Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2Cor. 2:11 KJV
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The Apostle Paul no doubt was a respected leader, not only amongst the Christians in biblical times, but even amongst generations long after his departure from this realm. Although, his letters were adjudged to be weightier in terms of influence, than his words (2Cor. 10:10), nothing detracts from the relevance of both to the support that they give to anyone who intends to live a successful Christian life. In chapter 2 of his second letter to the Corinthians, he addresses the need for forgiveness for one who may have caused one form of grief or the other amongst the brethren noting that he too feels the grieve they are feeling in that particular situation, maybe not as much as they may feel, but there is the need for them not to dwell too much on such errors by such a person. He advises that punishments meted out to such should be moderate after which such should be completely forgiven.
In doing the latter, there will be the need to deliberately go out to re-affirm their love for such a person. This becomes necessary in order for the brethren to avoid the devil outwitting them just as Paul rightly puts it: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Christian groups remain a group of human beings, all striving to attain some level of perfection in accordance with the Will and plan of the Almighty God, through His son Jesus Christ, for man. Because they are in a process of attaining perfection, the part of them that makes them imperfect will be revealed occasionally and it will be expected that co-imperfect brethren will be able to see it and not gloss over it. They are to help ensure that the opportunity for the perfection of that area of imperfection of that brother or sister is not lost by taking action to correct it and penalize it where necessary . Like every rebuke or correction, such actions do not come with smile, neither is it initially accepted with smile by the person being corrected. However, responsibility for ensuring that the intention is to perfect that area of imperfection of that brother/sister is achieved falls on those who want to play that role else the goodness of the intention may be lost in the manner of approach.
The Apostle Paul is conscious of all these, hence his advise to the Corinthians on this issue. No doubt that there must have been the case of a brother/sister whose actions or probably inactions brought some grieve to the brethren and they have decided to react accordingly. Paul agrees with them in whatever actions they may have taken but he wanted them to be careful not to find themselves playing into the hands of the devil.
This scripture remains relevant to Christian groups today as there seem to be so many “perfect” Christians in church whose “perfect life” needs to be protected from these “grieve causing” sinners amongst them. Their reaction to the imperfection of one amongst them is no longer with the intention to help in perfecting such a person, but to protect their “perfect” image amongst non members or avenge for some level of damage they feel they have suffered through the acts of such a brother/sister.
The consequence of this is a great split in the body of Christ to the delight of Satan. Today, there are many Christians who are outside the fold being victims of such reactions by fellow Christians, just as there are many still within the fold who are yet to realise that everyone is a work in progress and there will be the need for brethren to live together in tolerance and forbearance. When reacting to this kind of situation, the devil makes them feel they are protecting the church but the real damage is the depletion of the body of Christ.
Just as the Apostle Paul advised in the scripture today, it will be complete ignorance if as Christians, we continue to react excessively to grieve caused by fellow brethren without realizing that the essence of the church is to win as many souls as possible to God. The church is not and will never be a location for the gathering of saints. Everyone in there, whether they accept or not have one imperfection or the other. We all need to help one another, not by covering up the imperfections of one another, but by correcting and rebuking one another in love. That remains the only way we will not be populating the kingdom of Satan believing that we are either sanitizing the church or instilling discipline amongst the brethren.
May God grant us all the right attitude to addressing the errors of one another so we do not find ourselves being recruitment agents for Satan in Jesus name. Amen.