Not Withdrawing From Fallen Christians Because They Don’t Attend Anymore Ignores The First Reason For Withdrawal

Every faithful Christian knows there are at least two major reasons Christians are told to withdraw from other Christians who become unfaithful and refuse to repent.

First and foremost, the action is taken that the sinner “may be ashamed” (II Thess 3:14), to “gain thy brother” (Matt 18:15), “for the destruction of the flesh” (his sin) (I Cor 5:5) – in short, to get the erring brother to repent so his soul will be saved from spiritual death (James 5:20).

A second important reason the action of discipline is taken is to protect the church, so that other members of the congregation will “fear” (Acts 5:11) to do the same thing. We say “a rotten apple spoils the whole bunch”; I Cor 5:6 says the same thing this way – “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

When someone says I don’t have to withdraw from a fallen away Christian because they have already left the congregation, or they don’t belong to the same congregation I worship with, that only takes into account the second reason (as listed above) for withdrawal. That excuse completely ignores the first and primary reason for withdrawal – to try to save the erring Christian. Even if we reason that the second purpose is out of play because the one in sin is not part of the congregation anymore, since we still want that person to repent and return to the Lord (Eph 4:15a), we still must practice God’s instructions in this regard.

Do we love the Lord enough to obey His instructions even when it is hard (John 14:15)?

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