Sometimes it takes pain or misfortune to wake us. Isn’t it a shame that as long as things are going well most people don’t think of God? I couldn’t count the number of times someone has told me how jail or prison has saved their life or how they tend to draw near to God while they are incarcerated. I know people think “that’s jail house religion” and some of it is. The thing about it is I see the same thing happening with people even though they aren’t in jail. There are plenty of times when people seek God when things get tough only to disappear from the scene as soon as the crisis has blown over. How is that any different than “jail house” religion?
Seeing changes in people’s lives is the only real way to know if they are serious with God or not. Jesus told us we will know them by their fruit. It is the life change and not what people say that truly matters. Paul shared something like this with the Corinthians. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we read about a man who was having an affair with his father’s wife. Paul told them to discipline the man by expelling him from the church. He said, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” While this may sound harsh apparently it was the only way for this man to see the err of his ways. This decision was meant to cause this man to repent, or change his way of thinking, so he might be restored into the fellowship of the church. Restoration is the goal not excommunication.
Looking in the seventh chapter of the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians we see the result of this discipline. Paul wrote them “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” He goes on to say this sorrow produced in them the desire to vindicate themselves and to prove themselves innocent in the matter. Sometimes it takes drastic measures before we will do what is required to correct what we have done wrong. It may take a little embarrassment or pain to push us in the right direction. Most of the time it will take a little discomfort along the way which is what the delivering over to Satan for the flesh to be destroyed is all about. From God’s view he’s looking for a change in us, and if pain is the path then so be it.
There are a countless number of people who are only sorry they were caught. Then there are a few that have finally gotten to a place of Godly sorrow; a sorrow that says I not only don’t like that I was caught doing “that” I am sorry I did it at all. I can’t seem to stop this crazy merry-go-round of bad behavior, and I need Jesus. For me I finally came to the place where I didn’t care if anyone came with me or not I had to get things right with God. Once I came with that kind of intention things changed. Once I admitted I could not manage my life and God was going to have to do it everything transformed.
Written by Louie