DELIVER SUCH UNTO SATAN.?

You all know the story. This ‘wonderful’ brother in the church of Corinth was having an affair with his father’s wife… I’m thinking a much younger wife but his step-mum nonetheless. Meanwhile, the sexcapade wasn’t a product of error – a one-time affair; he made a habit of it.

I’ve heard some say the fellow couldn’t have been a Christian. He must have probably been a mere churchgoer. No ‘real Christian’ can stoop so low into such a despicable. Well, I’m afraid he was indeed a Christian.

Just in the first chapter of the book, 1:2, Paul address his audience (the Corinthian Christians) as saints, i.e. holy. In fact, he praises their spiritual fervency in verses 5 to 7. However, just two chapters away (3:1-4), he refers to the same men he praised earlier as folks who behaved as carnal (mere) men. Although they were spirit-filled believers, traits as envying, jealousy and strife manifested in their conducts.

A believer can fall into sin when he fails to allow God’s Word influence his mind and consequently conduct.

Back to our dear brother – I’ll call him Brother Thomas. So Bro. Thomas -a man we were supposed to look up to in the church – was getting his step-mum laid. As if that wasn’t enough, the (Corinthian) church, where he worshipped, was nonchalant about it. In fact, they got arrogant over the matter: After all, unto the pure all things are pure.

You could imagine Paul’s indignation when he heard both of Bro Thomas’ lewd action and the I-don’t-care attitude of the church towards it. So you have such a ‘terrible Christian’ making a habit of fornication among you and turned a blind eye on it? How dare you allow him fellowship with you as if nothing happened and thereby make him feel comfortable with his actions? I’m ashamed of you all!

So Paul passes judgment over unrepentant Bro Thomas…

…to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus

Now, this is where our wild imagination kicks in. Deliver him to Satan? Apostle Paul, sir, do you mean we should seize Bro Thomas, take him to the Temple of Satan downtown and hand him over to Lucifer’s representative there so he can inflict bodily/physical on his body?

Paul would have been baffled by such reasoning. He couldn’t in any way have thought of bringing Satan into the picture. Think about it: A believer sins and we invoke the devil on him. How does that add up? What has Satan got to do with saints, even when it comes to correcting an erring believer?

To deliver such an one unto Satan is a manner of speaking!

To start with, the word Satan in the Greek is the word that means ‘accuser’. A reference to the name connotes accusation hence to deliver a fellow unto Satan will imply delivering (subjecting) him to accusation. That accusation will happen via excommunication!

Notice Paul’s major concern was the fact that they didn’t isolate the brother so he can be ashamed of his act:

…in place of feeling sorrow, you are pleased with yourselves, so that he who has done this thing has not been sent away from among you.

…purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump.

…I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators

…Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person…

He kept harping on the need for them to dissociate themselves from the brother so he won’t be a bad influence on the other believers.

Bro Thomas is being unremorseful/unrepentant. To deliver him to Satan will therefore mean to subject him to accusation by not keeping company (identifying) with him so that he burns with shame to the end that the lustful appetite in him can be destroyed. Hence Paul’s judgement was to serve as a corrective measure.

A believer has no business with Satan. When he sins wilfully, he is to be judged and corrected by the church and not the devil. It’s not unheard of for a believer to fall into an error. However, it’s uncharacteristic of a believer to make a habit of it. When that’s the case, the church will walk in love (correct) towards such via stern reprimanding.

Remember, bro Thomas’ ‘harsh judgment’ of excommunication is not forever. Just because he sinned does not make him rejected by God. God still cares about him and wants him straightened up, hence the correction.

Delivering him to Satan (excommunication) is to make him ashamed and correct him. When the correction is achieved, he is to be restored to the gathering and accepted back with love.

Hear what Paul had to say about Bro Thomas much later:

2Co 2:6 The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person.
2Co 2:7 So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he’s not forgiven and comforted.

Forgive him, comfort him and absolve him back into the fold! He is not a meat for the devil. He is a believer regardless.


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JOB AND HIS TEMPTATION: GOD’S ROLE IN IT…

The book begins with a glowing description of the main character Job. I particularly like how Good News Bible puts it: He was a man who worshiped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful not to do anything evil. What a man!

He wasn’t just a religious man but also a prosperous one. Actually, he was said to be the most influential person in the Middle East, back in the day. So this man had it all: The ‘fear’ of God and ‘a fat bank account’. What can go wrong?

