I would guess if there’s one thing in life I’ve had the most difficult time understanding, it’s what the definition of love really is. I would probably also guess at this point I’m hearing a resounding “I coulda told ya that!” from my wife. Probably a lot of other wives would say the same thing about their husbands. I mean, after all, is love a feeling? Is it an action? Is it both?
I certainly agree that I’m the last person to be able to describe or even define what true love is. However, I do know that true Biblical love is probably far beyond what any of us can come to truly comprehend. But in Jesus, we do see what God intends to be true love. We can look to the Bible and get at least a definition of the framework of what love is to be like. Sometimes we see acts of love in the Bible that’s so beyond what we expect that it’s hard for our finite minds to process it.
Take for example, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. So many questions come to mind if you pause to ponder God’s purpose behind Jesus’ death. Questions that can’t be answered any other way than: True Love.
For years I read and tried to understand the passages of scriptures below (emphasis mine):
3 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. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 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. (1Cor 5:3-5, ESV)
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Tim 1:18-20)
Notice the emphasized parts of the verses above. I thought we were to keep people away from satan? Why would a Christian ever hand a man over to satan? What does “handing someone over to satan” even mean?
The Pyromaniacs Blog recently wrote an article on this here, which is what brought this back up in my mind again. It’s a good illustration of what Paul is trying to get across in the verses above.
For many years now I’ve wondered why I see so many Christian families with seemingly utter chaos within their families. Drug abuse, premarital sex, pornography, repeated divorce, chaotic financial decisions, and on an on the list goes. This same thing is even common in “church families”.
It’s generally played out in a situation such as this: Bob was into sex, drugs, and rock-n-Roll until he gave his heart to Jesus. Bob’s life was cleaned up for a long time until he fell back into it all again. Then one Easter Sunday Bob, at the end of his rope and attending church with his momma, makes the walk to the altar and “re-dedicates” his heart to Jesus. The cycle repeats itself all of Bob’s life. All along, Bob’s family knows Bob is a Christian who’ just backslides occasionally.
All along Bob thinks he’s a Christian, after all he said a prayer at the altar, and if Bob died today he’d go to heaven. But you see, Bob has lost his fear of the Lord. Bob’s not really struggling against sin. Oh, he doesn’t really WANT to go to hell, but he has no real desire to take up his cross, deny himself, and follow Jesus.
And who’s to blame for Bob’s lack of fear of the Lord and his lack of a desire to follow Jesus in true saving faith? Bob? His family?
Ultimately, Bob will be held accountable when He stands before Jesus. But what about Bob’s Christian families’ responsibility?
Look back at the verses above. In each of these verses Paul was addressing issues with professing Christians within the church. However, they were false converts. They looked and acted like many Christians today, even like ol’ Bob. What Paul was trying to say is this: As long as you continue to pat these guys on the back and assure them they are saved they will continue to have a false assurance of their salvation and will never come to true repentance and salvation.
And ultimately, is that love?
Do you love your brother, sister, son, daughter, dad, mom, fellow church member, or friend enough to “hand them over to satan”? Do you love them enough to tell them if they continue down the path they’re on, they’ll face a terrifying God on judgement day? Do you love them enough to let them know no matter how many times they attend church and put on their religious face every Sunday, their still headed for judgement?
When a person is chosen by God for salvation, God places His Holy Spirit within them. Though they’ll make mistakes along the way, God continues to draw them to Himself through a continual sanctification process. They’ll have an ever-growing desire for the things of God. It won’t take a continual propping up of their faith and a human assurance of their salvation. Over time, the inner working of the Holy Spirit in their lives will become more and more evident. If they truly belong to God, the “handing them over to satan” will have no effect.
Only God knows who’s truly saved and who’s not. But the Bible does give clear outlines of the characteristics of a believer versus a non-believer. This was given by God for our discernment purposes.
We aren’t doing any favors for our loved ones by our continual reassurance of their right standing before God. Step out of God’s way and let Him do that. Trust me, He’s more than able to draw his children unto Himself.
Again, I recommend you read this article. He does a much better job expressing his view of the same issue.