A Short note to my brother or sister in Christ who is in sin and in danger of being withdrawn from….
To my brother or sister in Christ who is in danger of being withdrawn from:
One can only imagine how it must feel to be withdrawn from. I hope and pray that you will open your heart and listen to the words of this note to you. Why? Because I care about you; and your other brothers and sisters in Christ care about you.
But, let's be honest with each other. By this time you must realize that your relationship with God and His church has reached a critical point. Despite repeated efforts to do everything possible to help you, somehow it is just not working. The problem of sin looms larger than ever in your life. What can God's people do to help you to understand the seriousness of this problem?
The Bible gives the faithful church only one course of action. 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Thessalonians 3 discuss in careful detail what God wants the church to do with those who refuse to correct sin in their life. If all admonitions fail (see Matthew 18 below), then the church must withdraw its fellowship from the brother or sister in error.
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).
"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 Thessalonians 3:6).
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" (Matthew -17).
God designed this dramatic action to shock or snap one to attention, hopefully causing a person to evaluate his life like never before. You can be assured that this church does not take discipline matters lightly. We realize this is a last attempt to try to help you. In effect, it is our "last card." We hate (yes, hate) having to discipline a member of our spiritual family. It grieves us deeply, but we believe that our commitment to following the scriptures makes it necessary. Remember, it would be much easier to simply allow you to go on in sin. Such would not require any effort on our part and would avoid difficult confrontations. However, this would not show you the depth of love we have for you (see 1 Peter ). Our love for you, your soul, the church's purity, the word of the Lord, and God Himself causes us to take this difficult action.
What does "being withdrawn from" mean for you?
First, it means that you have broken fellowship with God. You are no longer in a covenant relationship with Him. Therefore, you cannot expect His blessings to be upon your life, nor can you expect to receive the eternal reward of heaven. The church, by withdrawing fellowship, only recognizes what has already taken place in God's throne room. To be blunt about it, being withdrawn from should signal to you that your soul is in immediate peril. If you should meet God now, either by dying or if Jesus comes again, you would be eternally lost. Let us repeat: you are in a lost condition! The Bible teaches that your present condition is actually worse than if you had never obeyed the Gospel: "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entan-gled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy com-mandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit,' and, 'a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter -22).
Think carefully: what could be worse than being eternally lost? By withdrawing fellowship we are trying to say to you in the most poignant and obvious way possible: REPENT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! This is the main objective of this action: WE IMPLORE YOU TO REPENT BEFORE IT IS EVERLASTINGLY TOO LATE!
Secondly, "withdrawing fellowship" means that your brothers and sisters in Christ cannot have social interactions with you, or in any way treat you as if everything was all right. This does not mean that we will be ugly to you or not speak to you. We love you and care about you, and so we’ll continue to contact you and urge you to repent. God's people simply refuse to ever give up on one of our family members. However, we would not want to do anything that caused you to think that we were sanctioning your life, or that we believed you to be in covenant relationship with the Lord. We do not want you to have one shred of an excuse, or to even start to think, "Well, they act like I'm okay." "But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person" (1 Corinthians 5:11). You may expect us to abide by the scriptures though it pains us to do so.
The message of this tract has been quite negative and gloomy. Let us end on a positive note: this does not have to happen! There is not one reason in this world why this action has to be taken. All you have to do is decide to live right and to correct the sin(s) in your life. A simple decision to commit to Jesus completely and wholly, to really live for Him and abide by His word — that is all it takes. You do not have to be withdrawn from, but only you can stop it.
Please do not think you are too sinful, or have committed too many wrongs to return to God. Read Luke 15. All three of Jesus' parables illustrate how happy the Lord is for a sinner to return, and how He is longing for you to come home. He will accept you, if you will return to Him. "If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). By staying in sin you have everything to lose and nothing to gain! God is waiting for you — won't you come back to Him?
Finally, please do not think that the church would look down upon you, or expect you to live perfectly. We understand the long road back to spiritual strength, and that many battles with temptation must be fought and won. Can you not see how much we want to help you? We will rally around you and do everything possible to see to it you are in fellowship with the Lord. You cannot imagine the outpouring of love and support you will receive. We are waiting for you to return home — won't you please come?
Really, this matter is out of our hands. You are the one who decides if you will be withdrawn from or if you will turn to righteousness. You must understand that if you continue to live an unrepentant life you will force us to obey God's darkest commands. The choice is yours: repent and enjoy the fellowship of God and His people, or remain in your present condition and regret it for all eternity. Think soberly and return to God and His people!