The word "sovereign" does not appear in the King James Bible. God is not a tyrant, and sinful actions can not be attributed to God. Don't believe the lie that it was "God's will for you to be abused". Sin is never God's will. Current fundamentalist theology teaches a view of God's "sovereignty" which divides earthly events into two camps: God's will and God's permissive will. It teaches that God lovingly allowed someone to sin against you because it would be for your future good. When the nation Israel cried out "Why was I raped?", God clearly told them it was because of their own sins and idolatry (Jeremiah 13:22). But when an innocent child is raped, it is because the rapist is forcing his own evil will on the child.
God willed to create and to destroy what He had created (Gen. 2:18; 6:7-13). God willed to bless and to curse (Gen. 12:2-3) and to make covenants with individuals and with nations (Gen. 17). God made a covenant (a legal "will") with Israel declaring what He would do based upon their actions (Lev. 26). Because Israel repeatedly broke their covenant with God, God judged them according to that "will". God willed not to forgive (Deut. 29:19-20), not to listen (Jer. 11:11-14), and not to show pity, mercy, compassion, or favor (Is. 27:11; Jer. 21:7; and Ezek. 7).
Daniel 4:34-35 "And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar
lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me,
and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth
for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is
from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are
reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven,
and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or
say unto him, What doest thou?"
Will is tsba' in Aramaic; meaning to desire, to be pleased, or to will.
Nebuchadnezzar experienced God overpowering his will because of his prideful remarks, and concluded that God's will is inescapable. For a few key players in God's plan for the world that is true. God rules the universe, but He chose to share His rule of earth with mankind, and gave mankind the ability to chose to disobey His will, as He also gave choice to the angels. There was even rebellion in heaven which the Lord squelched by tossing out Satan and a third of the angels that followed him. God gave mankind dominion (Heb. radah, which means rule) over the earth and its beasts (Gen. 1:26-28). Because of Adam and Eve's sin, God also cursed the earth and beasts with them; and the earth awaits redemption along with the saints (Rom. 8:22). Jesus said God's will is done in heaven, but to pray for God's will to be done on earth. As Christians, we are to pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is already being done in heaven.
Romans 9:19-24 "Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet
find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou
that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed
it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay,
of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured
with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And
that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,
which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not
of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"
Fault is memphomai in Greek; meaning to blame or to find fault.
Resisteth is anthistemi in Greek; meaning "stand against", to set one's self against, to withstand, resist, or oppose.
Will is boulema in Greek; meaning will, or purpose. It is used only twice; translated 'will' here and 'purpose' in Acts 27:43.
Power over is exousia in Greek; meaning power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; leave or permission, physical and mental power; the ability or strength with which one is endued, the power of judicial decisions (influence), or jurisdiction.
Wrath is orge in Greek; meaning anger, temper, indignation, any violent emotion exhibited in punishment; agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, or character.
Most of the Old Testament scriptures people use to prove the sovereignty of God have to do with God showing His wrath. He often used unbelievers to punish Israel for her sins. God's wrath against sin is only part of His plan for mankind. When God desires to show His wrath, only the bravest of men (Abraham and Moses) would dare try to dissuade Him. As believers there is much more for us to discover about God's plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward
you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an
Thoughts is machashabah or machashebeth in Hebrew; meaning device, plan, purpose, or invention.
Peace is shalowm or shalom in Hebrew; meaning completeness, soundness (health), welfare, safety, or contentment.
Evil is ra' in Hebrew; meaning bad, disagreeable, malignant, hurtful, evil (giving pain or misery), sad, unhappy, unpleasant, or unkind.
Expected end is tiqvah in Hebrew; meaning hope, expectation or outcome.
Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that
good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Prove is dokimazo in Greek; meaning to test, examine, scrutinize, to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, to deem worthy.
Good is agathos in Greek; meaning of a good nature, useful, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy, excellent, distinguished, upright, or honourable.
Acceptable is euarestos in Greek; meaning pleasing.
Perfect is teleios in Greek; meaning brought to its end, finished; lacking nothing necessary to completeness; of men, full grown, or mature.
Will is thelema in Greek; meaning what one wishes or has determined shall be done; commands, precepts, choice; inclination, desire, or pleasure. It is used of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ, and of what God wishes to be done by us.
