Truth without grace can be brutal. Grace without truth will become syrupy sentimentality. Truth and grace need to go together. In this letter we see Paul coming back to a situation that was addressed in 1 Corinthians 5 where a man was having a sexual relationship with his stepmother. This was happening and no one was addressing it. Paul is understandably incensed and gives the church instructions to dissociate with this so-called brother unless and until he repents. The idea here isn’t that only those who are perfect can be in good standing with the church. If that was the case it would be empty. No, the issue is that someone is blatantly disregarding propriety and morality and is being treated as if all is fine. Paul is clear that the church is to confront this “brother” with the truth of his immorality and if he chooses to persist than to not treat him as if he is a follower in good standing and at the same time pray that he is convicted of his sin. In our context at New Hope that would mean removing someone as a Partner with cause and praying that they would humble themselves before God and repent.
Now in this second letter, Paul is counseling the church to reach out to the disciplined brother who appears to have acknowledged his sin and is repentant. If not he could be locked into a spiral of guilt and shame. Reaching out with forgiveness and restoration is now their assignment. This is a picture of how truth and grace need to go hand in hand in our relationships in Jesus’ church. Here is a description of a healthy church’s reputation, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.” Colossians 1:6 (NIV) Without a proper understanding and application of this we become pawns in Satan’s hands and that is why Paul says we need to be on guard “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)