It is not simply enough to speak the truth; one must be living example of the word so all believers can reach for the highest possible level of holiness in God. In the decree of eternal judgment one must be an example for believers such as spoken to Timothy: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1Ti 4:12; Ph 3:17) One must speak and teach nothing but exacting truth of the word in both public and private relationships.
All actions and conversations must demonstrate the love of a spirit-filled man, no matter the testing of their faith by God or the persecutions of man. One must be living display of confidence in the infallibility of the word of God. There is to be a purity of both mind and spirit and nothing should transpire in your contacts with the opposite sex that could give rise to scandal. Such living example is taken to a higher level in fulfilling God’s command to obedience that demands the avenging of all disobedience.
Disobedience is the neglect or refusal to obey God’s word. It is the opposite of obedience meaning simply to hear God’s voice, to accept His authority and to do what He commands us to. Quite often we must just listen and do what we are told even when we do not comprehend fully why or have the human desire to want to be obedient. Sometimes you are not free to question pastoral authority but simply must “remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Heb 13:7) At such times you must simply emulate the righteous example that has been set for you. On occasions when the Spirit speaks to us to simply listen and obey we receive blessings and increase of faith for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(Ro 10:17) Obedience requires that we live a Holy life of separation unto God and His purposes through putting His desires first and doing things in the order that He wants them done. He is to be placed ahead of all our own desires and desired order of doing things. Jesus illuminated this fact in speaking to the men who wanted to take care of family matters before following Him in service: “And he said unto another, follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lu 9:59-62) Genuine obedience requires our compliance with God’s priority in all circumstance.
Avenge Versus Revenge
Given necessity for our obedience we must examine the matters of revenge, vengeance and chastisement for God states that you will have “a readiness to revenge all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” and He also states “dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (2Co 10:6; Ro 12:19) A sign of our maturity in obedience is evident when we are always ready to revenge all disobedience in relationship to taking action against “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”.(2Co 10:3-6) The meaning for revenge as used here is exactly the same as for vengeance where the Lord says ‘vengeance is mine’. Both words have implication of vindication, retribution, retaliation and punishment for wrongful actions or violations of the word of God. However, in our second scripture the Lord also states ‘if thine enemy hunger’ and ‘recompense no man evil for evil’ which gives us the key as to when we are to exact vengeance and when not. (Ro 12:17-20) We exact vengeance when evil manifests itself through attacks of the enemy upon our God and His holy word and we never retaliate in any manner to attacks of a carnal or human nature directed singularly toward ourselves. To avenge all disobedience toward God is a matter of righteous anger or wrath on our part but to revenge ourselves for unrighteous attacks toward us usurps the position of God and reflects carnal or unrighteous wrath rising in us, “seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.”(2Th 1:6) It is God’s role to vindicate us for he states “to me belongs vengeance and recompense” and also that “all things work together for our good”, so our simple rule is this: if the enemy attacks your God, go after him with a fury and avenge all disobedience to the degree spoken by the Holy Spirit; but if the enemy attacks you in any manner leave the matter completely in the hands of God where it belongs according to His word. This principle is illuminated clearly in the life of King David where he went after Goliath with a fury of vengeance for the insult to our God, but when he was attacked himself by the man throwing rocks and cursing him as he fled Jerusalem in the face of Absolom’s insurrection he simply did nothing. So the marked difference between our actions of Holy vengeance and carnal taking revenge is abundantly clear, as is the fact that while vengeance is God’s prerogative and perfect vengeance is an action that God carries out He gives the authority and power for this to us to execute in His behalf. He in fact states that when we do so in correct accord that it is a sign of our graduation to fullness of obedience. We know our authority to avenge all disobedience resides with us in Christ Jesus and such avenging as God deems necessary comprises part of our forgiving or binding people in their sins and is partial to our actions of calling for events to be halted or loosened here on earth and in the heavenly realm. (Jn 20:22-23, M’t 18:18-19) There are many degrees of disobedience from ignorant unknowing but wrongful actions to blatant rebellion and variant responses to such ranging from appeals for repentance to the absolute condemnation of death. All response on our part is dictated by the degree of the offense but if action is not taken by a person called of God to be the instrument of His avenging or correction they will find themselves resultantly in the position of the disobedient. One then becomes the object necessary of the Lord’s chastisement along with the one they have refused to avenge for their disobedience. I do not say this lightly, ‘it truly is better to beat them than to join them’ for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Pr 19:18; Hebrews 10:31)
