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#6 United We Stand

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                                “UNITED WE STAND

                   (A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 02-25-07                       2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Proposition:      Our principal defense against Satan’s schemes is that we, with intentionality and humility, stand united as members of the each other and the Body of Christ.

i.    Introduction

-     A LUTHERAN pastor friend of mine from Texas says that Satan is a gradualist.

-     CONTRARY to popular notions, he doesn’t run around in a red suit with a pitch fork in his hands….jumping out of dark places to get you!

-     HE is smart enough to know that in this culture all he needs to do is to wait us out concealed in the shadows of life…and that eventually our choices will provide him a base of operations in our lives, our families, and our church.

-     STEALTH is to his advantage in our culture.

-     AND he has been so good at it that today in America over 60% of born again Christians don’t even believe that he exists.

-     BUT Satan is a living created being. God’s word says so and it is not up for a vote.

*     Ezekiel 28 says that he was created by God as a magnificent cherub and initially served before God’s throne responsible for directing worship to God.

*     Revelation 12 describes Satan’s ill-fated rebellion against God some time before Genesis 1:1…when he and his angels were cast out of heaven to the earth.

*     Revelation 12:9 says that their priority now on the earth is to deceive humanity and thereby to rob God of the glory due Him from your life and mine.

*     Jesus said, in John 10:10, that Satan had come to “steal and kill and destroy.”

*     The apostle Peter wrote,

      “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

*     Praise God that the apostle John wrote,

      “The Son of God [Jesus] appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

-     IT is important, for the purpose of the message from 2 Corinthians this morning, that you and I be reminded that there is a very real devil….determined to steal the glory due to God from our lives, our marriages, our children, and this church.

-     TODAY we are going to look at seven verses from 2 Corinthians 2….5 to 11.

-     BUT, just to set the agenda for this passage, let’s look at verse 11,

      I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)

-     WHAT was Satan’s scheme in the church in Corinth?

*     The same scheme as he has for you and me today.

*     To steal the glory due to God from the community of faith there in the city.

-     HOW was he going about it in the Corinthian church?

*     The same principle tactic he is still using today.

*     By getting God’s people divided and working against each other.

-     THE faces and names may change from place to place.

-     THE issues may change from time to time.

-     BUT Satan’s main tactic is to divide us.

-     HE was doing it in Corinth.

-     SO, let’s look at the message the Holy Spirit sends to Corinth through Paul.

ii.   what happens to one happens to all

-     LET’S pick up the message from verse 5.

-     THE issue at hand for Paul is the problem the church in Corinth had with a man who was openly sleeping with his step mother…and bragging about it.

-     IT was not conjecture or an accusation. It was common knowledge…and what made it worse was that rather than doing anything about it the church was proud of their tolerance of the sin.

-     PAUL had addressed the issue rather firmly, back in 1 Corinthians 5, and now Paul brings up the subject again.

-     AND, in 2 Corinthians 2:5, Paul says,

      “But if any [this man] has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you.” (2 Corinthians 2:5)

-     THE Corinthians still hadn’t gotten it.

-     THEY did not realize that the man sleeping with his step mother was hurting them.

-     THEY just thought that this was something that had ticked the apostle Paul off…and in Paul’s first letter he had demanded that they do something about it.

-     THAT kind of reaction comes from a gross misunderstanding of the nature of the Body of Christ.

-     SO, in Paul’s second letter to Corinth he has to teach them that when it comes to the Body of Christ….what happens to one impacts us all.

-     LET’S look at verse 5 again,

      “But if any [this man] has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you.” (2 Corinthians 2:5)

-     THE Christian life is NEVER lived in isolation. It is not possible. Everything you do, or I do, impacts everyone in the local Body of Christ…some things have impact on even the Body of Christ at large.

-     ROMANS 12:5 says,

      “…we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)

-     1 CORINTHIANS 12:26 says,

      “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

-     WE are organically and spiritually joined together in Christ….that comes with salvation.

-     THERE is no such thing as living the Christian life as a lone ranger.

-     THERE is huge blessing in being connected to the Body of Christ.

*     There is protection from the enemy there.

*     There is safety there in time of attack.

*     There is comfort there in time of distress.

*     There is instruction there.

*     There is correction there because it takes others to see what we are blind to.

*     There is a sense of belonging there that is not available anywhere in the world because unlike a club your belonging is based on Christ.

-     THAT is the beauty of being in the Body of Christ.

-     BUT there is risk also….

*     The risk that something you or I might do will have a negative impact on the Body.

