Studies │Separating from Evil │ Separations in Fellowship

March 29, 2015 │Separating from Evil │ Separations in Fellowship

March 29, 2015

Separating from Evil and

 Separations in Fellowship

Over the course of many years, I have been challenged by the evil behavior within myself and my friends. In so many ways, Jesus provided clear teaching about dealing with evil. He always preached repentance leading to salvation, and for believers, confession of sin to cleanse believers from sin as they walked in the light with Jesus and had fellowship with other believers. 1See 1 John 1-10, page 1904). A greater problem arises when people who identify themselves as believers persist in evil behavior, without any repentance for their actions. This problem raises the issue of what did Jesus teach about fellowshipping with unrepentant people, persistently practicing evil, who identify themselves as believers. So, let us turn to the Bible for answers about these important spiritual issues.

Personal Behavorial Failures

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, page 1787, the Holy Spirit commanded that believers judge those people within the church who have serious moral and spiritual problems with their personal behavior.

1 Corinthians 5:11, Page 1787

“But actually I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.”

Notice the verse has a specific list: “immoral person, covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler. . . .” We must remove those wicked people from the fellowship of the church. Of course, we should always be mindful that the goal will be first restoration of the believer through a process of repentance and forgiveness. 2See Galatians 6:1-5, page 1826; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, page 1850; compare the process of preferably winning the brother described in Matthew 18:15, page 1533, but without repentance, results in the further disciplinary steps leading to removal of the unrepentant sinner from the fellowship (Matthew 18:16-18, page 1533; compare Luke 17:1-10, page 1634). In some cases, people who call themselves “believers” persist in sin. In my case, I had a friend who lived with a woman, engaging in immoral behavior with her. I read this passage to him and urged him to consider the matter. He went home, and came back later and told me that he did not find any immorality at his home. I then asked him if he had read the Bible passage we discussed and considered his immorality in light of that passage. He refused to repent and continued to live in sin. Therefore, absent repentance, I told him I could no longer pray with him, eat with him, or associate with him, as described in the passage. Most believers have never moved to end fellowship with anyone based upon the Bible and the commands of Jesus Christ. We see all around us evil practices tolerated or promoted in the assemblies throughout the world. Most people, however, seem even more oblivious to the teachings of the New Testament concerning those who promote evil doctrine within the church.

Factional Failures

Within the church, certain people will stand up and divide the church into factions. Some people within churches display factious behavior by stirring up foolish controversies with strife and disputes about the Law and genealogies. 3The Greek term for “factions” (“αἱρετικὸν“) describes a person who causes divisions or schisms in the Body of Christ based upon foolish controversies causing strife and disputes in the assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, page 1795, Paul wrote that “there must also be factions (“αἱρέσεις”) among you, so that those approved (“δόκιμοι”) may become evident among you. Compare the person approved (“δόκιμον“) to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, page 1862).

Titus 3:10-11, Page 1867

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”

Do not misunderstand. People today do not generally have disputes about the law and genealogies, but they do have disputes about all kinds of teaching in the Bible. By forsaking the truth, false teachers distort the teachings of Jesus. As people promote evil teachings, they create strife and factions within the church. Such people who promote evil doctrine are called “heretics.” Titus 3:10-11, page 1867, provides clear guidance on dealing with heretics. Notice in Titus 3:11, page 1967, that the heretic is perverted 4The Greek word for “perverted” (“ἐξέστραπται”) means someone has been turned aside from correct behavior. Notice that the word occurs here as a perfect passive indicative, highlighting that the cause of the turning has not been emphasized by the verb. Instead, the state of perversion characterizes this person. and is sinning. 5The Greek term for “sinning” (“ἁμαρτάνει“) means to miss the mark, to transgress. Compare Paul’s use of the term in 1 Corinthians 6:18, page 1788, where he explained that the immoral man sins against his own body. In contrast to the perversion, the active voice of “sinning” clearly identifies that the factious man sins continuously by promoting his evil factional activities. The heretic stands self-condemned. 6The Greek term for “self-condemned” (“αὐτοκατάκριτος“) means that his own actions prove his guilt. Furthermore, the Greek term “is” (“ὢν“) emphasizes the continuous, persistent nature of his self-condemnation. His own actions convict him of factious behavior. Therefore, the church must reject the factious man, which means remove that heretic from the fellowship. 7The Greek term for “reject” (“παραιτοῦ”) means to shun, or refuse to associate with that person. Compare other uses of the same term: 1 Timothy 4:7, page 1857, “have nothing to do with worldly fables;” 1 Timothy 5:11, page 1858, “But refuse to put younger widows on the list . . . ;” 2 Timothy 2:23, page 1863, “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations . . . .” We may glean from these passages that people promoting factions must be rejected and removed from the fellowship until they repent and are restored. When you remove the factious man, then the factions tend to disappear from one assembly. The factious man, however, may well find a new home in the group which does not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and help them turn away from the truth, embracing myths instead (2 Timothy 4:3-4, page 1864).

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. See 1 John 1-10, page 1904).
2. See Galatians 6:1-5, page 1826; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, page 1850; compare the process of preferably winning the brother described in Matthew 18:15, page 1533, but without repentance, results in the further disciplinary steps leading to removal of the unrepentant sinner from the fellowship (Matthew 18:16-18, page 1533; compare Luke 17:1-10, page 1634).
3. The Greek term for “factions” (“αἱρετικὸν“) describes a person who causes divisions or schisms in the Body of Christ based upon foolish controversies causing strife and disputes in the assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11:19, page 1795, Paul wrote that “there must also be factions (“αἱρέσεις”) among you, so that those approved (“δόκιμοι”) may become evident among you. Compare the person approved (“δόκιμον“) to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, page 1862).
4. The Greek word for “perverted” (“ἐξέστραπται”) means someone has been turned aside from correct behavior. Notice that the word occurs here as a perfect passive indicative, highlighting that the cause of the turning has not been emphasized by the verb. Instead, the state of perversion characterizes this person.
5. The Greek term for “sinning” (“ἁμαρτάνει“) means to miss the mark, to transgress. Compare Paul’s use of the term in 1 Corinthians 6:18, page 1788, where he explained that the immoral man sins against his own body. In contrast to the perversion, the active voice of “sinning” clearly identifies that the factious man sins continuously by promoting his evil factional activities.
6. The Greek term for “self-condemned” (“αὐτοκατάκριτος“) means that his own actions prove his guilt. Furthermore, the Greek term “is” (“ὢν“) emphasizes the continuous, persistent nature of his self-condemnation. His own actions convict him of factious behavior.
7. The Greek term for “reject” (“παραιτοῦ”) means to shun, or refuse to associate with that person. Compare other uses of the same term: 1 Timothy 4:7, page 1857, “have nothing to do with worldly fables;” 1 Timothy 5:11, page 1858, “But refuse to put younger widows on the list . . . ;” 2 Timothy 2:23, page 1863, “But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations . . . .” We may glean from these passages that people promoting factions must be rejected and removed from the fellowship until they repent and are restored. When you remove the factious man, then the factions tend to disappear from one assembly. The factious man, however, may well find a new home in the group which does not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and help them turn away from the truth, embracing myths instead (2 Timothy 4:3-4, page 1864).
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