Church of Christ
Mission USA

Withdrawal of Fellowship (part 1)

by Perry Sexton

            “The Forgotten Commandment,” as one brother titled his booklet, will certainly not be forgotten by God! His Word, all of it, shall be the bases of our judgment in the great last day (Rev. 20:12). The world in general is in chaos: evil abounds, murderers are rampant, the innocent suffer and children are influenced to do evil; much blame can rightly be placed on a lack of discipline. Many problems in society would be greatly curtailed if proper discipline was enforced: military, schools, home, individual and in the church. In the Bible, the importance of discipline is seen in every walk of life. In the church of the Living God, discipline takes no back seat. Only eternity will reveal the scores of lost people because of lack of proper church discipline: those who needed it, but never received it; those that should have administered it, but did not obey God and did not love their brother or sister enough to correct them. Even, and especially, physical family members (of the church) who did not love their family members enough to try to save them.

            Discipline involves teaching, training, and punishment when necessary. Church discipline is both "preventive" and "corrective." As we know it is better to prevent an illness than cure it; wiser to prevent an accident than bandage up the injuries. Discipline should be a part of every aspect of life. In society: teaching, training and punishment are necessary. As discipline breaks down in the nation (and world), so does morality. Think how it would be without teaching, training and punishment concerning the traffic laws! Would you want to be on the highways with a total breakdown of discipline in this area? It is bad enough as it is.

            Proper discipline begins with the individual. All would do very well to follow the example of the apostle Paul: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). As the individual exercises proper discipline in himself and then to his family, you have a very strong bases for a high-quality society. Let us not break the link.

            Church discipline is a must and not an option, if we are truly going to follow Jesus all the way and please God. Discipline is just as binding as Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Mark 14:22, 23; Heb. 10:25; etc. Church discipline is a commandment, and a very strong one: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thess. 3:6). Ignore it? I think one would be ignoring his salvation! Ponder this question which we often use to show people the importance of baptism: Are there any non-essential commandments? Can you name one?

            Church discipline is an act of love. We cannot be of the mind of God without church discipline. Compare: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19). If we fail to discipline we fail to love. Often times the erring remain lost in sin because we fail to love them, and fail to love God by not obeying Him. If we truly love our children we will discipline them. If we truly love our brethren we will discipline them. If we truly love God we will obey Him. God knows best! There are many things in the spiritual realm that parallel the earthly, but on a much higher plane. As God loves us, parents are to love their children (Tit. 2:4) and that includes proper discipline: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Prov. 13:24).  And brethren are to love one another and that includes discipline! God loves us so much so that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us (John 3:16). And God disciplines us: "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb 12:6). Love is truly the bases of chastening (Heb. 12:5-11).

            Consider Paul's example of church discipline. A brother at Corinth was in fornication: he was in great and shameful sin. But the church was doing nothing about it: the church was in sin also. Paul wrote to the church concerning these matters.  Note what Paul told the church to do: "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for other problems as well: "I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you." (1 Cor. 4:14); "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" (1 Cor. 4:21). After this, the church did repent and Paul wrote to them again: "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you" (2 Cor. 2:4). Paul said it was an act of love. ♥  [continued]