The worldly mindset either attributes everything or nothing to God's will (fatalism or atheism). Christians are to renew their minds in relationship with Jesus so that they can truly recognize God's good will bringing them to wholeness and maturity in Christ.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for
good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his
All things is pas in Greek; meaning all, any, every, or whole.
Work together is sunergeo in Greek; meaning to work together, help in work, be partner in labour; to put forth power together with and thereby to assist.
For is eis in Greek; meaning result toward, move toward, or purpose
Good is agathos in Greek; meaning of a good nature, useful, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy, excellent, distinguished, upright, or honourable.
Called is kletos in Greek; meaning invited (to a banquet).
Purpose is prothesis in Greek; meaning "set before" or "show forth".
Most survivors have been badgered by insensitive people with this verse. Yes, the final result of all things is 'for' good for those who love God, but that does not mean everything that happens in a Christian's life 'is' good or of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-23 "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn
them that are unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient
toward all. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow
that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all. Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will
of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not
prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from
all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Thanksgiving is eucharistia in Greek; (the root charis means grace), meaning good grace or grace well, or gratitude.
The Greek texts did not have punctuation, but this paragraph is a complete thought regarding God's will. Notice the exhortation not to respond to evil with more evil, but to continue to follow God's good ways in the midst of evil. Regardless of what evil people do to us as Christians, we have the Spirit's power within us to respond in accordance with God's grace. Christians are not to be fatalists. We are not to moan "As Allah wills" like the Muslims, and just accept whatever evil happens to us as destiny; but we are to "overcome evil with good" as Christ did in His victorious life, forgiving those who crucified Him. The Eucharist is the celebration of the Lord's supper during Mass. Thanksgiving is definitely linked with forgiveness and redemption. Christians can overcome evil with forgiveness.
1 Timothy 1:18-2:4 "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
I don't believe Paul is instructing Timothy to give thanks for men whom he has delivered unto Satan. (There are times when God brings bad circumstances into someone's life in order that they may repent of their sin and turn to Him and be saved. See 2 Samuel 17:14.) The purpose of the praying and thanksgiving is for authorities to enable believers to live peacefully and for salvation. Hymenaeus and Alexander are apostates who have already shipwrecked their faith and who are actively trying to destroy the faith of others (2 Timothy 2:16-18). They have spurned God's grace and are to be avoided. If you were abused by an apostate, you do not need to pray for the person, nor be reconciled. Don't hold it against the person as if they owe you a debt, but forgive them for your own sake; thus breaking any tie to the abuser. Don't avenge yourself but let God pay the person back for what he's done.
Ephesians 5:16-21 "Redeeming the time, because the days are
evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the
Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with
the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always
for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
Unwise is aphron in Greek; meaning senseless, foolish, stupid, without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly.
Understanding is suniemi in Greek; meaning to bring conflicting thoughts together.
For is huper in Greek; meaning over, above, beyond, instead, regarding, or concerning.
We are commanded to "understand" the Lord's will; to reconcile the fact that a good God has empowered us to live good lives in the midst of an evil world. Don't try to drink your troubles away; instead face your "evil days" in God's Power, encouraging your own heart and others' by reminding yourselves of past victories through songs and testimonies. Certainly God does not want us to thank Him "for" evil (He is not its author). A reasonable translation for the Greek word huper (translated "for") in Eph. 5:20 would render, "Giving thanks always concerning all things unto God . . ."
Galatians 1:3-5 "Grace be to you and peace from God the Father,
and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he
might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of
God and our Father: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Deliver is exaireo in Greek; meaning to pluck out, to choose out, or to rescue.
From these passages I see God's will is for people to be saved and delivered from evil, and to live lives of Spirit-filled prayer, praise, peace, goodness and hope. Some people say it is God's will for Christians to give thanks to God for evil and for evil people based upon some of these passages, but then they would logically be thanking God for Satan, demons, hell and sin. God created Adam and Eve with the ability to choose to respect and obey Him or to disrespect and disobey Him (sin). In the midst of great freedom and several positive commands, He gave them only one negative command. Though God allowed the opportunity for mankind to sin, it was not His desire (will) for them to sin. It was Eve's choice and Adam's choice (will) to sin. Immediately God sought reconciliation with them. Having no faith in God's loving desire to forgive them, they fearfully hid from God and blamed others rather than confessing their individual choices to sin. If they had taken personal responsibility for their sins, and humbly sought restoration, maybe they would not have been cursed.
