Vol.XV No.VI Pg.5
August 1978

Its Effect Upon Fellowship Of Saints

Robert F. Turner

(Continued from previous page)

"That he may be ashamed" shows the effectiveness of their action would be contingent upon an earlier fellowship. If he "didn't give a hoot" this withdrawal of approval and company would not benefit him. "Count him not as an enemy" shows no hostile feeling was to accompany the correction, and "admonish as a brother" describes the attitude to be maintained. Expositors' comment: "Disapproval, as a means of moral discipline, loses all its effect if the offender does not realize its object and reason, or if it is tainted with personal hostility." If a church can not demonstrate this attitude it is incapable of exercising scriptural discipline.

It is to our shame and discredit that our next example more nearly describes current situations in churches of our day. In 1 Cor. 5: Paul uses one verse to define a sinner in Corinth; and devotes the remainder of the chapter to upbraiding those innocent of the first sin, because they had made no effort to correct it. "Ye are puffed up" (we are too holy to discuss such things), "and have not mourned" (business as usual — funeral spirit kills our enthusiasm), "that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you" (Oh, that would be interfering with his personal life). Haven't you heard it??

Paul says, "when ye are gathered together..." This thing has, through neglect, passed the earlier stages. All members are involved — not just the elders, though they should lead. 2 Cor. 2:6 states the punishment was "inflicted by the many." In Matt. 18: it was "tell it to the church." In 2 Thes. 3: Paul commanded "brethren." The "spiritual" among the Galatian brethren had obligations (6:1-f). NO PASSAGE puts these matters into the hands of some episcopacy which represents "the church." We can not escape responsibility by saying "Our elders won't do anything about it." Elders have leadership responsibilities, but their judgment is not divine mandate.

"Deliver unto Satan" means publicly recognize and declare the sinner for what he is. The declaration does not make him a child of the devil; his actions have done that (Jn. 8:44). Paul "delivered unto Satan" Hymeneus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20), and had no hesitancy in saying so. Even in such radical treatment the purpose is "that they may learn not to blaspheme" or, "for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved..." In coming to Christ the "old man" of the flesh should have been put to death — but such flagrant proof that old ways yet live can not be tolerated. If the "gospel call" discipline did not "put to death" such conduct, corrective discipline must be exercised. If the offender has a "spark" of concern for fellowship with God, the withdrawal of fellowship by those who are trying to "walk with God" may cause him to see his lost and undone condition.

And finally — if it doesn't, such evil leaven must be removed from the church. This is not the first consideration, but it is certainly not an element of discipline to be ignored. THE SPIRITUAL NATURE AND GOAL OF EACH LOCAL CHURCH, ITS SPIRITUAL CHARACTER, IS HIGHLY DEPENDENT UPON THE EXERCISE OF DIVINELY ORDAINED DISCIPLINE.