The Very Sufferings of Christian Sinners May be Overruled unto Sanctifying
1 Corinthians 5:5
To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

On the precise meanings and references of the terms and figures used in this verse, the exegetical portion of the Commentary should be consulted. Some suppose that a temporal judgment, sickness, or loss, followed on the excommunication of this offender (as in the cases of Ananias, Elymas, etc.), and that such suffering became disciplinary, and resulted in the man's full moral recovery. "As a man soweth, thus shall he also reap;" and we need only explain the term "deliver unto Satan" as meaning, leave the man to the consequences naturally and necessarily following on his sin; the very first of these consequences being his separation from Christian fellowship and Christian privileges. "It should be carefully noticed that it is not the body, but the flesh, that is, the carnal appetite, that is to be destroyed by the chastisement." F. W. Robertson says, "Here the peculiarly merciful character of Christianity comes forth; the Church was never to give over the hope of recovering the fallen. Punishment, then, here is remedial. If St. Paul punished, it was that the 'spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.' And hence (putting capital punishment out of the present question) to shut the door of repentance upon any sin, to make outcasts forever, and thus to produce despair, is contrary to the idea of the Church of Christ, and alien from his spirit." Unfold and illustrate both from Scripture and modern life -

I. HOW CERTAINLY ALL SIN, UNCHECKED, BEARS ITS FRUITAGE OF SUFFERING. There may be even prolonged delay, and consequent presumption in keeping on in sin. But the suffering comes at last; it is certain as the returning harvest. Take two cases.

1. The familiar one of the drunkard. Want cometh, on him and his, as an armed man.

2. The dishonest. A man placed in a position of trust embezzles secretly for years; at last, just as his children are on the threshold of manhood and womanhood, ruin and shame come on them; flight, desolation, misery, and the exile's poverty for him. Man cannot take "fire into his bosom and not be burned; nor can he touch pitch and fail to be defiled." The laws of heredity being now better understood, we can feel more deeply how a man's sins can carry a burden of suffering, even to the innocent unborn generations.

II. HOW, FOR THE ERRING CHRISTIAN, SUCH NECESSARY SUFFERING OR SUCH DIRECT DIVINE JUDGMENT MAY BE REMEDIAL. Illustration may be taken from David's experience, as indicated in his words, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now will I keep thy Word." Explain the process by which, under God, suffering influences the views and feelings of the erring Christian; but point out carefully how suffering affects differently the good and the bad man. It tends rather to harden the bad, because it seems to him mere loss and disability. It softens and humbles the Christian, because by him it is known as the heavenly Father's chastening hand. Show how the sanctifying discipline of suffering is shown in the very story of our human race. The "day of the Lord Jesus" may be conceived as the time when a man's life story is complete; then it can come into consideration and judgment. Then it may be seen that, through all the sufferings that followed upon the soilings, "the spirit has been saved." Press that "delivering over to Satan" does not put the erring one out of Christ's loving thought and care, and therefore it should never put him out of our Christian interest and prayer and sympathy. We must ever keep his welcome back awaiting him. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: 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.

Absent in Body, But Present in Spirit
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