1 Thessalonians 4:2-3 "For ye know what commandments we gave
you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,
that ye should abstain from fornication"
Sanctification is hagiasmos in Greek; meaning holiness, consecration, or purification.
Fornication is porneia in Greek; meaning illicit sexual intercourse.
Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is not God's will. Sexual abuse (including pornography) is specifically not God's will. For those who have been sexually abused, it is God's will to purify you and to make you whole (holy), and that you would abstain from sexually sinning against others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-9 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who
comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them
which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted
of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation
also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation
and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings
which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation
and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are
partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For
we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to
us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch
that we despaired even of life."
Tribulation and trouble are thlipsis in Greek; meaning affliction, anguish, burden, or persecution.
Afflicted is thlibo in Greek; meaning crowd, throng, narrow, suffer, tribulation or trouble.
Sufferings is pathema in Greek; meaning a hardship or pain undergone, affliction or affection.
Comfort is paraklesis in Greek; meaning consolation, exhortation, entreaty or solace.
Consolation is parakalupto in Greek; meaning "cover alongside", to veil or to hide.
One can't go through sufferings for Christ until one knows Christ. In context Paul is definitely speaking of persecution for preaching the gospel. Paul's trouble in Asia might have been the riot in Ephesus (see Acts 19:23-41). It is unsound and cruel to use this text as the sovereignty of God's will in another's pain and suffering if that pain and suffering was not the result of being persecuted for faith in Jesus Christ.
Let's say repressed incest experiences are like broken bones in my body which have healed to varying degrees without being properly set. My body expends extra energy to heal these bones, but I function as a cripple denying I have a problem. When people brush up against these damaged areas unintentionally, I immediately shield the area with well-learned coping mechanisms (anger, defensiveness, sarcasm, silence, fantasy, etc.).
I can't heal the coping mechanism until I've expose the cause for coping. The bones and surrounding tissue continue to deteriorate until the pain becomes too intense, and I fear complete debilitation. I now desperately seek the cause of my injury. For me that means remembering several incest episodes. Each memory rebreaks a calcified bone giving extreme pain, but accepting the truth of the memory properly resets the bone. For months while the bone is in a cast, my energy is focused on that memory, depleting energy from the rest of my body. Sleep is fitful and full of nightmares regarding that bone and others. The cast comes off and I need more therapy to regain its abilities. Some therapy is done in a clinical setting, but most is done at home through journals, drawing, and agonizing times in prayer. After venting my anger, I came to a place where I could forgive those who injured me. That made rebreaking and setting the other bones a bit easier.
Yes, broken bones often heal stronger than they were before, but you don't see many people breaking their own bones in order to gain some extra strength or a "comforting ministry" to others after the casts come off. It was not God's will for my family to sin against me so that I could be stronger later and help others through similar circumstances. Strength and ability to comfort others are mere byproducts of a loving God's efforts to heal the damage. He would rather have strengthened me through the godly nurture of healthy parents who obeyed Him, like the parents He chose for His own Son. Suffering persecution and trials for your faith in Jesus is different from innocent children being defiled by evil people.
Jesus responds to this question with the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-43). It is clear that the devil sows all who do evil, and that God is allowing them to remain in the soil so as to not uproot the good with the evil. Our lives are intertwined and interconnected. When my plane is landing I don't think of what the air traffic controller or pilot believe, I just hope they do their jobs well. 2 Timothy 2:19-21 and Romans 8:28-11:36 are other parables which deal with the choices of God and man in regards to salvation and predestination.
God uses trials (peirasmos from James 1:2; also see Ex. 20:18-20) to prove to you what faith you already possess; He does not use evil (poneros from Eph. 5:16) to "test" you. Those who say, "God plans evil for your life in order to test your faith," often believe that an eternal God who has foretold us so many things, and has ordered the steps of certain individuals (like Moses or Joseph), also must have chosen to know the outcome of every single personal decision made on earth since He created time.