Chastisement entails actions of correction, discipline, afflictions and punishment intended to rectify or to cure faults in moral conduct occasioned through error or deliberate sin, and such actions may include the infliction of emotional or physical pain. Chastisement is virtually a form of Christian discipline that regulates and moulds character and at all times is administered from a heart of love. At its basic level to discipline literally means to save the mind and is accomplished primarily through admonition and teaching correct Christian principles and habits of self-control. One does not chastise to create conduct based on fear but to edify and grow the Christian spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Ti 1:7) Chastisement can entail correction through physical discipline or bodily punishment and if necessary it is best applied as close as possible to the actual time of first misconduct, while there is hope, before the error becomes an evil habit.(Pr19:18) God tells us: “He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him betimes. For whom the Lord loves he corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Pr 13:24; 3:12) One does not love as the Lord when they refuse to physically correct their children and in fact damage them greatly through allowing obstinacy, pride, temper tantrums and all sorts of peevish disobedient behavior to engrain itself in their emotions, passions and lifestyle. The streets and churches are replete with such out of control animalistic behavior giving full proof that “the rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Apply thy heart unto instruction, and thy ears to the words of knowledge. Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.”(Pr 29:15; 22:15; 23:12-14) The streets of most major cities worldwide have packs of evil, hedonistic youth that, God willing, will start to encounter men of God like the prophet Elisha who wield the sword of the word correctly and they shall receive a sampling of God’s chastisement first hand. Read this account of how a man of God deals with out of control, disobedient Godless children for events similar and greater than are emerging on the stage today. Elisha was on his way to Bethel “and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.” (2Ki 2:23-25) Elisha never slowed down in his stride for “even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”(Pr 20:11) The days are upon us that those running for the prize of the high calling will accept their responsibility to chastise undisciplined children of those that have refused to do the task as spoken by God. Christian parents are the first line shepherds of their children and all I can say is woe be unto such shepherds for abusing what God has given them, for destroying His temple in any manner. As Jesus said: “whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) I have no words to describe the scourging you shall receive for refusing to discipline your children as God requires and scourge you He shall so you can remain eternal in heaven.
We now turn to proper congregational discipline which is of great importance for without it the church can become a meaningless organization with attitudes of anything goes, a structure in pursuit of bigger and busier occupations with good works that does not solve the problem of sin in the church or a legalistic jumble of man’s rules and regulations. Now, we are admonished to “take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12-13) In this light we adjure the older fools in our midst that a rod of correction is not simply for children as scripture states “a whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back: a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.” (Pr 26:3, 10:13) Rod means literally a stick for punishing, fighting, ruling or walking and fool is defined as a silly, stupid or perverse person. One must be extremely careful not to be pushed by emotion in applying the word fool to a fellow Christian for it has a range of meanings and Jesus warned us: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (M’t 5:21-22) Now the key term here is brother which means we are dealing with those within the church and not outside of it and the scriptural base or analogy from which Jesus was teaching us is the action of murder. But in our example we are dealing with emotionally charged words, not physical actions and our lesson in part surrounds “death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Pr 18:21) What we are dealing with is the abomination in the modern church world of rampant murder of the reputation of men of God. An abomination as used in most Hebrew words translated as such relates to things that are impure, unclean, filthy, foul-smelling, offensive, loathsome, objectionable, disgusting and deserving of the hatred expressed for them by our Holy God. People who become abominations to God range from idolaters to transgender dressers for “the woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (De 22:5) High on the list of the abominable to God are those that slaughter with their mouths for two of the seven abominations spoken to in Proverbs deal with such people of “a false witness that speak lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.” (Pr 6:19) This is reason such a strong warning surrounding language and our use of it is given by Jesus through talking about fools. Yet, we cannot allow the devil to instill a fear of being labeled legalists and continue to indulge undisciplined conduct about our assemblies which is completely out of accord with sound gospel doctrine if we are to cleanse ourselves and our gatherings of sin. We must use righteous judgment in all our ecclesiastical affairs and a good starting point is to discipline in the area of gossip, rumor and lies surrounding brothers in assembly for “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” (Pr 22:1) One should not be robbing brothers of their good name and in using the analogy that he did Jesus was speaking to our making proper use of the judgment of God and the differences in sins and application of judgment. He did so through referring to three levels of Jewish law practiced prior to the Romans removing such governing capacity from them. He spoke to the first level through relating to injurious actions occasioned through anger and punishable by death through strangulation by hanging. His second example surrounded using the term raca when addressing a brother for this was a very contemptible expression among the Jews that defined a man as vain, empty, worthless and brainless fool. Such scornful treatment must be guarded against for one is dealing with a son of God in some stage of growth if they are a brother. Christ said such action equated to the degree of murder that would place one in front of the great council, or Sanhedrin, who could sentence one to death through stoning. The third level of verbal assault spoken to by our Lord was of such offense to God that Jesus equated its punishment as being potentially as severe as burning in the fires of hell. He did not say they would be cast into the lake of fire but that the degree of potential chastisement or scourging would be as severe as being burnt to death and this was the severest degree of punishment existing under the Jewish law. The worst punishment he equated as necessary for vehemently stating to a brother ‘Thou fool’ for this term translated from moreh implied the greatest guilt there was in the minds of the Jews, that an individual was an apostate rebel against God and deserved the severest of punishments. Why is this so inappropriate an attitude for a Christian to have in exercising judgment as required by our God that it ranks with abomination to Him? It is largely because such judgment shows the one making it has lost or turned his back upon God’s righteousness and is incapable of maturing in His word. He has become so blinded by the enemy that in effect he has become of no use to the kingdom of God. This is visibly evidenced by the fact that ‘Thou fool’ is implying one to be devoid of all grace of God and no son of God is ever fully in such circumstance, for “I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”(1Co 12:3) Brothers have confessed and do confess Jesus Christ as their Lord no matter what step they may be making on their pathway of salvation and to call such a one a liar completely contradicts the word of God and is knowingly or unknowingly calling God a liar. Even the one making such abominable judgment is not devoid of God’s grace, for sons of God still have the grace of eternal salvation, but for certitude they face a severe scourge before they sit down in the kingdom of heaven. So in showing us this wrong judgment call, that all sins receive some form of chastisement, that some sins are worse than others and that we are accountable for every word and every judgment does it finally register that the refusal to judge as God does and to implement His commands for chastisement are every bit as rebellious in His mind? The stench is strong in our God’s nostrils when we refuse to exercise absolute and righteous judgment as He commands, when we do not use the power and authority He has given us through the sacrifice of His Son so we can mature. When we do not speak His Word in power it is a stink to Him and it is something He has stated will be removed through a nice cleansing “bath in fire” for all His children will be wearing white garments when they sit down in His kingdom of heaven. The wonder about our God is that he lets us draw our own bath water, so there is no use complaining about the temperature is there? “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” and remember “he that rebukes a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flatters with the tongue,” for “open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Jas 1:19; 28:23; 28:23; 27:5-6) I am your brother and the friend of our Lord Jesus Christ and tell you simply, ‘use your power and authority given by the Lord Jesus Christ from this day forward or lose your right to use it.’ If you are not prepared to exercise chastisements as directed by our Lord then you have already lost the rights that have been spoken to and this conversation will be meaningless to you at best.
Basic Reasons for God’s Chastisement
1. To reveal His love for us through correcting us. “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loves he corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Pr 3:11-12)
2. To show us He we are His beloved sons by cleansing us of sin. “My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (Heb12:5-6)
3. To bless us by teaching us His laws. “Blessed is the man whom thou chastens, O Lord, and teaches him out of thy law.” (Ps 94:12)
4. To lead us to times of prayer and supplication. “Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.” (Isa 26:16)
5. To humble us in preparation for blessings. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1Pe 5:5-6)
6. To lead us to repentance and zeal for His word. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” (Re 3:19)
7. So we can bare more fruit within the Kingdom of God. “Every branch in me that bears not fruit He takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (Jn 15:2)
8. To lead us to spiritual meditation and understanding of our relationship to God whereby we then desire to walk in obedience out of reverence for Him. “Thou shall also consider in thy heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the Lord thy God chastens thee. Therefore thou shall keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.”(De 8:5-6)
9. So we learn to judge ourselves and to keep us from the condemnation coming on the world. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1Co 11:31-32)
Ways of Avoiding Chastisement
It is not God’s desire to have to chastise any man but He instituted a covenant with Abraham that extends down through the tribe of Judah and unto the nations of the earth through which He is blessing all mankind. By this covenant the sons of God that came into being through our Lord Jesus became His own and remain so as does King David. In speaking of David and this covenant the primary reason for all chastisement is given when God says: “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” (Ps 89:30-34) There is a multitude of ways of avoiding the rod and the whip, some of which are summarized following from what has been discussed.
1. Exercise wisdom and understanding and place all thoughts under the control of Christ.
2. Obey the scriptures without any trace of stubbornness or rebellion.
3. Obey those in righteous authority without complaining, murmuring or disputing.
4. We must exercise righteous judgment of ourselves and among our assemblies.
5. Recognize the seriousness of lack of forgiveness in God’s eyes and follow all His statutes of reconciliation.
6. Give clear calls to repentance, speaking the truth of God without fear or favor, “for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1Co 14:8)
7. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and control your tongue through the power received. “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” (Psalms 32:9)
Four Primary Methods of Chastisement
The basic meaning of chastisement is to punish or to correct through punishment so remember one key fact in all chastisement is that God only chastises those He loves. He absolutely scatters and destroys His enemies for He casts “upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.” (Psalms 78:49) Four primary methods of chastisement remain:
1. Through educating and correcting with words of reproof or admonition, while “foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife’s.” (2Ti 2:23)
2. Through God inflicting spiritual evils and natural calamities. “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.” (Isa 45:7; 54:16; Am 3:6; Jer 40:3)
3. Excommunication through separation of the sinner from fellowship, as a “punishment, which was inflicted of many”, meaning the general assembly or congregation and through process outlined by Jesus. “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (2Co 2:6; M’t 18:15-19)
4. Through delivering a person “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1Co 5:5)
Turning Over To Satan for Chastisement
God may direct that His unrepentant and slow to obedience children be turned over to Satan for chastising through destruction of the flesh. Destruction entailed here means to ruin, destroy or annihilate the carnal flesh and mind through infliction of punishment by disease or death and is due to God’s grace in removing all sin from redeemed mankind. The inflicting of corporeal disease, sickness, pain or death for the ‘destruction of the flesh’ is a chastisement from God that is spoken by obedient servants under Holy Spirit direction, by which the body and mind of the sinner is literally handed over to the power of Satan for torture physically and mentally as a warning to all. In this process the eternal spirit is separated from the carnal flesh and mind and left spiritually pure through the actions of the accuser of the brethren. (Re12:10) This is totally a spiritual process and the chastising by Satan while agonizing may be gradual and escalate in intensity unless terminated through righteous repentance. This process is not a testing or trying of one by God as in the case of Job or Paul with his thorn in the flesh for neither was in deliberate separation from God. Neither does it have anything to do with actions that one takes in obedience to the command to “mortify the deeds of the body” through striving to separate from sin.(Ro 8:13) It is a circumstance of suffering through which a person is forced to a position of righteousness in the eyes of God and the mental or physical misery only ends when the righteousness required of God is achieved. There are many forms of chastisement designed to lead to repentance, but turning over to Satan seems to be the most severe as he is the epitome of evil, with a burning hatred of God’s children and opposite to all that is in any manner Holy. Being tossed into the hands of your worst eternal enemy to be tormented until you have an attitude change is indicative that this is probably the last redemptive measure in God’s arsenal of revealed options as we understand them. One must have climbed down to the very lowest rung on the ladder of God’s obedience or has refused to climb from the beginning to necessitate such corrective measure. When a son of God is required to take part in this redemptive measure of our Lord all they do is deliver the offender to Satan; they in no manner decree what actual chastisements will take place as in other formats where they exercise the chastising powers of God as they are required to. God may have revealed why the offender is being turned over to Satan and the purpose to be achieved but they in no manner dictate what the actual terms of chastisement will be. This is evidenced in the cases of Paul with the man in incestuous relationship at Corinth and that of Hymenaeus and Alexander. In the first instance he simply states the man is being delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. (1Co 