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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Handing Someone Over to Satan

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV) 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 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 Timothy 1:19-20 (ESV)
19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Thers is a disruption in your church. Either a group or someone is causing problems in the fellowship. They may be corrupting the church's purity or creating a bad reputation for the church or teaching blasphemy. The church however doesn't know what to do with them. The church does not know how to defend herself..

Many times churches and, thus, individuals in the church act in the same manner as the one who is causing the disruption. There are business meetings to oust the troublemaker. There are secret meetings to keep the person off of committees. There is campaign to destroy the person. These are all wrong.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that the church shouldn't oust the person. That may be necessary but the removal of a person from a church has one goal: repentance and the subsequent re-entering the fellowship of the church.

This is also the goal of handing this disruptive, sinful person over to Satan.

The church will never be completely pure as long as believers have a sin nature. We have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory. We are all in need of repentance and confession to be cleansed from our unrighteousness again and again. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about taking every issue people commit to the church leadership. This would result in a constant witch hunt. The church would never have the time to make disicples.

This concerns the unrepentant corruption of the church. This is a public sin which does not need to be shared with others because it is already known. It should be met with tears and grief at its discovery. It should be handled carefully. It should be an act of love even though the action(s) against the person may be harsh.

The battle must be fought in the realm where it originates. Turning the person over to Satan is an act which removes God's hand of protection from the individual so that he or she will be "sifted" by Satan. Satan's desire is to destroy us all. It is revealed in the Garden of Eden and continues with the murder of Abel. We cannot imagine the evil Satan is capale of and would bring upon us if God did not hold him back.

It is through this act that we learn the charge given to Peter when Jesus told him He would give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. The church may bind and loose things on earth and in heaven. Here the church looses Satan to do as much as God permits to bring the recalcitrant person to repentance. (I know this is not the common interpretation of this verse. Most commentators are especially vague when they explain Matthew 16:19. I do not understand this verse as overruling the will of God concerning someone. I see it as participating with God to see someone brought back into God's grace and discipline.) Paul appears to have done this as an individual when he speaks to Timothy. Apparently, he was acting within his own authority as an apostle.

So, there are times when someone who is unrepentant and who is disrupting or corrupting the fellowship of the church should be turned over to Satan. It is really a harsh action to take and must be done with extreme care.

But, sometimes it needs to be done.


Anonymous said...

I have just been thinking about this action after reading a book written for parents of teens/young adults who are behaving terribly.

(It was an odd book that seemed to swing from an enabling, anything goes kind of acceptance to the above-mentioned approach and back. It was highly recommended and I read thru it with the idea of using it as a resource for hurting parents. Ha. Unless something changes in the last three chapters, can't do it, I don't care who likes it.)

As far as your interpretation goes, Job comes to mind. Even tho satan is given freedom to wreak immense havoc on Job, God put limits on him even in that.

Nothing happens to us that God doesn't permit; satan is not a free agent, more powerful than God.

Thanks for this.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, few interpret it that way - that, it is that, God removes His hand of protection, which in the first place, such protection is given by grace.

But that interpretation, I subscribe, and I believe, is the appropriate one.  There are other texts in Scripture which similarly said about God giving someone over to be tormented or similar "giving over". Ps Prentis explained it that the underlying motivation ought to be love, and that, it in my view too, is correct. 

As we learn love from God, we move in love.  The way God loves, does not exclude chastisement.  In fact, Scripture said that the one God loves, He chastises.  Chastisement is not punishment in finality, it is reformative in motivation.  It is love, and it is also, viewed from understanding of the nature of God, about issue of God is holy.  That God is holy, this is immutable; He is set apart as such, or He is not God.  God is not God if God is not set apart from evil. Chastisement and reformation is for our good, for it is to conform us, firstly, back to the image of God, and then that we may therefore, live out our image.  It is for our sake, for evil cannot go with holy, and so, if you and I want to be with God, it is imperative that we be holy as God is holy.  Scripture does call us to be so - be holy as God is holy.  In the Hebrew's rich language of love in the OT, I have discerned that a immutable aspect of God's love is that it is love (of God for men) unto righteousness. In simple term, even God's love is subject or subjugated to His holiness. 

I write commentaries, literally, for my own study of the Word, and one thing I discover is that I cannot keep linking all connected "aspects" in great details, for a text or passage; it will be "room not enough" so to speak; and it will make it difficult for other readers or users of my writings to catch the focus or particular emphasis that is intended to be conveyed by the text or passage. I suppose "concordance" came about to help us to bring  the overall counsel of the Word to bear on a text or message, but even concordance can only be that comprehensive, the rest needs the revelational illumination by the Holy Spirit.  When it is about the subject of love, it is a powerful attribute, and  when it is talked about in Scripture, just i cannot put all aspects in my commentary about a text, inadvertently, at times, it (love) is held out in its absolute; i.e. understanding that it is subject to righteousness and thus holiness, is relegated to the background, so much so, readers miss out that "subject to", but it is still there, and must not be forgotten.

When we say a loving God cannot be doing such - to hand over or to give over someone to  the evil one(s) or to torment, we are viewing love by it's absolute, dismantled of that important "subject to".  And so, even many scholars and preachers hold out love to be without subject (to), and the result, is that many believers also ended up with too skewed a notion of love, and that above all else God is love; no, above all else, God is holy; and by the way, above all personhood attributes, God is God. Here is not the place to expound more, but pastors and preachers ought to themselves be settled in their hearts, that the number one nature-attribute and number one personhood-attribute of God are holiness and God, respectively, and not love or fatherhood, etc, and tell it, this understanding, to their flocks.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

It is not that God is evil, but it is God is honor or honorable.  God does not intend evil against any of us (but the demand of His holiness needs to be satisfied at one point or another, and we pray for ourselves, that for us, each individual, God be merciful to hold back any punishment in finality for us, if any, until the very end). Even so, He can use anything, even the evil ones, even as He honors He has given volition to men, from Creation. You can have your volition, and He can use anything. 

We are exhorted to bring wayward brethrens back, but really, as much as we hate it, so to speak, at times, we just cannot do anything, because we have to respect the person(s) choice or volition, and so, we let him or them go his/their way.  Yes, we can hold him or them in prayers, but even that, at times, we have to do housekeeping for that list of people we intercede specifically; how long can your list be; we have to delete some and add some at some point in time (but I am not saying, there is general formula that you are to follow, like" drop a name when ...."  When God desires it stays on, it is to stay on, your list of people to pray for). We let go of such people, including we no longer pray for their shielding from the full(er) force of the evil one(s) to "wake him/them up". I and some others, believe God does that too, and so, in extreme circumstance, we likewise do that.  

Nothing is outside of God's preview, however, and so, He longs for even such strayed individuals to turn of heart, and He will receive them back in love -  the parable of the return of the prodigal son, is an illustration of this.  And so, even as we claim we act in a manner that God would act, we have to be embracing the full works of it, meaning including the underlying motivation, and be prepared to receive back a heart that turns back.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions