by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 15 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)
I refuse to allow the existence of my happiness to depend upon the actions of others. I will allow the degree of my happiness to depend on the actions of others. I will not allow myself to be unhappy or to lose my joy because of the behavior of someone else. I will allow myself to have joy and happiness only because of conditions within my ability to determine. If my joy is dependent upon your treatment of me, I can have joy only when you decide for me to have joy. If my joy is dependent upon my treatment of you, then I may have that joy any time I choose. If my joy is dependent upon my relationship with God, then I may have joy when I choose to do so. If my joy is dependent upon my service for others, then I may have that joy any time I choose to serve others. So the presence of my joy must not be dependent upon the actions of others and their behavior toward me. However, the degree of that joy may be so determined. In other words, I will not let you make me happy, but I will let you make me happier.
Even in church life the carnal sometimes prevails over the spiritual, and Christians sin against each other. The purpose of this chapter is to give instruction to the one who is sinned against. For years I have had what I call, “My Ten Commandments When Sinned Against.” These are ten things that I do when I find that someone has sinned against me.
Before entering the discussion of these ten commandments, we must make it clear that there is no selfish purpose or motive involved in these actions and reactions. The one supreme motive is TO RESTORE THE ONE WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST ME. I must look upon him as I would look upon any Christian who has committed any other sin. I must be grieved because it has strained his relationship with God. I must not allow my grief to exist because I have been wounded or offended. The truth is, if I love the Word of God and the God of the Word as I should, there is no way that I can be offended. Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
As we enter into these ten commandments, we will always keep before us that our purpose is to restore the offender. If you have sinned against me, I want you to have the joy that has been taken from you because of your offense. My purpose is to help you and, by God’s grace, to help you be restored!
I will have forgiveness in readiness before you sin against me. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I will always keep a reservoir of forgiveness so that it can be used immediately when sinned against. I will not allow myself the indulgence of the time that often transpires between being sinned against and offering forgiveness. That forgiveness will always be available and in abundant readiness immediately when the sin against me has been committed.
I will not impute your sin to you. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Notice here that I am to forgive those who offend me just exactly as God forgives those who offend Him. God not only forgives our sins, but He also justifies us. In other words, God keeps in readiness “justified forgiveness,” which means that God does not charge us with the sin. He does not record it against us. When a Christian is saved, he is justified by the faith which is placed in Christ. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If, therefore, I forgive you as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me, I must not only forgive you, but I must not charge you with the offense. In my mind, you never sinned against me. I call that “justified forgiveness.” Not only do I forgive you for what you’ve done, but I do not record what you have done. I do not think of you as one forgiven, but I think of you as one who has not sinned at all.
I will grieve for you, but not for what you have done to me. I will not grieve because I have an enemy; I will grieve because you are an enemy I will not grieve because I have been sinned against; I will grieve because you have sinned. I want you to have a good relationship with Christ. I want you to have peace. I want you to have fullness of joy, and you can have none of these when being offensive, so my grief is not for the wounded but for the wounder. My grief is not for the criticized but for the critic. My grief is not for myself, though I certainly want your love. My grief is for you because I want the best for you, and you cannot have the best when you have sinned against another.
I will do all that I can to help you remedy your situation. I will not retaliate. I will not be critical of you. I will not even share with others what you have done against me. My entire course of action will be that of seeking your restoration. I want you restored to fellowship with Christ. I want your joy restored, your peace restored and your happiness restored, so nothing that I do in the following commandments will be done to try to hurt you but to help you. I will not want for your hurt unless God chooses that method to bring you back to Himself. I will want the best for you and will do all that I can for that best to come your way.
I will ask God to let me suffer for you. I Corinthians 6:6-8, “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” Not only will my forgiveness be justified forgiveness, but it will be vicarious forgiveness. I will ask God to punish me instead of you if that can best serve to bring about your restoration. I must not forget that the entire purpose of these commandments is for you to be restored, and I must do all I can to bring that restoration about. Isn’t that the way that Jesus cared for our sins? He bore the suffering for us vicariously Do not forget that I am to forgive as God forgives, so if God took upon Himself the suffering for our sins, even so I must take upon myself the suffering for your sins if God will but let me do so. I have forgiven you. I have offered you with that forgiveness a justified forgiveness, and now I offer to you a vicarious forgiveness.
