In the piece of scripture set apart for this section, we’ll be concentrating on the strange phrase Paul used, “in the person of Christ.”
Thus far in chapter 2 of 2 Corinthians, Paul has been talking to the church about their reaction to his rather scathing previous letter, after having heard feedback of the corrections that were made. Our last section ended with forgiveness after repentance by the one who rebuked.
Here, we’ll pick up where we left off, continuing forward with forgiveness, and some revelation into why forgiveness is so important. Often showing its importance in ways we don’t commonly think about.
Forgiveness in the Person of Christ
2 Corinthians 2:
10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Forgiveness in the person of Christ sounds like a powerful statement, but what does it mean to do anything “in the person of Christ?” It’s interesting to note, that this is the only place in all of the New Testament where we can find this phrase.
To do something in the person of Christ, we’re doing it in his behalf. Sounds like a bold thing to do, because it is. Might even be a dangerous thing to do under certain circumstances.
That said, this isn’t something that only a select few are able to partake in. The apostle Paul didn’t have a particular market cornered on God in order to be bold enough to do something in the person of Christ.
Anybody can do this, but should we? That’s a whole other ballgame, with several factors involved.
The 10 big factors are the following:
- Our relationship with Christ
- Our working knowledge of scripture
- Having the mind of Christ
- Knowing the heart of Christ
- Faith that the Word of God is true
- Faith that Jesus practiced what he preached, and that his Word is faithful
- A working knowledge of how the Father operates and is faithful to his own Word
- Practical Discernment into a situation
- Spiritual Discernment into a situation
- Humility and Obedience to the Lord
With the above factors at play in our lives, drenched in our salvation and the love of the Lord, we can make such a judgement, such as forgiving someone in the person of Christ.
Paul’s Action through Letter
Paul expressed that he personally forgave the church for their wrongdoing. Then for their sakes, forgave them in the person of Christ. In other words, he was saying, “I forgive you, and Jesus forgives you as well.”
And were it Jesus writing this as if he were talking to someone, you can almost hear him follow up with, “now go and sin no more.” How was Paul able to be bold enough to speak for Christ?
Well, first he knew the sins involved, and was the one who called the church out on them in 1 Corinthians. Second, he received word of their being smitten at heart, and word of the genuine nature of their repentance unto the Lord for their trespasses.
Third, he knew the heart of the Father, the heart of Christ, and knew what their response would be toward genuine repentance. Fourth, he knew the Word of the Lord, and how the Father is faithful to do what he says he’ll do.
Fifth, he was humble enough to shelve any judgement or irritation he personally held against them due to their trespasses. Sixth, he offered forgiveness on his own behalf first, as a show of obedience to the Lord and his Word.
Seventh, he openly and directly expressed it toward those who needed to hear it, ushering in peace of mind and settled hearts over the church’s concerns, as well as the ease of discipline against those who have been corrected.
He harbored every item in the list above, and put it to good use in the Lord’s service. As Ambassadors of Christ, we’re also capable of doing the same, if we are to take our relationship with the Father seriously and use his wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, through his Spirit.
Unforgiveness- A Device of Satan
Unfortunately, what Paul said about us not being ignorant to the Devil’s devices isn’t as true as it used to be. Since many believers are clueless about the whiles of the Devil, they’re likely to not recognize that unforgiveness is also a tool of the enemy. That’s if they even believe that Satan even exists.
Hosea 4: King James Bible
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
The people of the Lord suffer unnecessarily due to their lack of knowledge. There is a Satan, he does literally exist, and he is not just a figurative figure to pin everything on. He is active and very real, harboring his own plans and will meet his own bitter end. Let’s just get that out there.
If forgiveness is so large in the eyes of the Lord, you can count on the poison of unforgiveness to be heavily pushed by the enemies of the Lord.
This is done by filling our head with what we should forgive, and what we shouldn’t. 9 times out of 10 these will go against what the Word of God says. That 10th time would be circumstances where the Word is taken out of context, or manipulated to serve one’s interests, rather than God’s.
Paul tells us flat out, that this is an area where Satan is capable of gaining an advantage over us. He is telling us that this is possible, and when we are unaware of this, it moves from possible to probable.
The advantage he gains, is at worst leading us to not be forgiven by the Lord himself, for the things that we so desperately need to be forgiven of.
Matthew 6: King James Bible
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus gives us a parable that provides insight into the mind of the Father concerning forgiveness, as well as a stern warning against unforgiveness in Matthew 18:23-25. Satan would rather us not be forgiven, so you can be assured that he does whatever he can to interrupt the will of the Lord concerning this.
He does whatever he can, when we allow whatever we allow. We are not going to be tried against Satan’s heart, but the Lord judges our hearts. If we allow the will of the enemy to take root in our hearts, that’s our fault.
We can say, “the Devil made me do it” all day long, but at the end of the day, we have been given authority over all the power of the enemy, and are the ones who decides what we will or won’t do. Particularly as it relates to forgiveness.
Luke 10: King James Bible
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
The bottom line is, that Paul forgave the Church of Corinth in the person of Christ for their benefit, not his own. And this came after his personal forgiveness toward them.
Our willingness to do anything in Christ’s name should reflect Christ himself, not ourselves. The same is true when Paul spoke in the person of Christ, not just “in the name of Christ.”
It wasn’t necessary for him to do, but was necessary for them to know for their own heart’s sakes. He edified them in their doing right by the Lord, and conveyed to them the fact that the Lord has forgiven them.
Never forget, the only time this is mentioned throughout the entirety of the New Testament, is about the topic of forgiveness. If you’ve never placed much thought in the importance of forgiveness, maybe this might convince you to take a closer look into it, and measure yourselves against what the Word says about the subject.
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