Jerry C. Brewer
There is no middle ground. Christians can never fellowship sin and follow Jesus at the same time: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad (Matt. 12:30). When the devil gets into a family, members of it may depart from the faith, necessitating a choice on the part of the faithful in that family—a choice that either commends or condemns them.
One who departs from the faith cannot be fellowshipped by other Christians—even his family. There are always objections to that statement. Some family members will say, “We need to continue as a family,” (despite what Jesus said about loving Him more than family) or, “We can’t teach him if we disfellowship him.” But Paul said withdrawal of fellowship is a form of teaching with a view to saving a soul. To the church at Corinth, he wrote,
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Cor 5:1-6).
Then, there is the objection that, “We can’t disfellowship every family member who is not a Christian.” Paul addressed that in the same context by inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother (Emp. JB) be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Cor. 5:9-13).
The Lord’s command through Paul was directed at a brother in Christ who sinned, not those in the world, and he made that clear: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. …what have I to do to judge them also that are without.” He continued, “…do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth.” Christians are in the world, but not of the world. We have no obligation to withdraw from those still in the world, and cannot do so without going out of the world. But we are commanded to withdraw from unrepentant brethren who sin.
Paul’s statement that, “ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you” applies to our family and to every family of Christians when one of them departs from the faith and the family remains silent. A cavalier attitude in the face of sin is a deadly leaven that will not only destroy the soul of the one who sins, but is also sin in those who say nothing. The “leaven” of which Paul writes, is the influence of the member who is unrepentant and continues to be fellowshipped by the others. Their toleration of his sin violates Scripture (2 John 9-11) and creates the impression that they approve of what he has done. That is wrong, and no amount of rationalization by family members can change an iota of God’s Word.