5:5) In the second he talks of “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1Ti 1:20) Paul only speaks to the action of delivery and the fact he has been made God’s delivery boy in the events. This is not the same in cases where a son of God is using the absolute judgment of God and kingdom power given to “destroy the works of the devil.” (1Jn 3:8b) This is seen in Paul’s blinding of Elymas the Sorcerer (Barjesus) for actively trying “to pervert the right ways of the Lord”. (Ac 13:10) Paul judges him for his actions and dictates the terms of judgment, stating: “And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” (Ac 13:11) Take note, Satan had no part in this for it was the ‘hand of the Lord’ chastising through Paul and the chastisement was to bring Elymas to repentance for he was only blinded for a season and not destroyed as the enemy of God such as was Goliath. The devil was at work through the actions of Barjesus in a most blackened way as we see for Paul “filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Act 13:9-10) Paul recognized the presence of Satan and knew Elymas’ actions were those of a child of the devil, but he also saw Elymas was not of such unredeemable spiritual parentage due to the Lords treatment of himself. Paul likewise had been one that perverted the right ways of the Lord by unrighteous persecution of the followers of Jesus and had experienced his own blinding for a season, so it appears he simply applied the corrective measures to Elymas that had been applied to himself. Satan had no hand whatsoever in the chastisement of Paul or Elymas and through exercising his powers as a son of God Paul advanced the kingdom for “the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.”(Ac 13:12) When one is turned over to Satan for chastisement the kingdom here on earth is not advanced for God is simply using His choice of method for ensuring His covenant of the free gift of salvation is enacted. However, to this point in time the lesson that must once again be grasped is that in both delivery of the sinner to Satan and the action of such physical chastisement as blinding one is exercising powers and rights that belong only to God. Again, what does this make you if not a son of God learning to use His tools necessary for your maturing?
Curses and Turning
There are a variety of definitions for cursing, many of which entail the element of chastisement, but all appear to have a sinister connotation in them to a carnal mind. Truth is that the purpose for the curse spoken determines its essential nature, for God and the men of God frequently employ curses in the Biblical record, and in doing so curse means to pray against, to utter or to express a wish of mischief, injury or evil to another with the idea entailed of divine condemnation or vengeance on sinners. God pronounces righteous judgments through cursing such as when telling Adam because of his disobedience “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall thou eat of it all the days of thy life”. (Ge 3:17) God’s curses can vex or torment people with great calamities such as new worldwide pestilences, diseases and climatic disasters but regardless of enormity of impact such curses are always righteously spoken because of man’s disobedience. Jesus teaches us many lessons through cursing the fig tree for its barrenness but priority for us at this time is to see the absoluteness in speaking a curse and power indwelling unwavering faith. Jesus in transit and hungry “saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, how soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (M’t 21:19-22) A curse has within it an inherent power of self-realization and once uttered possess the power of carrying itself into effect. When spoken it does not return void and if you are truly of God, speaking His words under Holy Spirit leading your utterances are fulfilled as well. We see this ‘self-fulfilling’ in the immediate results of Elisha cursing the children in the name of the Lord for their mockery of God and his pronouncement of leprosy upon his servant Geheza for his deceit in doing the work of God. (2Ki 2:24; 5:27) Scripture states “cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keeps back his sword from blood”. Geheza was immediately cursed with Elisha’s pronouncement that “the leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.” (Jer 48:10) So do not think a curse has some element of wishful thinking in it, no more than does the pronouncement of a blessing, for both are decrees of enactment taking place through the power of God being righteously employed. Cursing as we have seen in these examples is not an action of turning over to Satan for chastisement in any manner.