I think the following scriptures show God is often surprised when man sins, and has often contemplated wiping everyone out in order to try again, yet refrains for the few righteous: Genesis 3:8-13,17; 6:5-8; 8:21; 11:5-9; 18:16-33; Exodus 32:7-14; Numbers 16:41-50; Deuteronomy 11:16-17; 30:15-20; and Jeremiah 19:4-5. If sin was God's will, then why would we have to forgive our abusers for performing God's will? Sin is never God's will. God can redeem and restore us from any sin. Let's not confuse His will with His grace.
Christians have designed a god that is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent; but is that god omni-Biblical? It's amazing how the pain of the victims must be squashed and denied in order for someone's image of the omni-god to be maintained.
Sin is disobeying God's will, so you can't say a person's sin is in God's will. (This is different than Paul's argument on predestination in Romans 9.) When you believe that God decided you would be raped, then you are believing that God is an abuser who is totally in control, and you slip back into the familiar relationship you had with your perpetrator. The correct perspective of God allowing evil in the world is in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-43). Somehow if God uprooted the evil people it would destroy us too, so we all wait for harvest. It was not God's will for your life to be intertwined with evil people who would mistreat you.
God gave Israel commands to remove evil people from their midst. Read Leviticus chapters 17-20, and notice how often evil-doers are to be "cut off" from the community. As Christians we are not commanded to kill people for sin, but to offer them forgiveness in hopes they will repent of their sin. As long as their is repentance, recognition of and a turning away from sin, then forgiveness is to be granted. When the sinner stubbornly refuses to repent, then the sinner is banned from fellowship with the saints in hopes the sinner may yet repent and be restored.
If God's will is always done on earth, and evil is part of God's will for us, why did Jesus teach His disciples to pray for God's will to be done in earth, and for God to deliver us from evil (Matt. 6:10-13)? Therefore, God's will is not always done on earth, and the godly will be persecuted by evil people (2 Tim. 3:12-13). When evil comes into your life through the will of mankind, you can be sure God is anxiously waiting for someone's trusting prayer to release His power to stop or to heal the evil done to you. Sometimes, when God can find no one to "stand in the gap" as a mediator, He will "save by His own arm;" but most of the time He chooses to use the righteous prayers and deeds of His people to "overcome evil with good."
David experienced years of disappointment, discouragement, violence, betrayal and fear before and after he became king. God didn't stop the lion or the bear from attacking David, but gave him the strength to overcome them; thus building his confidence to defeat the blasphemous Philistine. God didn't stop the sources of betrayal, violence, and discouragement, but He gave David hope and inner strength from Himself. David explored the depths of God's sufficiency for him through prayer and worship. David proclaims the Lord has saved him from all evil people and will continue to save him according to His eternal covenant. God may not have stopped our abusers or our sources of fear, but our relationship with Him is our salvation. Read 2 Samuel 22:1-23:7.
2 Samuel 22:1-3 "And David spake unto the LORD the words
of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand
of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The LORD
is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him
will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower,
and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence."
Rock (1) is cela' in Hebrew; meaning crag or cliff, lofty; or security.
Fortress is matsuwd in Hebrew; meaning net, prey, fastness, stronghold, or bulwark.
Deliverer is palat in Hebrew; meaning to bring into safety and security, to help escape.
Rock (2) is tsuwr in Hebrew; meaning rock or fortified rocky enclosure.
Shield is magen in Hebrew; meaning a shield for cover or defense.
Horn is qeren in Hebrew; meaning container, a musical instrument, rays of light, or a hill.
Salvation is yesha' in Hebrew; meaning deliverance, rescue, safety, welfare, or victory.
High place is misgab in Hebrew; meaning refuge, secure height, retreat, or stronghold.
Savior is yasha' in Hebrew; meaning one who saves, delivers, liberates or triumphs.
Violence is chamac in Hebrew; meaning wrong, cruelty, or injustice.
Trust is chacah in Hebrew; meaning to seek refuge, or to confide and hope in God.
Refuge is manowc in Hebrew; meaning flight or place of escape.
God will avenge us and rescue us from our enemies (2 Samuel 22:48-49). A cliff, hill, or rocky enclosure may not feel as safe to us as they did to David as he eluded the armies of Saul. We are not limited to relating to God with the words and images of the pre-technological world of the Bible. Whereas David pictured a pavilion (Psalm 31:20), I often envision a transparent dome of silence covering me and keeping lies and false accusations from penetrating. God remains constant and unchanging though our vocabularies and scientific advancements continually change.
