Category Archives: Church Discipline

These posts deal with scriptural teachings on church discipline and their carrying out.

How Should We Correct Our Brethren?

With all the current events the church faces today and the deep, deep, divides in our midst, there is one question that needs to be asked: “what is the Biblical means of correcting brothers and sisters who are in error within the Church?”

We must ask ourselves what is our aim in bringing correction, and how do we handle our brothers and sisters when we find ourselves in gridlock and unable to come into agreement with each other?

PASSAGES TO CONSIDER:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

This passage gives us great wisdom in knowing both “how” and “to what end” we deal with those who have been “taken captive by the devil to do his will”. We need to make sure that those we find ourselves at odds with are, indeed, at odds with God and have truly been taken captive by the devil to do his will; we must not mistake a brother or sister being at odds with our position as the same as being taken captive by the devil to do his will. If our opposition to a brother comes from strife within our own heart, then we must humble ourselves and seek peace with our brothers and sisters before our sin consumes us whole.

James 3:13-18 (esp. v18) “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show his works by his good life in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Another passage that speaks volumes. Here we find that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (v18). The mightiest debater will loose the kingdom of God with each argument that he or she wins, but whoever is faithful to Christ will win the kingdom of God in peace!

1 Peter 3:8-9, 15-16 “Finally, be all of one mind, be loving toward one another, be gracious, and be kind. Do not repay evil for evil, or curse for curse, but on the contrary, bless, knowing that to this you are called, so that you may receive a blessing.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and fear. Have a good conscience so that evildoers who speak evil of you and falsely accuse your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

Today we find that those who preach the truth may be falsely accused as much within the “church” as without; but this reality does not change how we minister to the Lord, rather, it forces us to purify how we minister to the Lord. It forces us to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, or be given over to bitterness and strife.

Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I suggest this passage requires us to acknowledge the “humanness” of the person that we are dealing with. By “humanness” I do not have in mind any humanist worldview, nor do I have in mind that we consider their sin and excuse it “because they’re only human” (which is a humanist viewpoint as well). Rather, I have Genesis 1:27 and 1 Peter 1:18-19 in mind; we must have God’s purposes in mind as we approach our brethren. We must never view our brothers and sisters as anything less than those made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. To approach one another with any lower view is to de-humanize our brothers and sisters in Christ and insult the integrity of Christ who gave His blood as a ransom for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To any brother or sister who thinks he or she is walking in Christ, and yet, who does not bear the burdens of his or her brethren, I ask you to reconsider whether or not you are fulfilling the law of Christ. We cannot fulfill the law of Christ if we do not “restore one another in a spirit of gentleness”.

2 Cor. 6:11 & 10:1 “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open!”
“Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ- who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called. With all humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another in love, be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I believe it is with closed hearts and a spirit weary of unity that often dominates the affairs of the Church today. And for this my heart will never cease to mourn- as I believe Christ’s heart is broken and will not be satisfied by anything less than unity within the body.

1 Peter 3:1-4 (for a word to our beloved sisters in Christ) “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, as they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not let your adorning be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine clothing. But let it be the hidden nature of the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Isaiah 32:17 “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

I believe there is reason here to be forward-looking in our approach with our brethren. We do not minister for people with the present alone in mind, but with eternity in mind. So shall we see the necessity of “peace” when we begin to see eternity.

Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness upon you.”

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS

Scripture teaches us not to be quarrelsome when correcting one another, but to do so in humility and with hearts wide open. This means that there is potential to be “hurt” when you come to someone with your heart wide open- they can wound you deeply- but our aim in correcting our brethren is not self-preservation, but rather, the edification of the whole body. The manner of our conduct towards the brethren we seek to correct should be in gentleness, patience, and peace.

I strongly urge careful and diligent consideration be given to the above passages.

We can never forget that “it is God who works in us, both to will and to do His good pleasure”; we must offer ourselves to the Lord as instruments of His healing, but never try to supplant Him as “the Great Physician”.

May this strengthen the hands that hang down who are weary from brokenness. And may God give wisdom as we learn to be peacemaker in a bitter and spiteful world so that Christ may be glorified according to His last petition. Amen!

