hath so wrought this thing, in the name of the Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus...Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.?
Notice here that Paul gave the incestuous person no opportunity to repent, confess or avert sentence. The church can have no valid evidence of repentance immediately upon discovery and arraignment. At such a time the natural conscience always reacts in remorse and self-accusation but whether the sin is hated because of its inherent wickedness or only because of its unfortunate consequences, cannot be known at once. Only fruits meet for repentance can prove repentance real. But such fruits take time.
And the church has no time to wait. Its good repute in the community and its influence over its own members are at stake. These therefore, demand the instant exclusion of the wrongdoer, as evidence that the church clears its skirts from all complicity with the wrong. In the case of gross public offenses, labor with the offender is to come, not before but after, his excommunication; cf. <470206>2 Corinthians 2:6-8 ? ?Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many...forgive him and comfort him...confirm your love toward him.?
The church is not a Mutual Insurance Company, whose object is to protect and shield its individual members. It is a society whose end is to represent Christ in the world, and to establish his truth and righteousness. Christ commits his honor to its keeping. The offender who is only anxious to escape judgment and who pleads to be forgiven without delay, often shows that he cares nothing for the cause of Christ which he has truly injured but that he has at heart only his own selfish comfort and reputation. The penitent man will rather beg the church to exclude him, in order that it may free itself from the charge of harboring iniquity. He will accept exclusion with humility, will love the church that excludes him, will continue to attend its worship and will, in due time, seek and receive restoration. There is always a way back into the church for those who repent. But the Scriptural method of ensuring repentance is the method of immediate exclusion.
In <470206>2 Corinthians 2:6-8 ? ?inflicted by the many? might at first sight seem to imply that, although the offender was excommunicated, it was only by a majority vote, some members of the church dissenting. Some interpreters think he had not been excommunicated at all but that only
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