But all of a sudden, a little thing called peripeteia happened to him. In simple English, he suffered a sudden tragic reversal in fortune. Well, the truth is the adversary, the devil sought to devour him. He envied his piety and prosperity and sought to inflict pain on him to the end that he loses faith in God. However, his devilish might notwithstanding, he couldn’t get to him without a loophole.

You see, the believer cannot be possessed of/by the devil because his body is God’s temple. He also cannot come under the devil’s authority because he has been translated into the kingdom/dominion of God/light. However, the believer can subject himself to the devil’s affliction if he lets down his guard.

Back to Job…So the devil needed an inlet and he found one – fear. Fear is a potent weapon in the devil’s arsenal. Listen to Job’s confession after the successive series of … that befell him – 3:25-26:

Everything I fear and dread comes true.
I have no peace, no rest, and my troubles never end.

His life was ruled by the fear of the unknown…He consistently conceived them in his mind till the devil made it a reality for him.

Interestingly, all along, Job thought God was the mastermind of his misfortune. In fact, he gave God the glory for what the devil did:

The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Many believing folks are like Job. They think God has a hand in the unpleasant things that befall them.

I once heard a true-life story of a clergy who paid a condolence visit to a woman who lost her baby. In his way of consoling the bereaved, the clergy said: Take heart. Your baby’s death is God’s will. You can’t but submit to it. That unguarded statement dealt a blow to the woman’s faith in God.

Some will say “God was surely involved in Job’s misery. He gave the devil the permission after all”. And of course, they make reference to the supposed conversation about Job between Satan and God. Now imagine the scenario: Satan strolled into God’s presence and had a dialogue with him? God and the devil having a tete-a-tete and struck a bargain over one of God’s children? Unthinkable!

What communion hath light with darkness?

What you find in Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-7 is a documentation of a spiritual reality as perceived by the documenter. Obviously, the writer was not present when these opposing forces were having their exchange. He must have gotten his …via a vision and in a vision, things seen are mostly not clearly understood and therefore requires revelation.

God never had a hand in Job’s desolation. It was all the devil’s mechanization.

God delivers from evil. He is never involved in it.

Here is another conspiracy theory: God made Job go through the hellish experience just so He could try his faith. What kind of God is that? God made me lose my job so I can be committed in church? God took my child from me to see if I’ll still serve him regardless? That’s not the God I serve!

Have you not heard?

It is not possible for God to be tested by evil, and he himself puts no man to such a test-James 1:13

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above – James1:17

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all – 1John 1:5.

Can you, as a father, ask that your son be kidnapped, punished and coerced into casting aspersion at you just to test how loyal/faithful he is to you? I think not. How much more the father of mercy and grace.

Ask yourself: What does stand to gain from such action. What pleasure does it bring to him to see his beloved suffer needlessly? If (hypothetically) God ever needed to test your faith/salvation, then his redemptive work wasn’t foolproof.

What was God’s role in Job’s temptation?

It’s the same role he plays in all temptation:

You saw that the Lord ended Job’s suffering because the Lord is compassionate and mercifull – James 5:11b.

God is true, who will not let any test come on you which you are not able to undergo; but he will make with the test a way out of it, so that you may be able to go through it- 1Cor 10:13.

God doesn’t tempt anyone. He is merciful. He provides a way of escape. He delivers from evil. This is my God!

For the most part of the book, through his dialogue with his friends, Job, in his limited knowledge, thought it was God dealing with him and testing his mettle. But he was wrong. He came to the realisation of the truth after God had upbraid him. Hear his confession at the end – Job 42:3&5:

…I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding.

I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.

He was ignorant of God’s involvement!

Rather than allow the devil to have a swell time over things that concerns us, we can exercise our authority in Christ over him and get him to take his hands off your things.

He is a good father. All the time!


Image Credits: rainbowtoken.com, Manna Ministry

©ayansola ibukun

DEAR BELIEVER

Dear Believer,

The Bible is already inspired (by the Spirit) – don’t inspire it. It is birthed in such a way that its understanding and application is singular, from one saint to another. Hence, your bias will never make it mean what it never meant.

God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and always. It’s not subject to variation with respect to time/space or individual outlook. If Jesus or His apostles (in their epistles) didn’t teach it, it can’t inform your conduct.

Therefore, resist the temptation to use God’s Word to validate your whims and caprices. That urge to intentionally misconstrue/twist the scriptures or interpret it out of context to justify dishonorable/ungodly actions/conducts is not of God – fight it.