Jesus taught a great deal about uttering curses, making certain the sons of God knew when and how they were to be employed in carrying forward the advancing Kingdom. An example of being commanded to curse through actions is stated in the instructions given by Jesus when sending forth his disciples: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Mark 6:11) The Biblical records show us how unrighteous Sodom and Gomorrah were and the judgment with fire and brimstone that destroyed them, so the action of complete rejection of God’s messengers, in effect God himself, is what is highlighted here. The stamping off of the dust signified an absolute disconnection with the individuals or cities that were being cursed in such manner, for it is a curse of divine judgment to be facing a fate worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. Such cursing does not have the immediacy of result such as we saw with the examples of Elisha for its finality of sentence execution is at the future Great White Throne judgment, but the sentence is irrevocable at the time of utterance by the actions. As well, we are given many examples and commands of when not to curse such as: “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not” and “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Ro 12:14; Matt 5:44) It is evident that the sons of God must speak judgment in doing God’s good works, and that such judgment calls cannot be avoided and should never be dealt with lightly. It is never to be the consequence of personal passions or petty carnal revenge and to use it in such manner is to pull a judgment of severe consequence upon oneself. God speaks this in many places within the Bible, one of which is when He said: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” (De 11:26-28) This is not a time to be turning toward gods of prideful intellectual prowess and carnal understanding but rather of humbling ourselves before God. If you cannot accept the command to turn over to Satan or to utter curses then you have in effect chosen a path of disobedience and one curse that comes from it is not being able to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit necessary to being able to run the race to win it. Perhaps my words have simply explained your fate and you are presently being handed over to Satan for chastisement by God as you read these lines, as you have been fully informed and given your final admonition through these writings. I have not been told to deliver you into Satan’s hands, only to cry out the message you have heard; but I have been tested by my Lord through having to deliver two of my immediate family members into Satan’s hands for chastisement, so I have experienced the reality of such an action first hand. Similar experience has taken place for a Malaysian Pastor acquaintance of mine whose testimony you should read before we carry forward.
The Testimony of Pastor Susan Tang, Station Of Life, Sabah, East Malaysia
“I have also seen the Book of Acts come alive in the area of God’s judgment and chastisement and I fear him. Twice I have taken authority and uttered His judgment and chastisement through my mouth. The results were so awesome it took me some time to get over them. Two individuals, a brother and a sister, had stood in the way of God’s work. There was no way, literally no way, I could have remained in Sabah to continue the work if they had not been removed. I delivered the brother into the hands of Satan and some days later he lost his mind.(1Co 5:5) He has remained in that condition until this day. In the second incident, I delivered a sister into sickness and death. She became sick and died two weeks later. It was frightening. The brother had been a Bible school student who had been manifesting evident gifts of the spirit and the sister had been one of my trusted workers. I was shattered.
Do you think I felt elated because God vindicated me? Oh no! My heart broke and I cried like a bull. A visiting pastor had to come against the spirit of grief in me. I did not feel that God loved me more and loved them less. No! No! I felt deeply in my heart that He had a work for me to do in Sabbah and He would not permit anyone to rip it apart either by action or by malicious gossip. I saw and understood the meaning of ‘God is a consuming fire’. I feared him. I feared Him like I had never feared Him before. Like king David in 1 Chronicles 13:12, I am glad that that He allowed me to see and experience this aspect of Him, that He who is perfect in love is also perfect in wrath!” S. Tang
And to the foregoing I say Amen for you are “in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2Co 10:6) You cannot dictate to God the manner He chooses to raise you as a son and to do so will rob you of Kingdom position and Him of glory. “What man is he that fears the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.” (Ps 25:12) Some ways are easy and some are hard but all require obedience to His will and the submission of your own.
The Return to Turning Over
We are going to peruse the two instances of Paul turning men over to Satan for chastisement that were mentioned earlier to better understand the role you may be called to play in the advancing Kingdom. In examining the situation of the man involved in incestuous relationship at Corinth I find three matters that must be mentioned. First is the matter of timing or knowing when to turn one over to Satan. Second, is the issue of the assembly refusing to discipline itself so that Paul had to be deal with both the assembly and the incest, and third is some results of the actual turning over of the unrepentant individual.
