Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Forgiveness Factor (part 4): Three Objectives Toward Forgiveness

“So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, 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.” [2Co 2:8-11 ESV]

Another feature of forgiveness is comfort. This is what Paul intends by instructing the church to come alongside the man who repented, reaffirm him with Christian love.

The idea here is that reconciliation has occurred AND both sides are talking, conversing. Fellowship restored so all that’s left to do is encourage, strengthening. Don’t let a repentant person to wallow in sorrow. Guilt is found in sin, not in forgiveness. The man was over- whelmed in sorrow, aware of his sin but also afflicted under punishment. Now it is time for the church to meet three objectives:

First, “Reaffirm love” (2:8); that is, demonstrate that the discipline the man experienced was out of love for the person and hatred for the sin. The intention is not to destroy him, but help him bear Christ’s name as a new creation. Paul says he will stand behind their forgiveness, fellowship in shared ministry.

Second, “Be obedient in all things” (2:9-10). If his sin was so heinous they could no longer love him then they should check their motives. But here’s the real test: will they do what Paul says? They have been deceived to reject Paul yet they did what he instructed in the first letter by rejecting the man. Will they take the man back since he repented by Paul’s instruction and the preaching of the gospel? This is a great opportunity for the church to step back and review the source of counsel: is your teacher giving biblical counsel? Compare and contrast what teachers say with scripture!

Finally, “Don’t be ignorant of Satan’s Schemes” (2:11). Do you see who the real enemy is? It's not the person who seeks forgiveness. The enemy is the devil, adversary of God and man, the accuser. We see Satan at work accusing Paul, we see him at work accusing a man forgiven of sin--what makes us think he no longer operates when we are often tempted to withhold forgiveness from another person who names Christ? Here’s how the adversary works--Satan says things like this:
  • “Everyone has bad habits, no worse than yours”
  • “After a few weeks this will all blow over”
  • “You don’t want to be disappointed do you?
  • “I really don’t feel like praying/giving/serving/forgiving.”
  • “I’ll get to it eventually.”
Deceptive thoughts like these tempt us to withhold forgiveness from the one who repents of his hurt against us. 

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