In our world, it is often tempting to skip past certain Scriptures. Especially this one I wrote about a few years ago.
Many churches refuse to do it.
For those of you watching the news, this passage is at the heart of the controversy with Joe Biden, the Pope and some Catholics who say he should be not be given communion therefore indicating he is not in good standing with the church. (I’m not Catholic, just giving some context to this news story).
This passage, in Thessalonians, certainly isn’t popular, or politically correct, in our world today. In fact, most ignore it.
But Paul, emphatically commanded Christians to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly (2 Thess 3:6)
That’s kind of a big subject that he places at the end of Thessalonians.
Honestly, I was tempted to skip past it too.
Because, you know, it’s easier to talk about love,…but here’s the truth, what Paul is telling us to do is exactly that…LOVE.
And if we intend to truly follow God, we are to take the WHOLE counsel of His Word and not just pick and choose the easy parts.
Paul said, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (2 Thess 3:6)
First, Paul says this is a “command”. This isn’t just a side note or suggestion. Paul’s words are Holy Spirit-inspired to be put in action.
Next, note that he says “a brother”. This is someone who claims to be a fellow believer, not a lost person.
Paul is not telling us to withdraw from the lost world in holy huddles or communes. This is different.
What Paul is commanding us to do is meant to impact a fellow believer so they will forsake the sin and return to right fellowship with God and others.
Also, notice the word “walks”. The person, to whom we are to withdraw, is someone who is caught up in sin and “walks” in it as a practice or lifestyle rather than occasionally “stepping” in sin. In other words, the person has given themselves over to the sin. (In Biden’s case the controversy surrounds his emphatic support of abortion through policy and funding).
Paul’s command is to withdraw in order to help restore this person to right fellowship with the Lord and others, (the loving thing to do is to withdraw from this person if they refuse to walk away from the sin.)
The hope is that they will so miss the sweet fellowship with other believers that they will leave the sin that is hurting them and others.
And here’s the extra hard thing to consider— I see no exception for this command if the person caught up in the sin is a family member (or church, one of your hardest workers, or biggest tithe-givers.)
I know. I know. This is truly hard stuff.
This is where you have to really ask yourself if you trust God more than you trust yourself or your own emotions.
If you do, you will do what God says and trust Him to use it to help the person caught up in harmful sin.
Or, you can decide you know better than God, do what feels right to you, and you’ll likely help the other person feel comfortable and further drown in their misery making sin.
We can ignore parts of Scripture like this, and when we do, instead of loving the person, and hating the sin that is hurting them, we end up ignoring the sin and helping them feel comfortable in what is actually hurting them.
Oh, this is hard stuff. But we can trust God more than we trust ourselves.
For more on this, see Matt 18:15-17 and 1 Cor 5:4-5, 9-12
I’ll be back in Philippians next week. Join us.