 

10 Commandments: the idolatry commandments

This is the first lesson in our series on the 10 Commandments.  We begin with the first two commandments on idolatry.  Our objective is to expose the deeds of idolatry and turn our fellowship away from idols with the ultimate end that we might “come out and be separate”.

The “I’m Not Called To That” Excuse

Ever notice how the chief description of Jesus’ life and conduct in the Bible was “I must be about My Father’s business”? That’s because it was written of Jesus, “Behold, I have come- in the volume of the book it is written of Me- to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).  Jesus’ life was known by His acts of compassion that glorified God, His powerful sermons calling all men everywhere to repentance in His name, and His awesome demonstrations of the power of God.

Then, after Jesus ascends into Heaven and the Holy Spirit is sent upon His waiting Church, the collective Body of Christ takes on these chief attributes itself; the Church becomes known for her acts of world-renowned compassion, soul piercing calls to repentance, and awe-inspiring demonstrations of the power of God! No individual member of the body seemed totally disconnected from these works; while one member may not preach, he or she might work miracles or be engaged in great works of compassion.  Indeed, toward those individual members who are slack or impaired in doing the work of God, we’re exhorted to “strengthen the hands which hang down and the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).

But we do not hear Jesus’ answer, “I must be about My Father’s business” in the Church today, instead, we hear “Oh, I’m not called to that ministry!”

Ask members in the Church today if they preach the gospel to their neighbors, and many of them will tell you “that’s not my calling”.  Then ask them about acts of compassion and they’ll say, “OH No! That’s not my calling!” Inquire about the divine demonstration of the power of God and you’ll hear the same retort, “Some people are into that, but that’s not really my calling”.

I have to wonder, what is your calling, Church?

Pew sitting, hint dropping, and facebook-page-liking doesn’t seem to be the call of God that I see in the Bible.

Understand that the primary offices of the Church were given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry…” (Ephesians 4:12).  Therefore, it greatly concerns me where I see a glut of Sunday-school teaching but no works of God being accomplished!  It is alarming to me that the true works of God seen in Jesus have been replaced in the Church by women’s knitting clubs, Superbowl services, and the whole colorful host of our church programs.

I believe we are called to the works of ministry seen in and commissioned by Jesus Christ our Lord, and that all the other peripheral programs of our day are just easier and more appealing distractions from the work you and I are supposed to be doing in Jesus’ name!

Ask yourself why the Church today prays so little?  Because she has nothing to pray about!!!  She’s not busy doing the divine work of God that no flesh can do on its own- she’s distracted by a flood of worldly cares!

Ask yourself why Christians today study their Bible’s so little?  Because they have nothing to study the Bible for!!!  They’re not busy engaging the powers of darkness which no carnal weapons can withstand!

Prayer calls upon God for the divine accomplishment of His will, and the Word of God is not His divine Blockbuster hit, it’s the sword of the Spirit, mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and subduing the spiritual powers of the enemy!

Oh pray to God that the Church again sets her hand to the plow and gets busy about the work of God- and then go yourself to His work- for in that day the mighty works of God will be seen like they have never been seen before!

I believe God is preparing a people through whom He will demonstrate His power and righteousness to the whole world, but I do not believe it will be like the days of Pentecost when 5,000’s converted at a time, rather, I believe it will be like the days of Noah, and we shall see God work through that small faithful remnant to do His will and glorify His name.

My question to you tonight is twofold: what is your calling, Church, and are you doing your work?

Important Questions: Should the Church Name & Oppose False Teachers?

There’s a new kind of wisdom being preached that says it’s fruitless to name and oppose false teachers, and that, instead, we should apply ourselves to other more fruitful endeavors.

So that is the question we will be address.

Should the Church bother itself with naming and opposing false teachers?

LIMITTING THE BODY

Double standards are something that I try to keep an eye out for when considering what I’m hearing, and I both see and experience a double standard when I encounter this kind of wisdom; namely, that those who say that it is fruitless to oppose false teachers because we should be applying ourselves to more fruitful endeavors then apply themselves to opposing anyone who names and opposes false teachers.