God will remove evil at the end of the age, but until then we can escape, endure, and overcome evil. Paul escaped evil plots against his life (Acts 9:17-31, 20:3 and 19, and 23:12-35). Paul was often wrongly imprisoned and beaten, and God gave him the strength and peace to endure it. Paul was falsely accused by the heathen, Jews, and "Christians", and God gave him the "weapons" of truth to demolish their lies and arguments (2 Cor. 10:3-5). We can also escape life-threatening situations, endure wrongful imprisonment, and overcome evil with goodness and truth.
Paul often encountered hecklers in the crowd or the church trying to block or pervert the message of the gospel he was preaching. Paul warned others about these false "ministers of God" who had done him great harm. I believe they, or Alexander in particular, were Paul's thorn in the flesh which God would not remove. God's grace is sufficient to endure and overcome evil.
2 Timothy 4:14-18 "Alexander the coppersmith did me much
evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware
also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man
stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid
to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened
me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles
might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord
shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly
kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Evil is kakos in Greek; meaning depraved, injurious, bad, harm, ill, noisome, or wicked.
Deliver is rhuomai (the root rheo refers to a flow or current of water) in Greek; meaning to rush, draw or rescue.
Evil (work) is poneros in Greek; meaning hurtful, malicious, grievous, lewd, or wicked.
Preserve is sozo in Greek; meaning heal, save, protect, deliver, do well, or make whole.
Paul recounts how Jesus stood by him when others forsook him (Acts 23:1-11). Our family and friends may desert us when we tell the truth about abuse, but we are assured that Jesus stands by us supportingly. Paul was stoned, flogged, and shipwrecked, but trusted in Jesus' ability to keep his faith secure and whole. Whatever evil came against him, he believed the goodness of God would eventually overcome it (the real meaning of Romans 8:28). Paul wasn't protected from evil, he was salvaged from it. We are also reclaimed and restored from the evil done to us through God's beneficent working in our lives. When faced with imminent evil it is comforting to read Daniel 3:17-18.
The world and the church are not safe; they are infiltrated by evil. The worst evil is spiritual abuse which could lead us away from Jesus. Jesus constantly warned his disciples against false leaders and false teaching, telling them how to recognize both. With all the political and social evil in His time, Jesus aimed His wrath at the religious evil of spiritual abuse. Keeping people away from Jesus through false doctrine is bad enough, but I believe those "ministers" who also sexually abuse children are under greater judgment.
"Spare the rod and spoil the child" is not a biblical phrase. It's a much more modern one found in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, written by Samuel Butler in the 17th century, in a poem called Hudibras:
"Love is a boy, by poets styl'd,
Then spare the rod, and spoil the child."
Proverbs 23:13-14 "If you beat him with a rod, he will not
die, You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol."
Beat is nakah in Hebrew; meaning smite, slay, kill, beat, slaughter, stricken, given, wounded, strike, or stripes; it apparently carries the picture of a person smacking something.
If your young child disobeys you and runs into the street, it is kinder to spank that child than to let the child run out into traffic to be struck by a car.
Matthew 18:1-2 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus,
saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called
a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them."
Child is paidion in Greek; meaning a child from infancy to half-grown.
The root of paidion is paio which means to hit, to sting, or to strike as if by a single blow. Pais means a child or a slave who is often struck. Peter and I have used these definitions to discipline our son with a stinging spank on the hand with our own hand (as a toddler), or on the bare buttocks with a plastic spoon. We use a spank for infractions of clearly defined boundaries and defiance of our authority. An appropriate spank will make the skin red for a short time, but it must not bruise or break the skin (which is abusive). Time-outs or taking away a favorite toy or activity are more effective for minor offences. If I am angry at him, I will give him a time-out until I can discipline him for his benefit and not as a release of my anger. When he repents, we forgive and embrace him. Jesus already took the punishment for sin; parents are to administer discipline (not punishment) to train a child towards righteousness.
Matthew 18:3-5 "And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye
be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little
child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive
one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Converted is strepho (trepho meaning to turn) in Greek; meaning to turn quite around.
Kingdom is baselia in Greek; meaning royalty or rule.
