ON REMOVING THE IMMORAL BROTHER
Quietly there exists in the scripture an instruction that few practice; remove the immoral brother is an instruction given to the church in 1st Corinthians 5:1-13, but to what effect (what’s the purpose of this command)? I believe we can see that this command is given in love to us by God, but what is its effect?
“5And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Denying that the Lord rebukes and chastens His children because of sin to cause in them zeal and repentance is the same as pushing away and denying the hand of the Father in Heaven!
This command to remove the immoral brother from our assemblies is a command rooted in love that is specifically designed to bring about the Lord’s discipline in the life of the unruly brother and instill the fear of Christ in all the children of God.
What needs to be understood about this is that it is directly related to discipline and when we fail to properly follow this we are, in essence, restraining the Father’s hand of discipline from unruly children!
It is a command that we go to someone to rebuke them, first in private, and then in public so that the whole assembly may learn to fear:
1st Timothy 5:20
“20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”
The discipline of the Lord is meant to destroy the flesh and cause in us zeal and repentance, therefore Jesus said in Revelation 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent”.
It is a good thing to rebuke an erring brother,
2nd Timothy 2:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And a wise brother will listen. Yet there comes a time when the stubbornness of our brother’s heart erects a wall that we ourselves cannot tear down and that brother must be handed over by the church for the destruction of his flesh so that he might be saved.
Behind this instruction is a spirit of order, love, and patience. Of discipline Paul wrote to the Thessalonians two following passages:
1st Thessalonians 5:14
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
2nd Thessalonians 3:13-15
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
It is not with a spirit of opposition that we rebuke a brother, but in love and patience with admonishment we should come to unruly brethren for their benefit.
Let our generation be warned, however, lest you think that Paul was preaching something that he did not receive from the Lord Jesus;
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Knowing the attitude of the Jews commonly taken towards a heathen and a tax collector, Jesus taught us how to properly restore a brother that has sinned. Through the witness of the church, first individually, and then collectively, we are to restore to ourselves the brothers that sin, yet if a brother refuses to repent, Jesus Himself said that he is to be “like a heathen and tax collector”; that means he is to be put out from among you.
Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.