Impartial Grace: 1 Corinthians 5

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

(1 Corinthians 5:4-5, emphasis added)

Paul is pointing out a wicked man and his wicked behavior. He is declaring to the good people in the Corinthian church that this wicked man must be put out of their assembly. The “banishing” is lovingly ordered. It is loving on two levels. First, the church in Corinth has become arrogant and lax. They have tolerated the abhorrent behavior of this man and have done nothing to stop it. By acting to remove the bad actor the church itself will be better. Second, the man’s behavior, being exposed, will be no longer tolerated and he will repent. Paul writes that the church in Corinth is to cut this man loose; to hand him over to Satan. Cutting the wicked man loose the church will improve and the man’s spirit will be saved. The church will not prosper as long as he remains. That’s true in every local congregation. As long as evil is present the local assembly will not prosper fully. Even wicked men in wicked churches may lose their flesh to Satan, but their spirits are not lost. Ecclesiastes 12:7 states, “And the soil returns onto the earth just as it was, And the spirit, it returns to the One, Elohim, Who gave it.” The wicked man, removed from the church or not, will not see his spirit tormented forever.

God is love and God does not condemn any of His creation to eternal conscious torment. That does not mean there will not be a purifying fire as we discussed earlier. Ask yourself this, “If that wicked man in the Corinthian congregation knew Jesus, had confessed his sins including the inappropriate relationship he was having with his step-mother, repented for a time, but continued in that sin anyway, has he lost God’s grace?” Will he experience God’s wrath forever because he failed?” Care should be taken when answering that question. There is no one who can testify that he has not sinned. Can anyone say he has not sinned since his day of grace?

The doctrine of universal reconciliation praises God because of His mercy and because of the intensity of His love for His creation. He loves even those who hate Him. It is because God’s love is complete and because He is our Father we strive to better our relationship with Him. The worst son is the “prodigal son.” The “last becomes first….” This is Impartial Grace.

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