Never get to that point in your Christian walk where you get comfortable using the bible to explain away or create excuses for wrong doings. Quit trying to cherry-pick from God’s Word: identifying with parts that sooths you and discarding/ignoring those aspects that addresses certain flaws in your life.

As a believer, you have no right to a personal opinion outside the purview of the Written Word. Thus, allow God’s Word to entirely influence your heart and consequently your life(style). In the place of prayer and diligent studying of God’s Word (in the local church), you submit to the training of the Spirit such that your selfish interests give way to God’s desire and design.

God has blessed you!


Image Credit: The ladders

©ayansola ibukun

SAVED TO BE BROKE?

GOD WANTS YOU TO PROSPER

I’m sure you’ve come across a couple of believing folks who think that prospering in material things is not a proof of godly living. They often have a cynical disposition towards other believers who live in financial abundance.

What’s more, they attribute any indication of wealth (be it acquiring a bespoke ride or a vast piece of property) to dubious means. In their opinion, whoever must serve God and live a holy life must need endure hardship on earth. He/she must suffer lack and go through all manners of adversity. This, according to them, is the true test of a believer.

Well, here is good news: God is not interested in anyone’s poverty neither does he take joy in a fellow’s misery. Instead, a man’s lack or otherwise is a function of his will/choice.

The bible is the source of inspiration for believers and it informs our manner of thinking and conduct. Hence, when it is misinterpreted, it results in misapplication. Hence, many a heresy has been birthed because people took biblical passages out of context. Let’s take a look at a couple of scriptures many stay-away-from-riches believing folks have misconstrued.

Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

In the passage referenced, Apostle Paul tells the Christians at Antioch that “we must through much tribulations enter the kingdom of God”. Many have taken this verse out of context to imply that the only way we can make heaven is through suffering or want. On the contrary, Paul was not talking about lack of material things here. Note that he uses the word tribulation.

When properly interpreted, the word ‘tribulation’ speaks of trials and persecutions, particularly for the sake of the gospel. Just in the preceding verses, Paul himself experienced such tribulation when he was stoned almost to the point of death while preaching at Lystra. Hence, that verse is saying “in the course of preaching the gospel and living a godly life, we will encounter persecutions and maltreatments from those who do not believe.

Here is another one:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows – 1Tim6:10.

Many have equated the statement to mean “money is the root of all evil”. Meanwhile, what it says is that the love of money is the root of all evil. What then is the love of money? It’s the inordinate desire to get wealth by all means (by hook or crook). When nothing else matters to a man but only the pursuit of money, he has the love of money. Money by itself cannot be root of all evil since the same money answereth all things. It’s the insatiable lust for it that results in evil.

The Rich Man and Lazarus: A Case Study

The advocates of the Spartan-like Christian living always like to use the account of Lazarus and the rich man as a basis for their belief. From the account, we read that Lazarus lived a miserable life but ended up in heaven while the rich man died and woke in hell. It should however be clarified that the rich man did not surface in hell because he was rich. Rather, he ended up in misery because of his uncharitable lifestyle while on earth.

On the other hand, Lazarus’ pathetic life on earth was never God’s will but his. Verse 21 of that passage tells us that he desired to be fed with crumbs – what a desire! Lazarus did not desire to be healed of his sores and neither did he desire that his story changed for the better. Instead, he desired to eat crumbs. And sure, he got what he wanted.

You won’t have it if you don’t desire it!

A man’s desire/choice is really powerful, even God respects it; for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he – Pro 23:7. God cannot help a man beyond the level of his desire. For instance, we read of the healing of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Jesus healed him based on his desires: Lord, that I might receive my sight. Yes, Lazarus was godly and all. However, he chose to remain in his sorry state. God was/is powerful enough to heal him and cause him to prosper. Nevertheless, He could not do it without his consent. If Lazarus did not desire it, God could do nothing about it. Therefore, no one should associate God with his or Lazarus’ miseries.

Lessons from Jabez

While Lazarus was content with pain and poverty, Jabez refused to settle for less. While Lazarus desired crumbs, Jabez desired much more. Consider the expression of his desire:

Oh that thou wouldest bless me and enlarger my coast and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!

Surely, God granted his request/heart desire.

Any believer who chooses to live in penury and hardship can do so as long as he keeps God out of his self-imposed misery.


Thanks for reading!


©Ayansola Ibukun

Dear Doomsday Preacher…

Dear Doomsday Preacher,

Seeing that you are bent on being a pain in the believers’ back, I write to give you a piece of advice: Stop seeing things, stay put on earth and get a day job for a change.

