1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NKJV) 18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (NKJV) 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
In my last post I shared the process I believe our Father uses when he chastens us. We learned from Hebrews 12 that God chastens everyone he loves. If he does not chasten us, we are not his children. There is a problem in any human society with child abuse. God is not a child abuser. He does not discipline out of anger. He does not discipline because we irritate him. He does not discipline for his good. He only disciplines for our good. He does not use abusive methods to discipline. Let me list the process of God’s chastening as I see it. This list comes from the study of the word and my own experience.
1. God first deals with us personally and inwardly. He lets us know something is wrong. He leads us in his Word to scriptures that point out the problem. He may use the pastor, other preaching and in some cases the prophetic word to bring conviction into our hearts so that we will deal with the problem.
2. If we do not respond to this kind of discipline, he will begin to lift his presence from our lives. We have all experienced this. There are times when we do not feel his presence and it has nothing to do with discipline. When this situation goes on for a long time, we need to ask God what the problem is. I believe we usually know. We simply do not want to face what needs to change.
3. If we do not respond to the lifting of God’s presence, he will lift his anointing. The anointing of God is his enabling ability. It is the touch of his hand on what we can do taking it to another level. We need the anointing for ministry to others but I believe God gives us anointing to live. We need his touch in our home life, our work and our witnessing. When the anointing lifts things just do not work the way they should.
This is obviously a superficial look at God’s chastening but I think any Christian will recognize this process. For each individual, it plays out differently. God can deal with us at each level for long periods of time. The duration may depend on the severity of the sin and how dangerous it is to us. If my children were about to run into the road, my response was swift and seemed severe. That was because I did not want them to get run over by a car.
If we do not respond to the inward dealing of God, the removal of his presence or the removal of the anointing we may find ourselves in the position described in the above scriptures. In 1 Timothy, Paul is exhorting Timothy not to be like Hymenaeus and Alexander. These two men had rejected faith or total reliance on God and, what the bible calls, a good conscience.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul speaks of those who have their conscience seared. The conscience is where the three phases of chastening occur. Paul is speaking of people who have chosen to ignore the conscience until they no longer hear or feel the dealings of God. They no longer realize that his presence has departed from them and they do not care that the anointing has left. We need to take special notice of this as he describes it as common in the latter days. I believe we are living in the latter days and I see far too many with this condition in the church and her leaders.
In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul tells Timothy that rejecting God’s chastening has caused them to be shipwrecked in their faith. He makes a frightening statement. Paul has delivered them to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. I want you to notice that it was not God actively chastening them at this point. They had ignored that. Now Paul had no choice but to withdraw his protection and intercession. They had put themselves into the hands of Satan. Satan does not chasten, discipline and train. Satan abuses.
It seems that Paul is the agent that allows them to come under the attack of the devil. I believe it would be more accurate to understand that God had shown Paul that because Hymenaeus and Alexander had ignored the chastening and discipline of their loving Father God, their only hope was to be allowed to endure the fruit of their disobedience.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is referring to a situation in the church where a person had fallen into gross sin and the church seemed to be allowing it. Sometimes we do not want to be harsh with people when they sin. The bible does say that we should consider ourselves before we are too hard on someone else. However, it is clear in the scripture that there is a point where we cannot allow sin among us. As a pastor for 39 years I understood that I had to consider the good of the whole flock. There is a time to aske the sinner to leave if they will not repent. We must also see that this is the best thing for the sinner as well.
If a person will not respond to the chastening of the Lord including that which God uses the local church to accomplish, we are not helping them by allowing them to continue in their sin with no response from us. Paul says that they needed to deliver such a one to the devil for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved in the end.
We are so temporally minded that we have a very difficult time accepting that statement. We feel bad for the person. We feel guilty that we are not reaching out to them. We want to “get them back into the fold.” In our love for them we may say, “Well, I know he shouldn’t be doing that but we can’t reject him. Everybody sins.”
Paul is not talking about lightly rejecting someone. He is talking about someone who has refused to respond to the chastening of the Lord. Although Paul says we must deliver them to Satan, it could be said that we must let God deliver them to Satan. We cannot fix what God says is broken. The motivation here is not that we have peace in the church or that we can remove an irritant from our lives. The motivation on Paul’s part and on God’s is that this person will come to a place where they will end up with Jesus in the end. That is more important than the temporary hurt that may be caused to them. God is concerned about eternity far more than about today.
This is not what God wants for any of us. We see again that God is not the active agent in what happens to that person. The person has made the choice to reject his Father’s dealing and must now reap the consequences. In my last post, I used the example of a child who rejects the parents training and chooses to drive too fast. We could add chooses to use drugs or alcohol or engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.
The consequences are not the parents fault if they have done all they can to train and discipline the child. The consequences are their fault for disobeying. The parent did not cause the accident or the pregnancy, etc. The child did. The parent will use the opportunity to teach the child but the thing that happens is not part of the discipline, it is caused by ignoring the discipline and rejecting the training.
God is a good Father. He does his part by dealing with us. He gives us leaders to love us and care for us and help in the chastening process. If we do not listen, we will endure hardships. That is our fault. In my next post, I will share what God does after we come to this point in chastening. Thank God there is hope even then!
(Here is a link to my daughter’s blog. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36193846. I highly recommend you follow this blog especially if you are a mom. I may be partial but it is awesome!)