Humble is tapeinoo in Greek; meaning to depress, to abase, or to bring low.
Receive is dechomai in Greek; meaning accept or welcome.
Accepting a little child, or a new convert who has become a little child in Jesus' name, is welcoming Jesus. That child-like innocence reflects the holy glory of the Creator. To abuse a little child or new convert would be like desecrating Jesus Himself. Satanists understand this, and that is why they defile children and infants in their rituals. Ritual abuse is real. It's recorded in the Bible (See Jer. 19:4-5). In light of this, Jesus' severity toward abusers is understandable.
Matthew 18:6-7 "But whoso shall offend one of these little
ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were
hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences
come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
Offend is skandalizo in Greek; meaning to entrap, trip up, or stumble; or to entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure.
Little ones is mikros in Greek; meaning small, little, or least.
Believe is pisteuo in Greek, meaning to have faith, credit, or trust.
Must needs is anagke in Greek; meaning pressed back, constraint, distress, or inevitable.
Woe is ouai in Greek; meaning an expression of grief or denunciation.
Regarding ". . . one of these little ones which believe in me" -- I believe it's possible for two and three year olds to have simple relationships with Jesus; ones which can be nurtured or corrupted.
In God's view it is better that a person cease physical existence on earth than for that person to spiritually, physically or sexually abuse a child or new believer. God says offenses, like child abuse, are inevitable; but He will give the abusers grief.
The abuser's death would protect the children from further assault, and would clearly allow a remaining spouse to remarry, enabling the family to pursue healing and wholeness. If both parents were abusive and were put to death, then the orphans were to be cared for by next of kin or the church. If it was an unmarried person who was abusing children, death would stop another incestuous household from possibly being formed.
If child abusers were given the death penalty and somehow eradicated from society, I think that society would see less prostitution, rape, homosexuality, casual sex, abortion, and generally less sexual perversion overall in the consequent generation. The documentation of childhood sexual abuse leading to such sexual perversion is overwhelming; yet the judicial system continues to coddle perpetrators and scrutinize victims.
A victim of an offense is not required to reprove his "brother"; in fact it might place the victim in possible danger to do so. I don't know why some counselors insist an incest victim must personally confront the perpetrator with the truth, when it might bring the victim more unnecessary harm. The proper recourse is to inform civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7) of the criminal offense. Get the abuser off the streets. If the abuser repents in jail, then there's hope for restoration.
Matthew 18:8-9 "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend
thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter
into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be
cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out,
and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one
eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."
Cut is ekkopto (kopto means to chop) in Greek; meaning to frustrate, hew down, or hinder.
Cast is ballo in Greek; meaning to throw violently, strike, send, or thrust.
Halt is cholos in Greek; meaning crippled or limping.
Maimed is kullos in Greek; meaning rocking about or crippled.
Pluck it out is exaireo (haireomai means to take for oneself or prefer) in Greek; meaning to tear out, select, release, deliver or rescue.
God's advice to child abusers who look, walk toward, or touch with intent to abuse, is to literally cripple other body parts before the genitals ever become involved. Jesus gives similar advice to those who are lustful in Matthew 5:27-30, leading me to conclude that Matthew 18 refers to sexual abuse of children. In verses 8-9, Jesus could have been referring to Job 31:7-8, "If my step has turned from the way, or my heart walked after my eyes, or if any spot adheres to my hand, then let me sow, and another eat; yes, let my harvest be rooted out;" or He could have been referring to 1 Samuel 11:2, in which putting out the eye is a sign of one's disgrace. It is clear that child abusers need to take drastic measures in their lives in order to avoid going to hell.
Regardless of their past (which was probably abusive), child abusers are responsible for their own sinful actions as adults. If the abuser refuses to repent, the death penalty or life imprisonment is best. If the abuser repents and becomes a Christian and has avoided jail, I would suggest complete isolation from children while obtaining Christian counseling in which he would be held accountable (it's as if he's on parole, and the counselor is his parole officer). Clergy could use their exemption from having to report confessed child abusers in order to set up such counseling, but they must be aware of the expert lying and manipulating abilities of abusers (see Eph. 5:5-7).
