The Ministry of Reconciliation Continued...
If We Go On Sinning Willfully
“It is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
“If we go on sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery anger which will destroy the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:26-31)
“Look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Heb. 12:15-17)
Withdrawing And Not Keeping Company
Sometimes it is necessary to withdraw from a person, and not eat with them or keep company with them. This has been called ‘shunning’ by some people, however that word is not used in Scripture regarding people. If a person’s self-will or addiction to serving and pleasing themself has not been broken, then withdrawing or avoiding them is sometimes the only thing that will help set them free.
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions, and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” (Rom. 16:17)
“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. Do not even eat with such a person.” (1 Cor. 5:11)
“We command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thes. 3:6)
“If anyone does not obey our word in this letter, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thes. 3:14-15)
“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.” (Gal. 6:1)
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
“But others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 23)
To achieve unity it requires discipline. To have discipline you need a line of authority. In every group of people there needs to be a line of authority with rewards for obedience and submission, and penalties such as discipline and temporary withdrawing when people are rebellious and disobedient.
For example, when a person disobeys the laws of the land there could be a fine or other form of discipline or correction. If the disobedience is severe, the individual will be put in jail. This is a form of withdrawing or not keeping company because that person cannot talk to, or eat with their family and friends, or with other members of society as long as they are in jail.
In a business, when an employee is obedient and does their job properly they can be rewarded with a higher income, or a promotion where they have more responsibility. If they are disobedient, they could be disciplined with a lower income or a demotion where they have less responsibility. If their disobedience cannot be corrected through discipline, they will be told they are not working here anymore. This is sometimes called being ‘fired’, and is a form of withdrawing or not keeping company.
In a family, children need to be trained and disciplined. “Bring your children up in the training and discipline of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) Children need to be taught and nurtured, and encouraged in what is right and Godly. If they are disobedient there needs to be discipline so that their selfishness and self-centredness is corrected. In severe cases, where the child does not honour and respect their parents, they might even run away, which again is withdrawing and not keeping company.
In the church, when a person is disobedient they are exhorted and rebuked. If they repent then fellowship is restored. If they do not repent then eventually they will need to be separated from the other members, and people will not eat with them or keep company with them. However, they are not an enemy, and we must pray for them, and show them the Scriptures that will lead them to confession and repentance so that fellowship can be restored.
Two Or Three Witnesses
To discipline a brother there needs to be two or three witnesses regarding his sin or sins.
“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. 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. 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.” (Matt. 18:15-17)
“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” (2 Cor. 13:1)
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” (1 Tim. 5:19-20)
“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Heb. 10:28)
Unity Of The Body Of Christ
All authority comes from God. None of us have our own authority. It is only to the extent that we are obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ that we have His authority. There is also authority when we use the Word of God, which proclaims God's message and power. As leaders in our family and in fellowships we cannot be bossy, forceful or dictators. We must be loving, kind and patient. And by setting an example of unselfishness and obedience and by laying down our life for others, as our master the Lord Jesus did for us, we set an example for those below us on the line of authority to copy and imitate. This creates a Godly unity where everyone regards everyone else as better than themselves, and no one wants any glory or recognition for themself. Everyone must be clothed in humility and submission to create a Godly unity, based on Christ’s unselfish love. Jesus laid down His life for us, so we must lay down our life for each other.
Godly discipline and temporary withdrawing is necessary to have unity in a group. You will have rebellion, disrespect and disobedience, if you don’t have Christ-like discipline and withdrawing. No group can survive if obedience and submission is not taught and practiced. You will have more and more people in the fellowship creating friction and disunity, and doing the work of the enemy. Anyone who steps out of the line of authority will soon be influenced and controlled by the enemy. When we are obedient in every line of authority,God will protect us from the enemy, and bless our life!
The family of God is the kindest, most loving line of authority because it is totally unselfish. The leaders lay down their lives for the followers. The Lord Jesus set the example by laying down His life for us. And His followers lay down their lives for each other.
“But, speaking the truth in love, grow up in all things unto Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:15-16)
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individual members of one another.” (Rom 12:4-5)
“From whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” (Col 2:19)
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor. 12:12-26)