Certainly by now I want you to be restored. However, if you are not yet restored, I must continue to do what I can to help you find the peace you once had and the joy you once knew in Christ. If at any time while I am obeying these ten commandments, you are restored, then the use of the balance of the commandments will not be necessary. However, if having had forgiveness in readiness for you, having offered you justified forgiveness, having grieved for you, having decided to do all that I can to remedy your situation and having offered you a vicarious forgiveness with a willingness to suffer your penalty, I find that you are not yet restored, I must proceed to the next commandment.
I will turn you over to God for justice. Romans 12:17-20, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not forget that this justice that I seek for you from God is for your restoration.
Far too often I have heard this passage explained in a way to describe the Christian as one who wants his offender to be hurt and that God is certainly a better executor of this hurt than we can be. So it is taught that if you really want to hurt somebody, let God do it, and even blessing those that curse us is supposedly done in an effort to heap coals of fire upon his head. What a tragic teaching! How sad it is for us to teach God’s people to be good to somebody because it will make them feel bad, to love somebody because it will make them hurt. God teaches no such thing! We must never forget that the purpose for all of this is for restoration. We are not trying to see to it that someone gets punished for his sin unless that punishment will help to restore him.
We simply treat him with love. If he hates us, we love him. If he despises us, we pray for him. If he does ill to us, we do good to him and turn him over to the Lord for justice, hoping that that justice will lead him to restoration. We would rather that he not suffer at all, but if God chooses to use the tool of suffering to bring him back to joy, peace and restoration, we will be happy for that, but we will never be happy because he suffers. We are pleased only if that suffering leads to restoration. All of this must be remedial.
The word “vengeance” here has to do with justice, and the justice has to do with chastening, and the chastening we hope and trust will lead to repentance, and repentance will lead to a restoration of fellowship with God, and a restoration of that fellowship will lead the offender to regain his joy and peace.
Why should we want to use the same tactics he used? Why should we borrow Satan’s weapons to punish those who have punished us? Do not forget! The purpose of these ten commandments is restoration. If forgiving immediately brings it about, Commandment I is all that is necessary. If that fails, we will offer justified forgiveness and let our offender know that we are not charging the sin to him at all. Then we will attempt restoration by grieving for him and then doing all we can to remedy his situation, and then by asking God to let us suffer for him, and when all of those commandments have failed, we then turn him over to the Lord so God may use justice upon him in order that that justice may lead him back to his original fellowship and relationship with his God. If our brother is still not restored, we go to the next commandment.
I will turn you over to the Lord for chastening. Hebrews 12:10-12, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” In other words, I will ask God to chasten you, but I must remember through it all that I am not wanting you to be hurt. I am wanting you to be restored, and if asking God to chasten you leads to this restoration, I will be pleased to do so. I will not enjoy your suffering or your pain any more than a loving parent enjoys the suffering of the child he is spanking, but I will wish for it if it will lead to your restoration. Of course, the word “chastening” implies training or educating. God does not punish His children for sin. His measures of inflicting pain upon us are not vindictive. They are punitive and corrective and done in love. The loving parent has in mind training his child, improving his child, educating his child, and in doing this, oftentimes must use the inflicting of pain. Never forget, the purpose is remedial!
I would much prefer that my forgiveness in itself would bring you to restoration. I would love for my justifying you as if you had never sinned against me to accomplish this. I would hope that a long time before we get to Commandment 7, you have been restored to fellowship with your God and have received once again the sweet peace and joy that comes with that fellowship, and only for your restoration to that place will I want you to be chastened.
