Bringing Spiritual Healing
The following is a conversation I was having with another brother, that we both agreed might be beneficial to all... consider in prayer? Some wisdom about the command to “admonish one another daily.”
The Scriptures and the Spirit of Christ are in agreement that there are different times and different ways to deal with problems. Certainly anything that dishonors Jesus needs to be dealt with—there’s no question about that. But consider this analogy...
When I destroyed my knee playing basketball, there was serious internal damage. One of my ligaments was totally destroyed. The doctor suggested I take a few months to see what I could and couldn’t do. Perhaps the damage would not pose such a serious detriment to my future life as to warrant the risks of surgery. Well, it turned out that I needed to have surgery, or the rest of my life would be hindered, and other people (my children and others, by the limitations I would have) around me would have been affected.
I also have a finger that, on another occasion, was very seriously jammed and perhaps even broken. Yet over time it has become obvious that, even though it’s always sore and easily damaged, the risk of surgery is far greater than the risk of continuing the way it is. Time—not surgery—is actually the best solution for this particular problem.
In other words, there are sins that lead to death, and sins that don’t lead to death. Some things bear watching and praying to see whether anything more specific or more serious might come to the surface. Surgery isn’t required in every single case, right off the bat. If healing (change into Christ’s Image) doesn’t take place, then surgery may still need to happen. Situations that are detrimental to others and could lead to greater damage (like the destruction in my knee) may warrant stronger measures immediately. But often (as in the case of my finger) the passing of time and the maturing process are the best way to bring about healing.
There is another issue to consider also. Not all are those that “the Father has given us” (Jn. 17; 2Cor. 10). We respond somewhat differently to the child next door when there are repeated signs of spiritual trouble than we would our own children. If the child next door is an unbeliever’s child, or someone in a church situation somewhere with questionable allegiance to the Lord Jesus, we would not feel the freedom to delve into the sin in their life as we would one of our own children. True? We can warn and encourage those outside of God’s Family, but we cannot follow through the way we wish that we could to “present them perfect in Christ.” This is some of what Jesus meant in Mat. 18, when He said if a person in sin won’t respond to you, or to two or three others that know and love them, and not even to “the Pillar and Foundation of Truth” (the church)—then disconnect from responsibility for them and treat them in the same way you would someone else that you have little responsibility for. (Of course we have a responsibility to be ambassadors of Jesus to all, but this is not the same as one “the Father has given us.”)
If one is not responsive to Truth, if one is not one that “the Father has given us”—obvious from the loyalty of Life together—we cannot really go much beyond a role of “messengers” to them. Paul distinguished to the Corinthians a role of “tutor” and a role of “father.”
As a “father” to one that has allowed their life to melt together into the corporate Life of Christ, for Jesus’ sake, there is a door of Grace to deal with things that are unlike our Lord. If our relationships are truly Family (rather than a prideful resistance, a wandering spirit, or a lazy, convictionless life—or because God has not granted a real relationship, though sin is not present to divide), it is an easy matter to discuss those things that are precious to Jesus in a practical way in our lives, without offense. When there is separation of Life, or when that person does not really love Jesus and His Word and His Light, then even the smallest things will be misunderstood or construed as “legalism”—though doing nothing more than responding to what Jesus said with a right heart. “All Scripture is (still) God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). “Beware, 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 ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13).
If we find that there is this separation, though not glorifying to God, there is no choice but to deal with life as to “the child next door” rather than our own children or family. Carefully, lovingly, but without ability to follow through. The relationship will not bear it, and all that we can do is “plant seeds” and throw up “jump balls.” (Most folks in the world have few, if any, relationships that are NOT in this category because they have never experienced true church life, except, perhaps, in their own earthly family.) We can, of course, not take responsibility before God for one’s soul (Heb. 13:17) if there is only this superficial type of relationship. See what problems are caused by calling something “church” that is not Biblically truly a church??!! We spend our time being forced to spin our wheels, compromise with Jesus’ teachings (what a hideous option), being called names, being leavened by questionable character in our midst, and other problems that don’t happen in a true church.
If we see a serious problem in the life of one in this sort of secondary state of Life, we must deal with it differently than we could in close Family relationship, as I’ve stated. Let me give an example. In a harbor at the mouth of the Thames River near London, England, there is a sunken ship from World War II. This ship is full of explosives, and could, if detonated, blow up many homes and shops along the river. What to do? If the authorities try to disarm it, it could easily be inadvertently set off, with major loss of life. The decision has been made, up until now at least, to allow time, if possible, to disarm the damaging explosive power. In the meantime, they would attempt to steer all ships far around the wreckage, and try to build buffers around the debris to limit the amount of damage that an untimely explosion could do.
You can see the analogy. If one is not one that “the Father has given” into your life and the true part of the Life of His church locally (because of sin, physical distance, or, perhaps the Hand of God), at times the risk of trying to “disarm” the explosive power of the sin in their life is greater than can be warranted. Perhaps building buffers and letting time pass with God bringing in circumstances to bring about change, while continuing to plant seeds, is in order.
What are the “buffers” we can utilize to protect others until the power of sin is weakened in them? For starters, be cautious about yoking with them (giving away your heart), or being careless about protecting others that you care about and “will give an account for” (Heb. 13) from yoking and buddying around with them. Open fellowship with those that love the world, or are not living for Jesus with a “denial of self-life” that Jesus has said will mark anyone who wants to follow Him, will only deceive them, and make them less responsive to God. Respect, kindness, and love—but not open fellowship when your spirit tells you that they don’t have open fellowship with God. Some despise this Truth because of leaven in their own heart, but *we are not permitted to have open fellowship with one that God does not!* The Father does still show kindness and love, even to those that He cannot fellowship openly (Mat. 5:44-45), and so, to repeat, can we. But NOT fellowship or “friendship with the world” that would make us God’s enemies.
In summary, let’s watch and pray, considering these things before God. I’m not advocating compromise at all. We are not representing Jesus if we allow folks to destroy themselves spiritually. A little leaven leavens the whole batch—your whole life and the lives of others around you—if the standard of Jesus is watered down or compromised in any way. But there are different ways to approach the situation, and not all of them involve surgery. Problems need to be handled, and things that are not like Jesus need to be addressed, but sometimes surgery is too risky when there are other ways to deal with the problem. It needs to be addressed—don’t misunderstand me. The Passover feast should be, must be, celebrated without leaven, without compromise by the Lord’s Command. But let’s ask Jesus, the Author of Life, and the Master Teacher, case by case for the best ways to resolve the things that are unlike Him. He can be very creative, if we’re listening : )
Love in His Grace,