In the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul evidences the problem of the proud spirited or puffed up congregation at Corinth under the sway of intellectual self-sufficiency. He reminds them of the authority of his office and warns them that it is their choice how they shall be dealt with through the power of God he wields “for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”(1Co 4:18-21) The early church experienced first-hand the reality of such power of punishment inflicted upon transgressors such as Elymas, Alexander and Ananias and his wife by those in authority such as Paul and knew this to be no idle threat, but simply a statement of fact. With his warning Paul was essentially giving them a final opportunity to correct their aberrant behavior in private and in public assembly. In 2 Corinthians the apostle gives them further admonition to self-examination and repentance, again warning about non-compliance. Paul states: “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.” (2Co 13:1-4) The apostle also makes it clear to the Corinthians that he does not have to be present in person to exercise his authority to discipline by dealing with the man in the incestuous relationship in their congregation in the manner that he does. Paul states the case as his having ‘judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed’ and that he has delivered ‘such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’ (1Co 5:1-5) The timing of the turning over to Satan of some errant soul is totally dependent upon the speaking of the Holy Spirit to carry out the action and does not have a procedural guideline such as Jesus outlined for dealing with offenses between brothers or matters requiring discipline by the general assembly. The only mention Paul makes of needing witnesses of confirmation or times of warning surrounding the issue of the man in incest is in relation to the fact that the assembly did not discipline itself properly and was guilty of his charges that “ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”(1Co 5:2,12-13) The fact is that if the sinner of concern had been handled correctly there would have been either repentance or separation according to the Word and no need occasioned for Paul’s action. So we have the dual lesson of Paul having to discipline the assembly through rebuke and admonition for inaction and having to turn the man over to Satan occasioned through his action of unbridled incest. Such turning over to Satan is not a group action or consensus but is empowerment to a specific act by individuals spoken to directly by God. In writing to Corinth Paul states ‘I have judged (decided, condemned, punished, avenged) already’ the guilty person will be turned over to Satan the next time ‘when ye are gathered together’.(1Co5:1-5) Obviously whatever occasioned to the man at their next gathering had great impact on the Corinthians given the record of repentance and actions of self-cleansing that occasioned through their assembly disciplining as a group according to the Word. He speaks to one such group action toward an unnamed individual where he states “sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.” (2Co 2:6) This is not the individual turned over to Satan for he was turned over by Paul alone, but this other person is evidence of the results of Paul’s obedience in wielding all authority given him through Jesus. Paul was prepared to avenge all disobedience in the assemblies he was given spiritual oversight of and Corinth knew this when he spoke without fear or favor. What may have looked like a harsh action in delivery of one to Satan and sounded threatening in form of rebuke for their many sins were for certitude God’s expressed will and for Paul to compromise in either area would have placed him in direct disobedience and the Corinthians at a loss. Paul’s handling of the matter of incest and general lack of church discipline drove the Corinthians to a Godly sorrow of repentance Paul sums up as follows: “For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.” (2Co 7:11-12) The action God had Paul take in turning one member over to Satan appears to have shocked people to action respecting the many sins that had overtaken their assembly in spite of the fact they were blessed by God ‘in all utterance, and in all knowledge, coming behind in no gifts’ of the Holy Spirit. (1Co 1:5-7) We have many individuals and assemblies in similar circumstance to Corinth in our modern church. They are blind to the fact that in spite of the presence of manifesting gifts of the Spirit God does not condone the blatant forms of sin they accept in their midst and the sons of God are to call them to correction or suffer chastisement themselves. I pray that in the days upon us we see the same repentance as Corinth when brothers surrounding us are turned over to Satan for chastisement and that we do not view more fleeing in fear from obedience to our God.
