Forgiveness For The Sinner

DL Moody, a great evangelist of another generation told the story of an English lady who confronted him after he said to the congregation to which she belonged: “None in this congregation will be saved until they stop trying to save themselves.” The lady said, “You … More


Church discipline is not a popular subject and very few churches today really practice it. Too many churches just sweep things under the rug instead of obeying the  Scripture by taking care of the situation in love (Ephesians 4:15). In the case of the person referred to in this passage, it seems that the church had disciplined him but now that he had repented they refused to forgive him (vv. 5-6). Paul knows that Satan can and will use this incident to hinder the work of God in the Corinthian church unless it is properly handled. Satan’s first objective is to stop the Gospel from going out (4:4). If  he can bring disunity to the church, then he  has accomplished his objective.

Paul urges the church to forgive the man and gives three basic reasons for this admonition:

  1. To forgive him for his own sake (vv. 7-8). The purpose of discipline is not to destroy but to edify and restore.
  2. To forgive him for the Lord’s sake (vv. 9-10). When others see this unforgiving spirit in Christians they will have a hard time accepting the Lord’s forgiveness.
  3. To forgive him for the church’s sake (v. 11). To harbor bitterness and possessing an unforgiving spirit grieves the Holy Spirit and “gives place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27-32).

Martin Luther could scarcely bear to pray the Lord’s Prayer because his own father had been so stern that the word father painted a picture of grim terror to him. He used to say, “Spare the rod and spoil the child-yes; but, beside the rod keep an apple, to give the child when he has done well.” Punishment should encourage and not discourage.


Lord, help me to not be a person who just sweeps wrong doing under the rug, but at the same time I want to always exercise love and concern toward the person being confronted.

II Corinthians 2:5-11 (English Standard Version)

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure--not to put it too severely--to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 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.

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