All too often we have people serving in the Kingdom of God who tend to play the field. They might even be leaders who behave in the Jekyll and Hyde way. You know the story … its one man not two. The moral message of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is that man’s soul is paired with both elements of good and evil. These basic elements cannot be separated because man is defined by the conflict within his inner nature and how he deals with this duality. That is a story but the reality is that man has one nature … a lost nature, sinful, depraved, hopeless … until Jesus arrives by His Spirit in man’s heart, changing his soul from “lost” to “found”, from “darkness” to “light”, from the kingdom of satan to the Kingdom of God. Yet there is an element of the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome in those who either imitate the Spirit filled man yet remain in the world. This is where counterfeit comes in and we have seen it all too often over the years you and I have been associate with the Church because we are in the Kingdom of God. Yet there is another element … there are those who are converted to Jesus yet meddle in the ways of the world. How often are those who lead God’s people getting drunk? How often are those leading God’s people pushing the sexual button with the innocent and confused? How often are those leading the people of God fingering the Church’s cash box? You have heard the saying “where there is smoke there is fire.” I don’t know anything about the murder of a female pastor whose husband was found in his car in a sugarcane plantation a number of days after reporting his wife’s death. He is in a critical condition. I’m not the judge and I don’t know the facts … but as a total outsider … “how healthy was this relationship?” Some say it was volatile. If it was, why did she as a “pastor” remain in a leadership capacity? You see, even if she was mostly innocent (not that anyone is), she was still into the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome … one personality, character and face in the light and another in the dark! Read the following passage carefully
1Ti 1:18 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
Timothy is a young pastor. Both letters to him from Paul contain teaching, encouragement and warning. He needed this because so many young pastors have a tendency of pride and vulnerability. To fight the good fight of Gospel Ministry, he needed to do two important things.
(1) Hold onto the faith. Keep believing the doctrines about the Lord Jesus and His salvific work at Calvary. Failure here could well mean counterfeit Christianity. You cannot believe the glorious doctrines of the Christian Faith and not live it!
(2) Gospel Faith must lead to Gospel Morality. That is, maintaining a good conscience. Allow the morality to slip, the conscience permits many sins and the result leads to shipwrecking their faith. The pastor (or any other Christian) who gets drunk, commits adultery and fiddles the books has ruined his or her conscience and plays “Gospel”. We do not know who Hymenaeus and Alexander were. There are suggestions. Some say Hymenaeus was the one who denied the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Others say Alexander was the coppersmith. We don’t know. In 1 Timothy 1:19 with verse 20 following, it is possible that they were men who seemed to be converted and leaders in the Church. Did they fall into the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moral syndrome? Look what Paul does … and this is for disciplinary reasons … whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. This is serious! Those serving as or pretending to be servants of God, blaspheme God when they live in immorality! Take the drunken pastor … filled with the evil spirit he is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Take sexually immoral pastor … he subscribes to filth and not purity. Take the money thief … he prefers the world and materialism to seeking the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. Irrespective how “good” the person seemed to be, where they saved? Where they saved and confused? Where they saved and disobedient? The reference to … handed over to Satan … is very vague … but we do know it means discipline. The refusal to repent must lead to being handed over to satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
6) Returning to the pastor and the congregation at Laodicea we read
Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Although there is “lukewarm-ness”, self-deception remains. Is verse 19 meant for the pastor and entire congregation or just for certain people who are faithful? It is a hard one but I will lean towards everyone in the Church who is sincere, not necessary saved. I feel the next verse will help us see this better as we open it tomorrow. For today, there are five things to note … three to do with God and two required from man.
(1) God loves. He knows those He loves.
(2) God rebukes those he loves.
(3) God disciplines those He loves. Rebuke and discipline are not negative. They are positive because the action is qualified by God’s love. Like a parent, our heavenly parent tends to rebuke (point out our sin) and discipline (show us the pathway to walk) us for our benefit. Man needs to respond to God’s love by
(4) Being earnest. Be it the pastor or congregants or you and me today, the factor that distinguishes between counterfeit and genuine is earnestness. God knows who is serious for He sees the heart. He knows!
(5) Those who are serious will repent. The concept of repent is turn and return! Turn from sin and in this case, turn from blaspheming (abusing God’s name by living in sin) and return to God and godly morality. The one who refuses to return and turn will never repent and needs to be handed over to satan!
O Lord God, Your Church is so special and vital to fulfil Your will here on earth. Please protect, heal and restore Your Church to purity in Jesus. Amen.