Difficult Texts

"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

The person under consideration had been guilty of unspeakable moral degeneracy (verse 1). Paul' s recommendation is to disfellowship the man from the body of Christ. He used words that cannot be misconstrued: "deliver such an one unto Satan," "purge out," "not to company with," and "put away" (verses 5, 7, 9, 13).

Paul used this strong language because the man had chosen to follow Satan. The church was merely recognising, and finally making official, what the man had openly decided and declared by his conduct. There was no thought to consign him to the devil, but rather to register on a temporary basis that the man preferred Satan's path to the path of Christ.

What did Paul feel might be the result of this drastic action? His hope was for "the destruction of the flesh." Paul's favourite expression for the unconverted was "the flesh," To the Romans he wrote, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8. Perhaps the shock of being expelled from the fellowship of the church would turn the sinner to repentance and cause him to crucify the flesh, thereby destroying the gross works of the flesh that had brought on his condemnation. Thus his spirit could be transformed and spiritualised for the day of the Lord. He could be restored to church fellowship and saved at the coming of Jesus.

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