1 Corinthians 4:6-5:5 NKJV
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
8 You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
5 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! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 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, 5 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.
“What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?”
False teachers try to make you believe that there is no “rod” of discipline for people of the Church. They proclaim a false love that minimizes Christ’s commands for you to observe the Ten Commandments and His other guides for doing works of righteous love. False shepherds twist the Gospel of Christ crucified into a ‘different’ gospel, which ignores sin and panders to man’s pride by identifying unrepentant sinners as totally OK, even righteous.
The rod and staff of the Good Shepherd are holy comforts that did not pass away when Jesus Christ was crucified. The righteous admonition and discipline that comes from God’s Law are good and wise, and these things are meant to direct readers or hearers to repentance and faith in the forgiveness that comes from our Lord Jesus on His cross!
Man’s sinful flesh tries to convince us that comfort now is more important than the welfare of our spirit. But the Word and Spirit of our Lord continue to come to us so that the sinful flesh may be destroyed (suppressed), and our spirit saved in the life that truly matters. Our abundant life in the kingdom of God — through faith in Jesus Christ alone — is a far greater blessing than any comforts of the flesh in this age. The world, our flesh and the devil will do nothing other than try to focus us on our circumstances. But, as God’s Word exhorts us, “We live by faith, not by sight.” Let us pray: Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of Your great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.