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"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you." 1st Corinthians 5:1-2 Has there ever been an age in which there has been more sexual immorality not only in the world, but also in the church? One could say to Paul, "You think that's bad, Paul? They're ordaining homosexual women pastors in the churches now!" Paul would roll over in his grave. How has it come to this? How could it possibly come to this? And the answer is because it has been allowed to. A fact of life is that evil can only go as far as it is allowed to. The Scripture shows how sexual immorality in the church MUST be dealt with: vs 5: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Does that seem unmerciful? But it isn't. If that man is left to himself, he will be lost. Here, Paul says that the way this kind of thing must be treated is severe or the man is lost, but if it's dealt with correctly there is hope for the man. First, he has to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. When a man in authority delivers someone over to Satan, the one delivered is going to learn what it is to be destroyed. Only then, only when he's been brought down low and lost everything, only when Satan is through with him, only then is there hope of repentance. Left to himself, there is no hope for him. If we read further in Corinthians we find that indeed, the man did come to repentance in the end and Paul urged the church to receive him back and love him. Friends, God's ways are deadly serious. But they're not taken seriously anymore. We live in an age in which it's all about tolerance. Anything goes, don't judge anyone or anything, you do your thing and I'll do mine. Evil is so pervasive that we've become desensitized to it. If a man and a woman are "living together," it just doesn't carry the same stigma anymore that it once did. Even in the church, it might be frowned upon but it's rarely condemned. People look the other way. It's just not so bad, is it? Yes, it is. Not because anyone says so, but because God says so and we need to take him seriously, and that's what's lacking in the churches today. Because of desensitizing, we look away, we don't take it seriously anymore, we get used to sin, so we overlook it. God doesn't. Pray for the pastors in your area. They are under tremendous stress and public opinion is often against them. If according to the Word of God, your pastor needed to take a stand on someone in the church as in the passage above, would he have the courage to do so? Few would, these days. And that's why sin is running rampant in the churches. Because it's allowed to.

"Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holy name, for his anger is but for a moment, his favor is for life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:4-5 His anger is but for a moment… We are a fallen people born to fallen parents into a fallen world. And without discipline we stay that way. It takes the training of the Lord to mature us. "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him; for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 It's vitally important to remember that the discipline of the Lord does not separate us from his love. He disciplines us from a heart of Fatherly love, and his goal is to transform us into a mature and godly people. It is the hard things in life that teach us what we need to learn and establish in us correct priorities. vs 11: "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." The discipline is not forever, but only until the purpose has been met. Afterwards, the mercy and love of God is lavished upon us and truly "joy comes in the morning." "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever." Psalm 30:11-12 It truly is the love of God that applies what is needed to transform us. Even in the world, we've all seen the results when parents withhold discipline from their children. We've all seen "spoiled brats," and it's ugly isn’t it! God our Father knows each believer's makeup and he knows just what each one needs to prevent that. When it is finished, we are left singing praise to the Father who loves us, the Father who loves us too much to leave us the way we are. Do not resist God's discipline, there is nothing to gain from resisting except bitterness towards God. Embrace God's discipline rather, and pray for grace to truly cooperate with God and learn the lessons in your story, lessons that will lead you to a closer, more intimate fellowship with your Redeemer who loves you with an everlasting love. Later you will praise him for that discipline and realize that God is faithful who brought you through it, and you'll understand that he loves you too much to leave you the way you are. "Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed." Hebrews 12:12-13

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him." Proverbs 24:17-18 Human nature desires justice and vengeance, but the unwise do not stop to think that they too are deserving of punishment. We are all alike, born sinners, born with a fallen human nature, born to fallen parents, born into a fallen world, hurt by various fallen people, victims of victims, suffering injustice, and all of these things fostering bitterness in us and drawing us into further sin, the sins of hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness. The Word of God says we are all in the same boat, that there is not one of us who is righteous. "There is none righteous, no, not one;" Romans 3:19 Believers are called to a higher place, one that recognizes the pathetic path of the wicked, knowing that only by the grace of God are we not on that same path. Like them, we were born sinners, and only by the grace of God are we spared. "If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" Psalm 130:3 Rather than nurture a desire for vengeance, consider the end of the wicked. If one truly understood their end, they would drop all desire for vengeance. The Word of God tells us about hell, that it is forever, that it is a place of great suffering, torment, and eternal regret. One who truly understands this wouldn't want it for his worst enemy. It's awful. It's terrible. It's an eternity of suffering without hope of escape. When someone hurts you, take that as a signal that God wants you to pray for that person. You might be the only one on earth praying for him/her. Your prayers could change his or her eternal destiny. The more hateful they are, the more they NEED your prayers. Indeed, that was where we were headed too, before the Lord showed us his salvation and revealed to us his Son who came to this earth to take upon himself the judgment due us because of our sins. We are no better than the wicked, except that we have a Redeemer. That's the only difference. Without the atonement Christ accomplished for us, we too would be headed for hell. Therefore, let us have sympathy for those whose hearts have not been changed, let us pray for them instead of hating them. Let us be kind to them, considering that we could easily have been in their shoes. Let us do all we can, fasting and praying that they might have their eyes opened to see their hopeless state and to turn their hearts to the Redeemer that they too might have the hope of eternal life. If they claim to be believers, intercede for them that they might be set free from whatever evil thing that dwells within them. They truly need your prayers, if only you are willing. "As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.'" Ezekiel:11 Amen! Let this be not only our attitude, but our heart too. Father God, please put your mercy into my heart, mercy for the hateful, mercy for the cruel, mercy for the hopeless. It could so easily have been me.

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