Recently I’ve had what I will refer to as a spiritual butt whooping. It sounds funny, but I certainly mean it in all seriousness. I’ve had a problem for a long time about which I would rather not divulge the details, but the experience is something that may prove helpful for someone else out there.
God has been steadily bringing me under conviction for a while, but the past several days have been more so than usual. It all finally came to a head and I realized I am guilty. Guilty of dishonoring the spirit which I was gifted. Guilty of all sorts of depravity. Guilty of repeating the same sins from which I had been freed long ago. I have fed the flesh instead of the spirit and while, thankfully, it hasn’t knowingly affected my earthly life it has had a devastating impact upon my spiritual life.
It all started with a little slackness. I skipped the morning’s time with God – I’m was late for work and/or I too busy. That goes on for a little while, seemingly with no consequences. Then another thing gets dropped, and then another, and then another, until one day I realized I was almost completely removed from God. He’s been handing me over little by little to my fleshly desires until they consumed me as they did before I accepted Him as Savior. Then I began to wonder if these verses applied to me:
“…for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”” – 2 Peter 2:19-22
Whew, that’s harsh! But it is true, and had I not been absolutely confirmed in my salvation I would have thought it was lost again, for once these verses sunk in I felt a heavier burden than ever before. I began to think “am I like Ananias? Have I so wronged God that He would kill me?”
“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.” – 1 Corinthians 5:5 (note that this verse is not about Ananias, but another offending believer)
The verse is in the context of dealing with people in the church who have been admonished and refuse to repent. They should be kicked out, thereby separating them from God’s people and preventing their sin from permeating the rest of the body. The person may then realize his condition and come back to God begging for his mercy. And this is what has happened to me. I didn’t get kicked out of the church, for my sin was not perceivable except to God and perhaps the most discerning of the saints. But God had kicked me out of His fellowship and gave me a stark reminder of that “…Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
The term “destruction” in 1 Corinthians 5:5 is our translation of the Greek word “olethros” meaning:
ruin, destroy, death
for the destruction of the flesh, said of the external ills and troubles by which the lusts of the flesh are subdued and destroyed http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3639&t=NASB
So this death is initially the metaphysical death of the flesh, but if left unattended to can become physical (see here for clarification and further explanation – http://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ7811/handed-over-to-satan). Now, don’t take this lightly – this is incredibly serious! God rebuked me, as I’m sure He has done countless times for others, and to me it felt like I was going to die where I stood. I am not being hyperbolic, I sincerely felt that way; I wanted to throw up. I had a real, honest to goodness, ‘come to Jesus meeting’ and it was certainly no fun at all.
I know my salvation is secure, and so is yours if you have it. However, at times when we are not careful we can still fit the descriptions of those in the Bible who are heading for eternal damnation. And with this condemnation from my Lord I started wondering how I should be restored and here it is:
“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death…” – 1 John 5:16
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:1–2
Confess to a friend, one you trust, and have him make an intercession for you. I did just that, and I am so blessed to have a friend (even though I have never met him because of the digital age) whom I trust in his character and relationship with Christ. I gave him the verse I was guilty of and asked him to pray for me, which I am convinced he did almost immediately, for soon thereafter the weight was lifted as if Jesus was saying to me “I think you have learned your lesson today.” Afterwards I felt like a child who had just gotten a serious spanking. The panic and emotion were unreal and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
But just like my father told me as a child after it was all over, “son, I don’t do this to hurt you. I do it because I love you.” And here I am with God doing the same thing to me all because He loves me with an undying love. Had it not been for my dad I don’t know that I would understand this now. I praise God for my earthly father who set me straight time and time again when I was young and gave me the ability to process this emotion.
“…“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
6FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
7It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” – Hebrews 12:5-11
I can personally attest to the truth of this passage several times over. Now, to move forward, and remember what I have learned, and to keep the Lord’s commandments so that I may not fall into the devil’s traps. God bless.