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Daily Devotion for July 30, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Help with Our Troubles
O God, my help and assistance, who is just and merciful, and who hears the supplications of your people; look down upon me, a miserable sinner. Have mercy upon me; deliver me from all the troubles and tribulations of life. Deal not with me after my sins, I pray, but according to your measureless mercy, for I am the work of your hands, and you know my weakness.
Grant me, I beseech you, your divine helping grace. Endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering. I flee to you, my only hope and refuge, for relief and comfort, trusting to your infinite love and compassion; that in due time, you will deliver me from all the trials of this life and turn my distress into comfort. I rejoice in your mercy. I exalt and praise your holy name, oh Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever.
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word that we may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust."
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Notes on the Scripture
Although we are not given many details, the use of the present tense of "to have" — the man in question "has" his stepmother — shows that this is an ongoing relationship. In more modern terms, they are living in sin. Also, apparently, the Corinthians hold the man in some sort of esteem. The others are reluctant to speak against him. Some no doubt accept the situation, and others feel as if they should not or cannot speak up.
But Paul has no such reluctance! He tells them he is present in spirit. Note, Paul does not mean he has some sort of doppelganger, a resident ghost he sends out to do his work. He means just what we would mean, today, if we say we are with someone in spirit. He is thinking about them and his letter is with them. The Corinthians, when assembled, will have his epistle to bolster their own spirits and give them the support they need.
The passage is easily misread in another, even more important aspect. When Paul tells the Corinthians to deliver the man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, we might conjure up images of the Inquisition; but nothing in all his work hints that this is his meaning. He means, rather, that they are not to let him into their worship services or treat him as a member of the Christian community.
The man has cut himself off from Christ by his open, continuous and unrepentant sin. He is poisoning the church, for toleration quickly becomes acceptance. Rather than being raised up by his brothers, they are letting him pull them down.
The man has given himself to Satan, and the destruction of the flesh is the natural and normal result of sin. Perhaps this would be better translated, "destruction by the flesh", for we destroy our most central selves, our souls, when we serve the lusts of the flesh rather than the love of God through Christ.
What Paul demands is what would later become known as excommunication. It is not a punitive measure; it is a correction given by the church in hopes that his soul can yet be saved. For to continue to turn a blind eye to such egregious and unrepentant sin would not help the man or the church, either one. Better it is that he be given full rain to destroy himself, in hopes of repentance, than to allow him to live in self-deception.