So, while it may not be every member’s place in the body to name and oppose false teachers, we have to ask ourselves if there is a place for that function anywhere in the body, and, if so, does this new wisdom limit those parts of the body in which this work has a place?

GOD’S STANDARD

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron… If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

~1 Timothy 4:12-6

Among those things that Paul exhorted Timothy to be a good minister of Jesus Christ in instructing the brethren in was the dangers of deceiving spirits and demonic doctrines that false teachers speak in hyposcirsy.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

John follows Paul’s exhortation by encouraging the brethren to test every spirit to see whether or not they are from God because of the multitude of false prophets that have gone out into the world.

The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

In God’s standard, no one was exempt from being tested; not even an apostle! Far from being criticized for testing all things that were said, the Bereans were praised for their diligence.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Jude 3-4

Jude found it necessary to exhort the brethren to contend earnestly for the faith because of the false teachers who had crept in unnoticed.

When we tell members of the body that they are fruitless for opposing those false teachers and false prophets who sneak in bringing destructive heresies into the body, we do not uphold God’s standard, we oppose it.

It is just to answer today’s question by asking another question: should the Church bother itself with opposing those members who feel led to name and oppose false teachers? Invariably most people who do not feel comfortable with one will engage in the other.

OPPOSING BY NAME?

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good concsience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. ~1 Timothy 1:18-20

One function of naming a false teacher or prophet is that it makes it more difficult for them to sneak into an assembly unnoticed and introduce their destructive heresies elsewhere. Paul did not shy away from naming people who were in error;

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18

The message of false teachers was viewed as a cancer not to be ignored; both the message and the messenger were named and opposed.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctring that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. ~Romans 16:17-18

The unity and liberty of the body was of such importance that Paul instructed the brethren in Rome to keep watch for individuals who bring division and bondage and avoid them because they do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own appetites. The duty to keep watch is not reserved for an apostle only, but for the brethren as a whole.

LETTING THE BODY WORK

A city that shames its watchmen will be overthrown when the enemy invades. I believe we need to acknowledge individuals who know God’s word and heed their warnings when they sound the alarm against the wolves they spot trying to sneak into the assembly.

Our shepherds need to keep watch over the flock; let us not reject their tending.

When I hear the new wisdom that discourages watchmen from sounding the alarm, I look at the state of the Western Church and I find little reason to trust this new wisdom. But what really dismays me is that those who don’t want to put their fingers on the name of false teachers will so readily apply themselves to shaming anyone who does.

This is the real travesty; our watchmen have become the hunted!

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Unity vs. Denominationalism

We’re continuing our lesson series on the Corinthian letters with 1st Corinthians 1:10-17.

I believe this section from Paul’s writings is one of the most timely exhortations for the Church in our day as we find ourselves smack in the middle of 37,000 distinct denominations, countless scholarly opinions on each verse, and an ever widening schism in the brotherhood!

DRUNKENNESS

There’s something that is weighing heavily on my heart right now; it’s a burden I feel from the Holy Spirit who is being deeply grieved in our age.   I’ve seen this particular issue devastate the Church abroad in China, for whom I pray earnestly, and I see it here in the US bringing the same destruction to the Church.

I am speaking about drunkenness.

The Word of God doesn’t condemn alcohol, and, therefore, I am not addressing those who merely take a glass of wine at dinner (etc).  I am, however, addressing those who sacrifice soberness of mind to fill themselves with wine, and warning you because I love you enough to speak God’s precise truth to you, that you must stop this because no drunkard will inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

NO FELLOWSHIP

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.”~ 1st Corinthians 5:11

I don’t care about what other people say, or the eloquent ways that people will tell you that “it’s ok even for Christians to have ‘a lil’ fun”; in God’s eyes it is not fun, and it is not harmless.

We’re not supposed to even eat with a person that claims to be a Christian and gets drunk.  This sin is given along with sins of sexual immorality, covetousness (which is idolatry!) extortion, and revelry.

This is serious to God.

The Bride of Christ is to be holy and blamelesswithout spot or wrinkle because Jesus Christ is worthy of a perfect bride!

We must not allow sin to leaven the Church.

“But why?”

Leaven spreads quickly; it takes but one generation for an entire generation in the Church to be lost.  We must not allow sin to leaven the Church because Christ is worthy of His holy inheritance and He will not accept any part that is defiled.

