What Does it Mean to be Delivered Unto Satan?
By Rev. D. Earl Cripe, Ph.D.
I Cor 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I Cor 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
There is only one thing to do with men engaged in seriously evil behavior, where the Fellowship of the brotherhood is concerned. Put them out of that church. Do it with the authority and the power of Christ. Do it in consistency with the attitude and the spirit of godly men. Do not protect this man or try to defend him in any way. Do not feel sorry for him as if he were a poor, misled and misguided person who needs to be understood. If we cannot protect the moral purity of the church, then what can we do?
Furthermore, it is for the good of the person involved. If we put him out of the church (and we must if we are to be right in the sight of God), he will not enjoy the emotional and social comradery of his religious friends. He will be isolated in a lonely world that he has brought upon himself by his own guilt and behavior. Even so, that is the only kind of treatment that will cause this man to see the dreadful error of his ways and repent. He will not be able to turn back the clock or the calendar. He will not be able to get the life back that he threw away, but hopefully he will come around to the right way of thinking, and the right way of behaving in the end. That is far preferable to the man living out his days in the church, corrupting the purity of God’s house, and the morals of those around him; never being convicted and making amendment for his misbehavior.
Delivered to Satan
It has sometimes been asked what the strange language means exactly that it says that the flesh is destroyed by Satan, but the spirit is saved. It is a Sanctification message, and the answer is simple when it is placed in the right context.
Those who do evil cannot, and will not, receive the protection of God. If they want to destroy their lives, God will let them do it, and the devil will be only too happy to accommodate. Even so, every act of discipline has the goal of restoration in view. If we are wrong, we must feel guilty. If others are overtly wrong (as in this case, where it is not a hard call to make), then it is our duty to make them feel guilty. There must be basic conflicts. We want to see the man restored. We do not have the power to remove the consequences in his life of the things that he has done; but we do have a petition with God to try to help him get straightened out, so that before life is over, he can get right with God. It is most important that everyone in the church, from the children on up, know that this man was wrong, that the Church did not countenance his wrong, and the conviction that righteousness was able to bring upon his heart and mind resulted in his restoration.
He May Never Return
Someone may say that the man may not receive the discipline, and may never be restored. In this case, we know better. But even if that were the truth, taking a stand against moral turpitude in the Church is worth doing for its own sake; and the moral purity of the Church must be preserved. It is simply wrong to take the modern, libertine attitude of the rebellious member and sacrifice the Church and her moral creeds upon the altar of this man’s supposed emotional, psychological and social needs.
But is it not good to comfort and console such a man, and to let him know that even though he is wrong, we love him, and are not going to abandon him? No, the Apostle says, it is not good. It is like a rotten apple in a barrel. If you do not get it out and throw it away, it will not be long until all the apples in the barrel are rotten. It is like a little yeast in a big lump of dough. If the yeast is left in the dough, and is permitted to do its work, the whole lump will soon be puffed up.