As has been implied, God does not punish Christians; He chastens them. Now it may look the same way and it may, as a fact, be the same action. God may do exactly the same thing to a saved man that He does to an unsaved man, but to the unsaved it is punishment; to the saved man it is chastening. He chastens those whom He loves. To the one who is not His child, He may inflict punishment for sin, and though He may use that same act upon the Christian, it will not be punishment; it will be chastening. It will be done for training, for educating and for restoring His child to Himself
Certainly we trust that by now the one who has sinned against us has been restored, but if not, there is another commandment.
I will turn you over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. I Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Notice especially the first part of verse 5, “to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh,” but don’t stop there. Notice the rest of the verse, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” It is folly for us to think that we are to say, “I tried to hurt him, and God tried to hurt him; now Devil, you hurt him.” This is contrary to the whole spirit of the Bible. It is contrary to the attitude of God toward His children. God is not talking here about a judgmental deliverance of the sinner to the executioner. God is simply saying He will exhaust every measure in order to restore the offender to Himself.
Another error that is taught concerning this subject is that this means we are to turn someone over to the Devil and say, “Devil, kill him!” That is not taught here. Notice that the destruction is of the flesh, the destruction of the carnality, the destruction of the methods that caused him to sin. God oftentimes will let the Devil use his weapons on us, but even then the purpose is for our restoration. I do not come with a vindictive spirit in a hateful manner and almost with delight saying to the Devil, “You can have him. Kill him.”
Turn to I Timothy 1:19-20, “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.” Now notice especially verse 20 where the Apostle says, “whom I have delivered unto Satan, THAT THEY MAY LEARN not to blaspheme.” What is the purpose of turning one over to Satan? THAT HE MAY LEARN. This is the same as the chastening in Commandment 7. Even in this action we are seeking restoration. This one, like all the commandments above, is for the good of the offender that he might be led to know once again the peace and joy he knew before he sinned against me. Even in turning him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, I am still interested in corrective measures, or as John Calvin said concerning this truth, “for medicinal purposes.” This is just another medicine that I will use in an effort for your spirit to be healed.
I will bless you, do good to you, pray for you and love you. Matthew 5:43, 44, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Romans 12:20, 21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” I will not combat hatred with hatred, but I will combat hatred with love. I will not combat cursing with cursing, but I will combat cursing with blessing. I will not combat spite with spite, but I will combat spite with prayer, hoping still that the weapons of love, blessing, prayer and kindness will lead to your restoration because I love you. I loved you before you sinned against me. I love you more now because you need me more. You need my love more, my blessings more, my prayer more.
I will not socialize with you. I Corinthians 5:9-11, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” II Thessalonians 3:14, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
Perhaps you are saying, “Now you are showing some hatred at last. You finally came to a commandment that is vindictive!” No, quite to the contrary. Even this commandment is remedial and medicinal as a last resort. I will not socialize with you, hoping that you will miss my fellowship. Of course, I am commanded in the Scriptures above not to socialize with you, but even this is an effort for you to be restored. I trust that you will miss my fellowship and that my withdrawal from socializing with you will lead to your restoration.
This does not mean that I will not be nice to you. I will speak to you, I will help you, I will bless you, I will pray for you, I will be kind to you, I will be gracious to you, I will feed you if you are hungry, I will clothe you if you are cold. I will do anything I can for you, but I will not socialize with you because I am commanded not to do so and because again I am using a tool that I trust and pray unto God will restore you to fellowship with God and to your relationship with Him that brought you peace and joy, and as a blessed by-product, restore you to myself.
In conclusion, if you are my enemy and if you have sinned against me, I love you and I want you restored. The commandments that I have listed above are simply different medicines in the apothecary that I trust will heal your wounded spirit and bring you back to your God and to me, your friend. Perhaps these medicines taste progressively worse, and I certainly trust that before the more drastic ones are needed, you will be restored. I do not want you to suffer. I do not want you to hurt, but far above that, I want you restored to your God and to your joy. If therefore, a little suffering and a little pain will be remedial and medicinal, I will want it for you, not so you can hurt, but so the joy of fellowship you once knew can be yours, because you see, my dear enemy, I love you!