It seems to me that anyone who thinks this is no big deal does not share the same mind as Christ, because the Holy Spirit of Christ commands that should not even eat with a believer if they partake in these sins!

DO NOT BE DECEIVED

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” ~1st Corinthians 6:8-10

 

Why does God’s word tell us not to be deceived?  Because there are people out there who will try to tell you that it is ok for Christians to partake in these sins.  God knew that people would try to deceive you into thinking that there is “no harm” in “having a lil fun every once in a while”.

Drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but will inherit wrath with the sons of disobedience.

It is not my job to convince you of God’s wisdom; I am here simply to warn you.  The destruction of drunkenness, both physically and spiritually, is obvious to all who have the mind of Christ, and, through love, have become co-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom of God.

If you have the mind of Christ, judge for yourself if drunkenness is acceptable in the Kingdom of God.

Do you not know that we are to have a sober mind, offering thanksgiving to God in sincerity and truth, praising the glory of His grace with sacrifices of praise?

Even so, drunkards will not inherit the Kingdom of God, “thus sayeth the LORD”.

 

THE WORKS OF THE FLESH

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ~Galatians 5:19-21

 

I have great doubt over many young people today who do not seem to be able to see what God’s Word tells us is obvious.  Sins like drunkenness are obvious works of the flesh, according to God, because they have absolutely nothing to do with those who walk by the Holy Spirit.

Many people are confused why they feel so far off from God, yet, if you would accept the testimony of God, you would understand that it is because you are walking in the flesh and not the Spirit.

Other people don’t even know how far off they are from God because of their blindness, being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Be very careful.  You will not fool God!  The works of the flesh are obvious to Him, at least.

 

HIS SABBATH REST

I ask my brethren to read Hebrews 4:1ff and consider what God has revealed to us about His Sabbath rest: we are told that there is a “promised rest”, that rest which Israel failed to enter because of their disobedience.

The Sabbath rest of God is to rest from the works of our flesh.  God’s rest is not to rest from righteousness, for we are commended to “give all diligence” to the things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:1-11).  But, just as God rested from His work, so also are we to rest from the works of our flesh.

If you remain in disobedience to God through the works of your flesh, you will also fail to enter His rest and be cut off, just as they were cut off, and every one of them in that generation died in the wilderness!

 

CONCLUSION

Brethren, here is my conclusion: to put off the old man, with all the lusts of the flesh, and put on Christ, being renewed in your thinking by the Spirit of God.  Go unto Christ, and be washed in the water of His Word, and be cleansed from the futility of your mind.

I do not write this to those of you who do not have the mind of Christ, but I write this to those of you who have loved Jesus Christ your Savior, and hunger and thirst for righteousness!

ON MAKING A DISTINCTION

Jude 1:22-23

22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

I wanted to briefly address Jude’s instructions to the Church to make a distinction on those we’re ministering to: Jude tells us to have compassion on some people, while on others, save with fear.

The reason I feel compelled to address this issue is because I often see brothers trying to apply one approach to the way they deal with people: sometimes the approach is based in the Word of God, which is good, and indeed, however we deal with people, it needs to be according to righteousness in the will of God, which is testified of in His word, but it is sometimes narrowly restricted to one side of God’s manifold (many-sided) wisdom.

But what this passage tells me is that a “one size fits all” approach to dealing with people is not Biblical.

HAVE COMPASSION ON SOME

Isaiah 42:3

3A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.

The word of God speaks of the bruised reed and smoldering ember: Jesus will not break the one who is already broken, neither will He quench the one who is flickering, rather, He binds up the brokenhearted and fans the flame that it might not go out.

I have seen ministers, especially those who do the work of an evangelist or street preacher, that approach their labors entirely from the perspective of breaking those they encounter.  They have rightly observed that many people have become stubborn, and the softness of preaching in today’s generation lends itself to deception, so they come with foreheads of flint, as the LORD said He would cause Jeremiah the prophet to have a forehead of flint, but they do so in every situation.

