Vol.IX No.II Pg.7
April 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear Bro. Turner:

What should be the extent of association between a Christian and another Christian who has "left the church," never assembles with the saints and lives in worldly manner?


The Christian will be "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves -- ,". (2TI.2:24-26) A "meek" spirit (GAL.6:1) is humbled self-control (see Vine); ever seeking, reaching out for, yet cautiously avoiding contamination by or condoning of the evil. (JUDE:22-23) Within the grounds of such seeking there will be "association" or contact, of necessity.

There is a marked discrepancy in the non-carnal warfare with sin which Paul teaches (2CO.10:-S) and the punishment-by-boycott which some seem to see in 1CO.5:11 and 2TH.14, in "have no company with". How can the snobbish cold-shoulder, "cross the-street-to-avoid", attitude accord with MAT.5:47? ("If ye salute your brethren only... do not even the publicans so?") If we are not careful we will turn the disciplinary (teaching) "rebuke" of disfellowship, into self-pleasing, vindictive vengeance-taking -- and lose our own souls in the process. Read carefully, ROM.12:13-21. Following the "have no company with him" of 2TH.3:14, is "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother".

The "association which Pau1 condemned (1CO.5:etc.) is one which condones, sanctions, encourages, and hence "fellowships" sin. We can never strengthen our thinking on disfellowship until we are content with the NT use of "fellowship". The "eating with", "receiving into your house", and we11-wishing (2JO.10,11) are interpreted by their context as jointly sharing" in the evil. Under certain circumstances one may eat with the unbeliever -- but not to the point of "fellowship" with his sin (1CO.10:27,28). We are to give our enemy food and drink (ROM.12:20), but not under circumstances that sanction his evil. (cf.,MAR.9:41) JESUS ate with sinners among His Jewish brethren (LUK.15:2) but it was for the purpose of and in the process of reaching for their souls. (LUK.5:30-f)

"Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican, (MAT.18:17) means to consider as "canceled" those ties that had, formerly, characterized your association with him in Christ. This does not sever all relationships (such as mother-to-son) but it calls upon us to give Christ and His cause priority over all else. (LUK. 14:26-f)

One thing more -- disfellowship can never accomplish more in the correction of the unfaithful, than "fellowship" meant to that one when he was "faithful". It may be necessary for the protection of the faithful (1CO.5:6) but its corrective effect upon the sinner depends upon the sense of loss and "shame" he feels -- "that he may be ashamed". (2TH.3:14) Vine says this means to "turn one upon himself". (cf., TIT.2:8)

May God help us to correct the ugly, pride-satisfying smugness that has so often accompanied discipline.