We are now going to encounter Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul “delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1Ti 1:20) Paul states the two were formerly true believers that put away their faith and were uttering heresy by saying “the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”(1Ti 1:19; 2Ti 2:18) Faith in its simplest sense is belief in God and the scriptures. Whereas, to blaspheme or utter blasphemy is to speak impiously, to defame, to revile, to rail at, to speak evilly, abusively, reproachfully or irreverently of our Holy God. One would think that such conduct toward God would lead to eternal separation from Him for “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man.” (Matt 15:18-20) But such defilement as the blasphemy committed by Hymenaeus and Alexander surrounding the resurrection is cleansable for they were to undergo chastisement by Satan so they would learn not to do such. Jesus has stated that “all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith so ever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30) It would seem that given such admonition that the two men were not ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit being evidenced through Paul to demonic influences, but had for whatever reason shut their minds to such evidences of God’s presence, to determinedly pursue a prideful need to appear doctrinally correct with men. We know that Hymenaeus was causing people to fall in their faith through the teaching of wrong doctrine which he had fallen victim to himself. (2Ti 2:17-18) There are many like Hymenaeus spread like poison throughout the denominational church world, such men are supporting the advancement of the homosexual agenda to the pulpit, same sex marriage and other perversions within the modern church. We are to shun such “profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” but still many parishioners are trapped in aberrant doctrines and dupes of the devil as is Hymenaeus. (2Ti 2:16) Yet, the position of Alexander the coppersmith seems much worse to our thinking because he was actively opposing the work of God through Paul. However both men were equally turned over to Satan to ‘learn not to blaspheme’ making it obvious the Spirit had spoken to Paul why he was to deliver them in the manner he did. We know both men were speaking heresy and causing people to fall from their faith and we know that Alexander was the more vigorous in his opposition to Paul through the apostle declaring: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.” (1Ti 1:19-20; 2Ti 4:14-15, Ac 19:33-34) It is also evident that the men had active disciples for scripture states “their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are his. And, let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Ti 2:17-19) It is with Philetus that we again see the Lord judging according to works, for Philetus obviously was only a follower spreading the cancer coming through his teacher Hymenaeus for the man is not turned over for chastisement with the two leaders of concern. Grasp this fact you that have been caught into aberrant doctrines and are following the vain jangling and traditions of men before it is too late for you as well and God dictates you are handed over to Satan for cleansing and perhaps the most severe destructions of the flesh. There is a point where the disciple becomes as his master, as his teacher and if you cross that line in support of false teachers you will not be as fortunate as Philetus, for he obviously did not cross a boundary drawn by God. So, do not cross that point yourself through stubborn pride. If you are naming Christ as your messiah and eternal Lord depart from the iniquity of denying God his walk of perfection and manifesting the fullness of His power through your life. We repeat: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Matt 5:48; Ro 12:2)
Every word that passes persons’ lips should bring glory unto our God and does so when one walks in complete submission to the mind of Christ. And while there is a state of perfection for us to live within and manifest that is flawless as is the life of Christ, the fact remains that the powers we have looked at have manifested through flawed vessels. The holy men of the Bible were not infallible for we see Peter ‘fearing them which were of the circumcision’ and thus causing dissimulation leading to his rebuke by Paul at Antioch.(Gal 2:11-21) We read of Elijah succumbing to fear of Jezebel and ending in temporary depression and requesting God “take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”(1Ki 19:3-4) This is the same man that was of one mind with God in his abhorrence of apostasy and prayed that the national sins of idolatry in Israel would be exterminated and the nation punished for its behavior. His prayer was answered upon the nation and resulted in the three year drought that tormented Israel and ended with his slaughter of the 450 prophets of Baal and yet he was not infallible. (1Ki 18) So do not allow the enemy to keep you from exercising the powers of God because you also know yourself to be a flawed vessel and may fall victim to a carnal mind of fear or temporary depression. “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserves the souls of his saints; he delivers them out of the hand of the wicked” and there is absolutely nothing to fear in using what God has given you.(Ps 97:10) The Bible states “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”(Pr 8:13) The time has come for sons of God to at least rise to the level of using the powers given and shown in the Bible. Like Elijah we must get specific in prayer and direct judgment and chastisement toward areas of evil national apostasy until repentance or God’s purposes otherwise draws it to a halt. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”(Pr 3:6)
As His sons everything used in Kingdom advancement has been given by Him, with perhaps the most important gift being control over our tongues for “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”(Jmaes 3:8) If God had not already placed this member under your control through the power of the Holy Spirit that indwells you, it would be impossible for you to confess anything of righteousness, but given you have such control you must daily exercise its power. Do so remembering that this control is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. For it is God that works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.” (Zec 4:6; Ph 2:13) We must stand firm in this heritage of righteousness that was bought for us with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, using what we have been given and move into the finality of the perfection that is in Christ to manifest fully as the sons we are. Your righteousness and your heritage is of God and “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” (Isa 54:17; 45:24) It is God that will justify you standing firm in the knowledge that you are a god being you are His son as the Word clearly states you are. He will justify you as you use the tools He has given you and not before you do, so use the power of life and death you control through your tongue by speaking spiritual life and maturity for yourself. Confess an alignment with the truth of God’s word surrounding what His dictates are surrounding the taking and restoring of life.