Church of Christ
Mission USA

Withdrawal of Fellowship (part 2)

by Perry Sexton

      Church discipline is designed by the wisdom of God to save the erring. As in the case of the brother at Corinth and also the church there (above): “… that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). Consider James 5:19,20 “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; {20} Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” And Gal. 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

      Church discipline is designed by the wisdom of God to keep the church pure and thus saved. Please study these verses carefully: 1 Cor. 5:6,7; Ephesians 5:26,27; Rev. 2:14,20; 2 John 1:9‑11; let us remember and never forget Joshua chapters 6 and 7. In the case of Corinth consider 2 Cor. 7:12 "Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you" (see 2 Cor. 2:9). We cannot fellowship God and sin at the same time (1 John 1:5; Matt.6:24; 2 Cor. 6:14‑17; 2 John 9‑11). To not obey God in church discipline is to sin against God and those who need discipline!

      Church discipline is designed by the wisdom of God to keep the church's influence good before the world. Consider (1 Kings 9:6‑7) "But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: {7} Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:" It makes you wonder what the people were saying about the church at Corinth. Paul said to the Corinthian church "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you,...." (1 Cor. 5:1). What a terrible disgrace to the church! The Greek word for "commonly" means everywhere, etc., thus it was known practically by all. What a terrible “black eye” for the church. And what a great hindrance to the gospel! It is hard enough as it is to reach the lost, but it is even worse when the church has such a bad reputation. We all have heard, or heard of people saying such things as “I would not go there as long as ole hypocrite so and so goes there.” And so often we cover it up by saying such as “You live in a world of hypocrites, or you are going to be with them in hell, etc.” If, in fact, the brother or sister is a hypocrite, he/she needs to be disciplined by the church. There are those in many congregations who need to be withdrawn from if they do not repent.

      Church discipline is a serious matter (2 Thess. 3:6). If we neglect it are we not rebelling against God? If we do not obey God in church discipline, do we love God (cp. John 14:15)? And do we love the one in sin if we do not discipline him? Remember, God loved the erring one enough to give His Son for him and Jesus loved the sinner so much that He died for him. The Father and Son’s love for the erring church member is extended through proper church discipline. Are we hindering this great love? Are we guilty of allowing the church to suffer shame, and of allowing a brother to be lost in sin because we do not have the love of God in us to discipline him? Please read Ezekiel 3:16-21; 2 Thessalonians 3:6. ♥