discipline with a redemptive and instructive purpose. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul addresses a serious issue of sexual immorality within the Corinthian church. Paul then makes clear that the proper action, the one which the church has failed up until this point to take, is to remove him from the church, to treat him as an outsider, and to hand him over to Satan. To hand him over to Satan could be misunderstood to mean that they are condemning him to hell, but rather I think the meaning is that Satan is the current “ruler” of this world, so to send him outside the church is to hand him over to a culture increasingly controlled by the forces of Satan. Moreover, Ignatius of Antioch once wrote that when the church is gather together they repel the forces of Satan; hence, to remove one from the fellowship of the body is to remove also this collective power against Satan. Yet despite this seemingly harsh reality, it seems to be for redemptive purposes, that his soul might be saved in the end. As hard as it is, we must once again recapture as a church the need to discipline redemptively those who are living in unrepentant sin. We must be willing to confront this sin in those we know, and we likewise must be prepared to receive correction if we find ourselves living in sin.
- Is there someone you know living in unrepentant sin who needs you to give them hard love by confronting them in their sin?
- Is there an area of your life where you need to repent of sin?
- If removing one from the fellowship of the local church is equivalent to handing him over to Satan, what does that say about the importance of the local church?
- Are you involved in a local church that practices church discipline? Does your local church help you repel the power of Satan?
Scripture Memory: “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”–1 Corinthians 5:4-5