Even if the abuser is repentant and becomes a Christian, the victims may still prosecute him for his crimes. If he maintains his faith in prison, it's a good indication of a true conversion. An abuser's spouse is free to separate (for fornication and railing -- see 1 Cor. 5:11). If the family agrees to attempt restoration upon the abuser's demonstration of fruits befitting repentance over a specified time (see Revelation 3:18-23), it's possible for God's Spirit to do a miraculous healing work which could mend the whole family. But if one person in the family is against the idea of restoration with the abuser, it should not be forced. Child abusers are responsible to stop abusing; the community is responsible to see they never do it again.
Matthew 18:10 "Take heed that ye despise not one of these
little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
Despise not is kataphroneo in Greek; meaning to think against.
There is a special relationship between Father God and little children. We must be careful to align our attitudes toward children with God's. Children are valuable, precious persons worthy of our attention and our acceptance as if they were Jesus Himself.
Matthew 18:11 "For the Son of man is come to save that which
Save is sozo in Greek; meaning to save, deliver or protect; heal, preserve, save, or make well.
Lost is apollumi in Greek; meaning to destroy fully, mar, or lose.
Jesus has a special mission to recover abused and misled children.
Matthew 18:12-14 "How think ye? if a man have an hundred
sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and
nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more
of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even
so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these
little ones should perish."
Went not astray is planao in Greek; meaning to roam from safety, truth or virtue; wander, err, or be out of the way.
Perish is apollumi in Greek; meaning to destroy, lose, or mar.
God rejoices more over fully saving me and other abused and misled children, then in saving those who have never turned away from him. Yet His will is that they'd never be lost or marred in the first place. It is not God's will for children to be abused or misled.
Matthew 18:15 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against
thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall
hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother."
Brother is adelphos in Greek; meaning "from the womb", believer, or brethren.
Trespass is hamartano in the Greek; meaning "to miss the mark"; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; sin, an offense, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act.
Fault is paraptoma in the Greek; meaning "to fall beside or near something," a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; a sin, a misdeed, a trespass, an offence, a fall.
Tell is elegcho in Greek; meaning reprove or rebuke; by conviction to bring to the light, to expose; to correct by word (to reprehend severely, chide, admonish) or by deed (to chasten or to punish).
Shall hear is akouo in Greek; meaning to listen with understanding.
Hast gained is kerdaino in Greek; meaning won.
"Moreover" -- continuing on the same theme of restoring a lost relationship. Shepherd to sheep, Father to child, and now brother to brother. This "trespass" is much less devastating than the "offence" preceding it. This "trespass" implies the person is genuinely trying to do what's right, but has made a mistake. The "offence" is intentional harm and/or enticement to sin, like the woman "caught" in the very act of adultery and brought before Jesus. Leviticus 20:10 says both the man and the woman should be killed in such a case. The woman was set up in order to trap Jesus. The Pharisees were committing an offence. They wanted to trick Jesus into committing a sin and kill the town whore at the same time. Jesus, being one with the Father and constituting two witnesses, could have condemned her, but He chose not to, and told her to leave her sinful life.
Matthew 18:16-18 "But if he will not hear thee, then take
with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses
every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell
it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto
thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever
ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall
loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Church is ekklesia in Greek; meaning assembly of believers.
Bind is deo in Greek; meaning bound or imprisoned.
Loosed is luo in Greek; meaning to loose, dissolve or release.
Binding is barring from fellowship, and loosing is forgiving and restoring to fellowship. A heathen or Gentile was not a part of the Jewish community; they were to treat such a person as an outsider. But Gentiles and tax collectors could repent and be brought in.
Matthew 18:19-20 "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst."
If a remote missionary couple are blessed with a convert who then returns to a life of sin, and the sinner will not repent when confronted by them, then they must withhold fellowship from him until he repents. When the church at large is not following Christian discipline, Christian families may withhold fellowship from unrepentant "Christians".
Matthew 18:21-22 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord,
how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven
times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but,
Until seventy times seven."
Sin is hamartano in the Greek; meaning "to miss the mark"; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; sin, an offense, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act.
In the parable of the unmerciful servant which follows, Jesus shows us that forgiveness presupposes repentance with the intent to make full restitution. If the one who has been forgiven doesn't demonstrate that same forgiveness to others, he will encounter God's anger.
Matthew 19:13-14 "Then were there brought unto him little
children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples
rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not,
to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Rebuked is epitimao in Greek; meaning to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely, to admonish or charge sharply.