Sometimes these men are this way because they have become “battle hardened” from always being forced to contend against the many lies and deceptions of the enemy: perhaps they lack pure spiritual fellowship with another brother because they have yet to find such fellowship in anyone, or, they have been put in an environment or position that has caused them to have to always contend more zealously for the faith.

Either way, I see that there is an error that is easy to fall into of not making a distinction on those whom we seek to minister to; it is easier to apply a cookie-cutter mold to how we minister into the lives of people, but it is not how we’re commanded to minister.

There are many people that have already been broken; the hand of the LORD has already weighed upon their life, their spirit has been humbled, and they have been pierced by the living Word of God!  Likewise, there are souls weighed down by heavy yokes of discouragement and bound under bondage to ungodly guilt, and these souls need the healing hand of righteous men and women of God who have been perfected in the love of God to have compassion upon them, that they might receive the ministry of reconciliation to God with joy and gladness in their hearts!

BUT OTHERS SAVE WITH FEAR

Meanwhile, there is a great multitude of people who find themselves in an altogether different situation: they are being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin in their life and becoming dull of hearing to the point of deafness.  Sin is ruling and reigning in their life and they are placing themselves under the wrath of God to be revealed in the final Day of Judgment.  Still many more that have never “fallen upon the Rock of Christ to be broken”; their flesh remains alive, uncrucified, and dead in its transgression so that it cannot receive the life-giving Spirit of God because of unrepentance.

I see many more brethren falling into error by trying to bring compassion and understanding to those who merely take advantage of these tools to their very own destruction.

We sometimes watch as a brother begins to entangle himself in sin, and we say nothing, hoping that if we simply “lend a listening ear” and speak soft words to him, he will come to his senses and turn from destruction.

Isaiah 30:10

10Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.

Proverbs 27:5

5Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.

 

Yet there are people who ask for soft words precisely because of their rebellious hearts; they seek from God’s ministers a kind of cruel compassion that leads to their own destruction.  As others have observed, there is a multitude of people who are being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and their only hope is that they would receive the treasure of the fear of God so that they might repent from their sins and be saved.  To such people as these it is necessary that we preach in such a way as from the Lord, hating even the garment stained with sin!  Therefore, God’s word tells us that “open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed”.

Sometimes when we conceal our love, the love of Christ that compels us to persuade men everywhere knowing the terror of the Lord (2nd Corinthians 5:11ff), we do more harm to the soul of the person we care about than would have been done by a timely rebuke.

I have seen proper discipline implemented in the Church and the value of preaching with the fear of God; the soul the is, for a time, turned away by these things, sometimes returns from his or her wandering when this blessed treasure, the fear of God, has its full work.

CONCLUSIONS

Sometimes I think people lean towards showing compassion on people because their experience appears to prove this to be “a more successful approach”; but I caution my brothers and sisters against this for the following reasons: I believe the reason this appears to be more successful is because the soul who is in the position of having already been broken is far easier to reach than the one who is as yet still unbroken and hardened.  The person whose spirit has been humbled is always in a far better place than the one whose spirit is still exalted.  While it appears that many more people are turned away by preaching the fear of God, I believe this is only because there are so few willing to humble themselves in the first place.  What we are observing is merely different stages in a person’s life, either the point in which they turn away from God, or the point in which they turn to Him.

I hope this post can serve as an exhortation to encourage my brethren to learn to make a distinction on those whom they are ministering to, and not shy away from applying either one or the other tool.

May the grace and mercy of God abound to all my brethren, near and far off, as you receive the instruction of God’s grace and the salvation of His mercy, amen!

Remove the Immoral Brother: Part 2

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?

DISCIPLINE

Hebrews 12:5-7

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?

Revelation 3:19

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 3:19As 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;

Matthew 18:15-17

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.

THEREFORE…

Hosea 6:1

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.

 

Remove the Immoral Brother: Part 1

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. 

12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’”1st Corinthians 5

Does this instruction sound unloving to you?  How can a loving God instruct His children to carry out such a command?  I believe that this command is a command of love that should be rightly obeyed in faith.

AN EXAMPLE TODAY

Usually this command is altogether ignored and when it is practiced it is quite often abused by power-hungry men.  Consequently there are very few brothers in my generation that have personal witness of this command being rightly carried out.

