In 1 Corinthians 5:2-5, Paul continues to address the issue of unrepentance by telling the church, among other things, “hand this man over to Satan”. Wow, how harsh is Paul? Is this the old Paul rising up in the new? Absolutely not! This harsh appearing statement must be taken in the context of Paul’s letter. Notice in verse 3 that Paul has already passed judgement, but don’t overlook the fact that he is doing so in the name of our Lord Jesus. In other words, his judgement is based on who Jesus is and not on who Paul is. Paul also accompanies this letter to the Corinthians. Not physically, or under his own power or authority, but in spirit and the power of our Lord Jesus (v4).
When Paul says “hand him over”, it doesn’t mean the church is suppose to tackle him, bind him and toss him into hell’s inferno for eternity. It simply means that we rebuke him, citing the Word of the Lord, and not our own man-made agenda. And, because we use the Word of the Lord, we must necessarily do so in love and with the utmost desire that our brother is encouraged to the point of being reconciled with Christ. If he still refuses, he’s not refusing us or our word, he’s refusing God. At this point “handing him over” simply means that we allow him to walk out his evil plan with the hopes that the consequences will illuminate his guilt and he will come to repentance, and the ultimate goal of restoration. The same method is used with our family members and anyone else we love who claims to be an “authentic” or “pure” Christian.
What happens now is a matter of the heart. And, let’s face it, our heart is all Jesus really cares about in the first place. For we will all be judged according to our heart for the Lord. If our hearts are hardened toward Christ and we turn away from Him and refuse ourselves the benefit of His forgiveness by deliberately choosing sin over Him, we have already been judged by Him. On the other hand, if, when we’re confronted with the inerrant Word of the Lord, our hearts turn soft toward Him and we allow Him to cleanse us from this sin and its guilt, we have no problem with Christ, we are forgiven and restored.
How is a hardness toward Jesus enabling you to excuse or “justify” worldly living in your heart?
Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said. -Exodus 7:13
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
_My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. -Psalms 51:10,17