In case you don’t know, we are beginning to get irritated with your perpetual doomsday memos. When are you going to quit giving us situation reports from heaven and hell?

Come to think of it, there is no difference between the trips you take to heaven or hell or your revelations of them. When you happen to find yourself in ‘heaven’ (which is always far between) it’s only to tell us that you could only find few believers there and how most of us on earth may not make it there either. Of course, there is no point discussing your excursions to hell – it’s all about the souls of many a great men of God, believers and unbelievers alike languishing in it.

Do you really need to die and return to give us news from the great beyond? Must your mind-travels always leave fear, death and misery in its wake? Soon enough, if care isn’t taken, you will subject yourself to all manners of conscious astral projections and soul travel mediums just to gives us a ‘new message’ from ‘above’.

Why your twisted visions of hell persist

The reason for your constant twisted ‘revelations’ of/from heaven and hell is not far-fetched: the state of your mind. You can’t ‘see’ or perceive beyond your level of knowledge. What you think and believe God to be is what is projected to your thoughts and consequently your unconscious.

Let’s investigate your knowledge base a bit. For instance, you think of God as one who saves and destroys at the same time. For you, He is the supreme bipolar being who keeps alive and kills at his pleasure. Even though He is so loving of his own, he is still going to deny one of His children a pass to heaven because she does make-up or because she doesn’t follow your conceived ‘godly codes of conducts’ (erroneously called doctrine)…

We know why nothing edifying or life-transforming comes from your “revelations” and extra-terrestrial ‘sojourns’. The issue is with your knowledge of God – it needs an overhaul.

Learn from the rich man and Lazarus

Take a leaf from the account of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man, in his pathetic state in hell, would have ‘father Abraham’ send Lazarus to his brothers to warn them of the torment of hell. (Imagine that he still thought of Lazarus as an errand boy even in his pitiful state in hell). Hope you still remember father Abraham’s response to his request: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. If they won’t hear them, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead”. Q.E.D.

So brother, in like manner, we have the bible; we have the gospel; we have able ministers of that gospel and we will rather hear them than listen to your damnable messages. What’s more, we don’t need folks like you who ‘come from the dead’ to persuade us.

Also, rather than obsess over visions/revelations of ‘heaven’/hell, Armageddon, the day of the trump of God, etc. get busy with the study of God’s word and preach the gospel of the love of Christ. You don’t need to die and ‘come back’ to give us some ‘breaking news’. You only need to get busy with sound doctrine.

LEARN FROM APOSTLE PAUL

In case you still don’t make sense of all that I’ve said and still need further proof that your case is an isolated one, consider our dear Apostle Paul. Such a man with abundance of visions and revelations. Nevertheless, he chose not to glory in them or confound the church with such accounts. Instead, he stuck to the gospel. All he wanted was to see the knowledge of Jesus covering the earth even as the waters cover the sea. He was busy preaching the ministry of reconciliation and not the message of doom.

So let’s introduce you to Gospel 101: First, the gospel is not in visions and revelations of the spirit realm. Rather, it finds its source and strength in the bible. It’s how that Christ died for sins, rose again, ascended into heaven and forever seated at the right hand of the father (the place of authority). Whoever believes this is saved. The gospel is not about the power of God. Rather, IT’S THE POWER OF GOD. When it is preached and believed on, salvation is birthed. Any other message apart from this is ‘another gospel’ and cursed be he that preaches such – Gal 1:8.

Obsession with hell

Quit your obsession with hell. We are not scared of it. Actually, at redemption, we’ve been rescued from its torment. Rather than pollute the airways with your incessant message of disaster, tell the unbeliever about God’s love for him. Tell him how that He has already paid for their sins with His blood. Get as many of them to believe that message. That way, you would have done your best to decongest that hell.

Quit trying to scare us with the vision/revelation of Christ’ Second Coming. How that you saw Angel Michael about to blow the trumpet but was stopped by God at the last second. No man knows the day of His visitation- not even the angels. The message of Christ’ Second Coming is not meant to elicit fear. We are not scared of it. Rather, we live for it. We hope on and rejoice at His coming. In the meantime, while we await His return, we keep enjoying our state of heaven on earth.

Quit ministering fear all over the place, for there is no fear in love. If you must preach; minister grace, edification and salvation. Until you can, learn to be quiet, rightly divide God’s word and do the needful!
Selah!

With love,

A Concerned brother


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