*     The risk that something someone else might do will have a negative impact on you.

-     BUT that is a risk we all have to take. It is part of the cost of being a Christian and connected to the Body of Christ.

-     THAT is why Paul starts out this passage by saying, “What happens to one happens to all.”

-     AND what makes this lesson so difficult for us to learn in this country is that our whole frame of thinking is based on the individual NOT the community.

iii.  discipline and love are best administered by all

-     LET’S look at the next point that the apostle Paul makes in 2 Corinthians 2:6-9,

      “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority…” (2 Corinthians 2:6)

-     BACK in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul had instructed the church to exclude the unrepentant brother from the church.

-     NOW this may not seem like a big deal to us today.

-     IF you got excommunicated by Aurora Nazarene…you could go to Edgewood Baptist…the next Sunday and within a month be singing in the choir telling everybody there how badly you had been treated.

-     IN Paul’s day there was only one church in Corinth, and being cut off meant you had no…

*     protection from the enemy there.

*     no safety there in time of attack.

*     no comfort there in time of distress.

*     no instruction in God’s Word.

*     no correction for the things you were blind to.

*     no sense of belonging in Christ.

-     THAT was a serious enough deal to break you and bring you to repentance….which was the main purpose anyhow.

-     WE are talking about church discipline here!

-     BUT notice that Paul says in verse 6 that it was “inflicted by the majority.”

-     THAT means that it only works when the church is united.

-     I REMEMBER a few years ago in a Sunday service having to publicly correct a lady whose prophetic word I believed was off.

*     And she informed me a few days later that several people had come up to her and told her not to worry about what I said…they thought it was right on.

*     That is the spirit of rebellion…the spirit of “nobody is going to tell me.”

-     IF discipline is going to be effective in the church is requires that we be unified….just like a husband and wife need to be unified when they discipline their children.

-     LET’S move on to verses 7-9,

                           “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.” (2 Corinthians 2:7-9)

-     PAUL is saying in these verses that it is not only discipline that must be administered by a united church…but that forgiveness, comfort and love are also most effective when administered by a united local church.

-     APPARENTLY the discipline had accomplished its objective and the brother was now truly repentant.

-     SO now Paul instructs the church to be just as united in their forgiveness, comfort and love towards this brother in his restoration to fellowship.

-     PAUL makes the point in these verses that discipline and love are best administered by all…in a united local church.

iv. satan schemes are most effectively resisted by all

-     FINALLY, let’s look at verses 10 and 11,

      “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)

-     PAUL is reminding the believers in Corinth of his solidarity with them.

-     UNITY in the Body works both ways….between leadership and the congregation.

-     HE says, “If you forgive the man….I forgive him too.”

-     “AND I joined you in the act of forgiveness FOR YOUR SAKES.”

-     WHY would Paul’s solidarity with the cantankerous Christians in Corinth be for their sakes?

-     SO that Satan would not be able to take advantage of them all. Read it in verse 11.

-     HOW could Satan take advantage of them?

-     BECAUSE if they were divided amongst themselves concerning either the discipline of this man OR his subsequent restoration….they would play into Satan’s scheme and give him a base of operation in their church.

-     YOU see brothers and sisters, the issue in the Corinthian church…

*     was not whether this brother got disciplined this way or that.

*     nor was it even his restoration.

-     THE issue was that all of the Christians in Corinth walked in unity.

-     PAUL had instructed the church to discipline the man.

*     They did it.

-     PAUL had instructed the church to later forgive and restore the man.

*     They did it.

-     AND then in verse 11, before he went on to another subject, he said,

      “I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)

v.  conclusion

-     MAY I summarize these few verses before I close this morning?

1.   What happens in one of anyone of our lives happens to us all.

-     It is sobering. It should be. But nonetheless, it is how things work in the kingdom of God and the local church.

2.   Both discipline and love are best administered by all.

-     When the local church walks in unity in its discipline and in love and restoration, demons tremble because lives get transformed.

3.   Satan’s schemes are most effectively resisted when we walk in unity as the Body of Christ.

-     Rebellion gives Satan a place to land in our lives from which he can then do his work in us and those around us.

-     This is why the Bible says that rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft.

-     But Satan has no authority over our lives when we are unity…because he has no place to land.

-     THE life you and I live together in the local church is far more important than any of us realize.

-     I CAN only trust the Holy Spirit to convince you of the truth of what Paul has written and its application.

 

                                            MAKE US ONE

 

 

 

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