Suffer is aphiemi in Greek; meaning to allow or permit.
Matthew 19:29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
God knows how difficult it is to forsake home and family for the truth, and He rewards those who do so.
John 15:12-17 "This is my commandment, That ye love one another,
as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I
command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth
not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things
that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and
bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye
shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I
command you, that ye love one another."
Chosen is eklegomai in Greek; meaning "called out".
Some use the "chosen me" verse to support predestination and the negation of man's will. I see Jesus stating the fact that He called each of the twelve to follow Him. Though God could command them as slaves, He prefers to share His plans with them as friends. God commands His disciples to love, but how we choose to demonstrate His love is a private daily discourse between friends who are able to be co-workers because of Christ. Communicating with God in hopes of a godly outcome is a part of prayer.
There are certain aspects of God's will which are immovable: His covenant with Israel, sending the Messiah, preparing His Bride for the Bridegroom's return, the destruction of the earth by fire, the establishment of a new heaven and earth, etc. I also believe much freedom exists within God's will. Abram discussed the fate of Sodom, and God accepted his terms. Moses kept God from destroying Israel and thus defame His honor, and God relented of His intent. Elijah asked God to withhold the rain until He was honored in the land again, and God obliged. These are examples of God and godly men communicating with one another in order to bring about the best results possible; man's will effecting God's will.
There are examples of when man's sin delayed or altered God's will: when the Israelites were afraid to go into the Promised Land and then spent 40 years in the dessert, Barak losing the honor of battle to a woman because of his request for Deborah to accompany him (Judges 4), Israel's request for a king because they had rejected God as King. I think the reason Christ did not return quickly for His Bride, is because the Church so quickly let go of the Head and exalted mere men instead.
God has taken advantage of mankind's will to sin to perform His own will.
John 19:10-11 "Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
Governmental authority is given by God (Rom. 13:1-7), but Pilate sinned in committing an innocent man to death, and the Jewish Sanhedrin who handed Jesus over to Pilate committed a greater sin. God gives parents authority over their young children, but it is never God's will for those parents to abuse their children.
Rarely has God ever willed a human to disobey His commands. The one clear case is when God hardened Pharaoh's heart to disobey His commands through Moses and Aaron (Exodus 9). Remember the Law had not yet been given, so though God made Pharoah stubborn, He did not cause Pharoah to sin.
Romans 9:17-21 "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even
for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power
in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore
hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted
his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall
the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel
unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
Mercy is eleeo in Greek; meaning to have mercy on, to help one afflicted or seeking aid, or to bring help to the wretched.
Hardeneth is skleruno in Greek; meaning to make hard, harden; or to render obstinate or stubborn.
Just like the man born blind, God tells us His motive is to "show My power in you". With Nebuchadnezzer, God tells us His motive is "that my name might be declared throughout all the earth": Nebuchadnezzer chose to honor God; Pharoah did not.
God created the angels with the will to choose to serve Him or not. According to the twelfth chapter of Revelation, a third of the angels chose to follow the devil, but Michael and the remaining angels fought victoriously against them. God created humans with the will to choose to love and obey Him or not.
Let's view a chessboard as the earth upon which a love story is being played between God and humanity throughout time. Angels and demons are messengers: angels whisper correct, obedient moves to humanity; while demons whisper incorrect, disobedient moves to humanity. God will ultimately win and can foresee infinite moves ahead, but in hopes of wooing His Bride, He counters the moves of humanity with His great grace and wisdom. There are only so many possible moves mankind can make, but even God is surprised on occasion.
God has sacrificed many pieces in order to gain the love and honor of the Jews and Christians He has chosen. God even sacrificed His queen (Jesus, in this analogy), but He has a pawn ready to reach the last row (which will then be replaced by the queen), and Jesus shall be returned to earth as rightful ruler.
Of course God can clear the board and start over; He already did that once with Noah's flood, and He plans to do it again with fire, and then create a new earth. I like the chess analogy of wills battling on earth. I imagine their are more moves which could be directly associated with human history, but you get the idea.
 George MacDonald, (Compiled and edited by Michael R. Philips) Discovering the Character of God. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1989, p. 194.
© 1997 L. Eve Engelbrite