God Is Not Weak
Paul was about to visit the church in Corinth for a third time. He did not want to confront the believers in Corinth over their sin, but if they were not repentant, he had no option. He had sent warnings in at least two previous letters as well as in person. Yet at least some had ignored them, rendering the church an embarrassment to the body of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). It was not good for the witness of the gospel, nor for the spiritual health of those who dissented from Paul's teaching. Worst of all, God was grieved by their sin.
The problem was compounded by the false teachers who ridiculed Paul's authority and claimed that God did not speak through him (2 Corinthians 11:4-6). That helped the rebellious-spirited sinners to discount the warnings and Paul's teaching – even though he was personally commissioned by the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:1). The rebels assumed that Paul had no power (according to them) so they could do whatever they liked with impunity.
But God is not weak. Those who sinned did not violate Paul, but God. He has the right, and nobody can stop Him exercising His power over those who deliberately sin and refuse to repent (Galatians 6:7). And Paul would not hesitate to be God's agent of discipline if that was needed. He did not say how this might be done, but Paul had first-hand evidence of God's power – being struck blind for failing to recognise that he was persecuting Jesus (Acts 22:9-11). Jesus was weak, allowing Himself to be crucified; but His resurrection powerfully declared that He was so much stronger than His accusers. In the same way, God's servants are weak, but when God chooses to act through them, they have His strength.
As parents long that their children grow up to be healthy and good, so church leaders long for the people under their care that they will grow well in Christ and learn to follow Him with all of their hearts. When they refuse to accept apostolic teaching and choose a lifestyle which the Bible condemns, it is right that they are disciplined. Such action is not vindictive but designed to bring a godly sorrow which leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Like all discipline, it must be restorative if it is to be godly. It is designed to help us in our struggle against sin so that healing can come (Hebrews 12:4-13). Alas some parents and leaders find it so hard to exercise discipline because they are afraid of offending people. Other leaders and parents are so harsh that people live in fear of them; behaviour may change but people without love rarely change hearts.
© Dr Paul Adams