I have personal knowledge of this command being practiced correctly in a small country-side church when I was a very young boy in a largely un-churched community.

One of their young men began living a life of sexual immorality.  The elders became aware of his immorality and the elders- not the membership- confronted him, but to no avail because he would not repent.

Eventually the eldership “expelled their immoral brother” and he was not allowed fellowship with the church.  There were no other churches in the community for him to go to (because churches now-a-days do not support each other in these decisions to remove the immoral brother) and so he was sent out into the world.  And this brother stayed out among the world for nearly 10 years.

Accordingly, this man was dealt with directly by God for 10 years and tasted the bitter brew that is the worlds life as he lived under the corruption of Satan.

When God had finished dealing with him, His grace returned the brother to the church in repentance, conviction, and testimony.  The church welcomed him back into fellowship with open arms and, today, he is serving as one of their faithful elders!

GOD’S COMMANDS ARE LOVE

The above passage from 1st Corinthians 5 is almost wholly rejected in the American church today, and I do not think we are any better off for having taken the easy way out of this command.  Is the church more Christ like today?  Is she purer today than she was when she implemented this command?  Sexual immorality, divorce, and abortion rates are actually on the increase in the church.

I believe the above commandment is a commandment of wisdom and love from God given to be carried out by the elders of the church for her benefit.

So what is the command?  If there are “evil persons” among you, such as those practicing sexual immorality, covetousness, extortion, or idolatry, the Church is told to judge (vv. 12, 13) and remove them, handing them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh so that they may learn their lesson and be saved in the end (v. 5).

Paul did not commend the Corinthian church for their “glorying” that they “had not removed the leaven from the lump”, rather, he rebuked her for it!

I want to draw attention to something: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (v. 8).  This command from the Lord has to do with the leavening and un-leavening of the Lord’s communion!

If you’ll read the parable of the new wine and old wine in Luke 5:37ff, you’ll see this very same teaching regarding the exclusivity of the old and new creations.

The feast that we celebrate is the Lord’s Supper, and that is with the un-leavened bread of sincerity and truth; therefore, we cannot celebrate it if there remain some who are leavened.  And this, too, is love, for anyone who eats and drinks the Lord’s Supper in an improper manner is himself eating and drinking condemnation.

THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”—2nd Corinthians 5:18

We’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation through which God is reconciling to Himself a holy people.  There are many things that comprise this ministry of reconciliation and it is our joy to learn how to carry them out properly.

For the protection of the church and the restoration of the individual member, there comes a time when the brethren can  no longer deal directly with a rebellious son and we must entrust him to the care of God and hand him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh by dispelling him from our fellowship.

When churches welcome brothers that have been dispelled, thinking that they are showing compassion and godly-love, they are taking the place of a wife stepping between a father that is rightly disciplining his child for the good.  Rather than seeing the ministry of reconciliation being fulfilled, we are seeing it fall apart because it is not carrying out all the instructions of the Lord.

WHAT SHOULD OUR ANSWER BE?

Should the church be like the son who said, “yes, I will obey” and then did not go out and do the thing that his father told him to do?  Or should we be the one’s who are saying, “here I am, Lord send me”?

I believe that I sin and stumble, even to this day; I groan and I struggle in this manner because I know what is righteous through the revelation of the Holy Spirit and sin is contemptuous to me.  And I am constrained for my own benefit in the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I repent and confess because the Lord is faithful to create a new heart in me, just as He promised He would do in times past!

FINAL CONSIDERATION

20Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”—Ezekiel 3:20-21

God says that the righteous man who turns from his righteousness shall die.  But God says that He will lay the blood on the hand of His servant who did not warn Him.

Brethren, we are righteous in Christ Jesus alone- if I see one of you turning from Christ and committing iniquity (for it is written, “let the one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”- 2nd Timothy 2:19) and I do not warn you, you surely will die, and that, my brothers, is not love!

However, if I warn you, and you do not sin, then you will live in Christ Jesus because you were wise in taking warning, and I will not be guilty of your blood.

Therefore, let us be careful how we judge God by what we say is or is not love in His holy word.  It is with wisdom and love that God works out all His will.