As I read through the final chapter of 2 Corinthians, I cannot help but wonder what Paul was going to do to his opponents when he arrived in Corinth.
Of course, Paul was hoping he wouldn’t have to do anything to them; that they would repent. That comes through very clearly in the chapter. It was in their best interest to stop their opposition to him and their worldliness.
Still . . . what if they didn’t?
In all likelihood, Paul would have simply declared they were no longer in fellowship with the body of Christ, and demand that no one have anything to do with them.
But so what? In today’s society, there would be a fight over who keeps the building, who keeps the church bank account, and the losing side would simply go across town to build another church. That is, after all, the way so many churches have begun in this country.
One point however is certain: it is possible for Christian people to no longer be “in the faith.” Their lives simply do not exhibit Jesus any more. Their brethren will urge them to repent, and encourage them to do so, but if they do not, they cannot be treated as a part of the body of Christ any more.
It reminds me really of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. Sanballat and Tobiah were his opponents. Both were worshipers of God, and yet, because they had chosen to mix so much of the world in their lifestyle, Nehemiah excluded them from God’s people – and the exclusion was obvious.
All of us should regularly ask: “Am I in the faith? Does my life show Christ to the world, or is it just a magnification of the world?” Whatever our answer, Jesus is not fooled. He knows the truth, and it is truth that determines eternity.