2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 ESV
“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
“It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
The church, as the body of Christ, is not supposed to placate willful and deliberate and habitual sin among its members. The church, as the body of Christ (not as institutions of men), is to grieve over its members if they fall back into sin. And the church leaders are to exercise biblical church discipline in removing from our gatherings those who are not willing to repent (to forsake their sins to follow Jesus in obedience). For the church is to judge those inside the church who are living in deliberate sin against God.
But church discipline should be as a last resort if all other means of correction and exhortation have failed to produce repentance and obedience to the Lord and to his commands. And the purpose of the church discipline is not to be mean and hateful, but it should be out of a heart of love and concern for those who are professing faith in Jesus Christ but who are still walking in sin, and also for all those within the body of Christ who they might influence toward returning to living in sin and to not obeying the Lord.
The purpose of the discipline should not be to just write off the offenders and hope to never see them or hear from them again. The purpose is that the ones sinning deliberately and habitually would then consider the errors of their ways and that they would repent of their sins, and that they would return to walking in faithful obedience to the Lord and so they could be restored to the fellowship of the body of Christ. So just like God disciplines us for our good this should be for their ultimate good, not to harm them.
Now, if the person under church discipline then truly repents, in actions and in truth, and not in words only, then the church is instructed to restore that person back into the fellowship of the body of believers in Jesus Christ. But he would need to show true repentance by his deeds. For many people will say they are sorry that they sinned and then will go right back to committing the same deliberate and habitual sins. It is not enough to just feel sorry you sinned but you need to turn from that sin and follow Jesus in obedience.
[Matt 18:15-20; 1 Co 5:1-13; 2 Co 2:5-8; Ac 26:20; 2 Co 7:10; Matt 3:8]
Now, I know that this passage of Scripture does not teach formal church discipline exactly, and it does not say to remove the offending person from among them, but that doesn’t mean that is not meant by this. For if you are commanded to keep away from another who professes faith in Jesus Christ who is in your church fellowship who is walking in idleness (laziness) and not in the ways of holiness and righteousness, and who is a moocher, it would be kind of hard to avoid that person in the gatherings of the church.
But the point here is that the church is the body of Christ, and as Christ’s body we are to uphold his moral standards and his commands for the good of those of us who are part of that body so that we are not led astray by sin’s deceitfulness. We need those checks and balances. We need accountability from the body of Christ. We need to be exhorting one another so that none of us ends up falling back into sin. We need to be those who are speaking the truth in love to one another so we all grow to maturity in Christ and so we are not led astray by clever enchanters telling us lies.
2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 ESV
“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.”
What We are Up Against
Now I am fully aware that not many congregations of the saints today are literally congregations of the saints but they are a mixture of the world and the worldly who profess faith in Jesus and those who truly are following Christ with their lives. And I am well aware that the majority of these gatherings are being run more like businesses and so they are marketing the church to the world and so they are not following the biblical model for church discipline because they don’t want to offend anyone.
So, it is unlikely that very many church congregations in America today are actually following the biblical model for church discipline. Some of them are exercising church discipline, though, but not biblically, but in order to get rid of people they don’t want in their “churches.” God has no part in those actions at all. For those are usually done in spite or in trying to exercise control over certain individuals who are not in line with the business role model for how to do church. They will usually just invite them to leave.
And I am also well aware of how “church” is being done today and that if you follow the model for how to do church discipline that you are unlikely to have the support of the church leadership and you will usually be the one called out as the “bad guy.” And if true church discipline is exercised, people will just go to another “church” where they will be accepted and included regardless of what kind of lives they are living. But at least you would have removed from your midst the potential for the sin to spread.
Anyway, we need to be those who are taking sin seriously and who are addressing sin issues within the church. We need to be calling sin what it is, and we need to be calling people to repentance and to obedience to Christ. We also need to be exposing false teachings which are permitting “believers” in Jesus to continue in deliberate and habitual sin while promising them that all their sins are forgiven and that heaven is guaranteed them when they die. But first of all we need to be living holy and godly lives.
He Lifted Our Burdens
An Original Work / February 15, 2014
Based off Isaiah 9:2-7
People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.
Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.
Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.
We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.
Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.
He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.