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Separation from Disobedient Brethren

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  • Separation from Disobedient Brethren

    This is my final section of my separation article. However I am still in the editing process and plan to publish it to the web once finally completed. Enjoy!
    Separation from Disobedient Brethren


    Disobedient brother: Is a professing Christian who deliberately refuses to modify some aspect of his conduct or behavior and to conform to the teachings of Scripture.

    Discipline in the church: This is a action taken by a body of believers (or church) to correct the disobedience of one of its members. Those that love the brethren desire to see this person do right and go the right way (I Corinthians 13:6). Proper church discipline results in the building up of the church, not in its destruction (II Corinthians 13:10).

    Key Verses

    Matt 18:15-17
    Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

    This is the most famous of passages on church discipline and separation from the disobedient. But tragically church discipline is heavily neglected in the contemporary church. Church Discipline is effective when practiced from a Biblical worldview and according to the passage there are 4 steps to Church Discipline. The first step is to go and tell the brother his fault. (v.15) (that is if he is unable to practice self-discipline) The second step is the group appeal if he refuses to listen to you directly. The third step is to tell it to the church (v.17) and at this stage will the brother be under Church Discipline. And finally the last step is to separate from him (treat him as a heathen and tax collector). Church discipline has many purposes and some of these are as follows (
    (1) To bring glory to God and enhance the testimony of the flock.
    (2) To restore, heal, and build up sinning believers (Matt. 18:15; 2 Thes. 3:14-15; Heb. 12:10-13; Gal. 6:1-2; Jam. 5:20).
    (3) To produce a healthy faith, one sound in doctrine (Tit. 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:19-20).
    (4) To win a soul to Christ, if the sinning person is only a professing Christian (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
    (5) To silence false teachers and their influence in the church (Tit. 1:10-11).
    (6) To set an example for the rest of the body and promote godly fear (1 Tim. 5:20).
    (7) To protect the church against the destructive consequences that occur when churches fail to carry out church discipline. A church that fails to exercise discipline experiences losses.

    Restoration/reconciliation is the primary purpose to church discipline which is an effort to get the disobedient to repent. Church discipline must be done Biblically and in love. In today's day and age it's very wise to keep legal documents, have witnesses in discipline meetings and the like for fear of lawsuits. The text gives the importance to church discipline and separation from the disobedient, but the tragic reality is that many do not practice church discipline these days.

    2 Thes 3:6, 14-15

    Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

    And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

    Paul in these passages is warning believers to withdrawal themselves from anyone that behaves disorderly and does not follow after the apostolic traditions. Paul does not leave the reader to wonder what the traditions are as he clearly declares the traditions to be his own teaching whether by word or by epistle (II Thessalonians 2:15). He states that if any brother's practice or teaching does not agree with the teaching of Scripture, then are believers to withdraw from him. But if any believer were to fail to realize the importance of this discipline, the apostle repeats the command in the same chapter in verse 14 “note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” If Paul were to allow him to continue in his error without trying to get him to repent would be wrong and unkind. Other Christian brethren are not to treat him as an enemy but to admonish him as a brother v.15. The problem with following these teachings these days is that many churches do not practice church discipline. Discipline is essential and necessary. The Lord himself disciplines his children (Heb 12:6) and so has commanded the church to do the same (Matt 18:15-17). If any man does not respond to church discipline then it is necessary to separate from him. However I do not believe that the exhortation extents beyond the local church over trivial matters. Fundamentalists very much practice and endorse 2nd and 3rd degree separation as they believe in distancing themselves from all Evangelicals and Charismatics because they are disobedient. I personally do not believe in separating from all disobedient Evangelicals and Charismatics on secondary issues, because who is to say that Fundamentalists are not disobedient, or that Fundamentalists have it all together and are more righteous than everyone. I know of Fundamentalists who in a heartbeat will separate from a church because their music is “contemporary”, yet do these Fundamentalists fail to see the racism, sexism, and other sinful attitudes in their churches. It seems like to these Fundamentalists it's a super sin to worship God in a non traditional fashion, yet its okay to be hateful, racist, sexist, and the like. This is called pure hypocrisy! Jesus was not a traditionalist or a legalist as He did the following according to the article Jesus & Christian Fundamentalism.

    1. He associated with tax collectors and sinners-Mt 9:10-12
    2. He was relevant with the culture (various)
    3. He broke unbiblical Sabbath traditions of his day -Mt 12:9-13, Mt 12:1-2
    4. He associated with Samaritans (Woman at the well)-John 4
    5. He allowed his disciples to eat with unwashed hands-Mk 7:5
    6. He nor his disciples practiced fasting-Mt 9:14
    7. He declared all foods clean-Mk 7:14-19
    8. He liberated Women-Lk 8:1-3
    9. He advocated freedom from powerless religion-Mk 1:22
    10. He gave others Grace-Jn 8:3-11

    Purposes in separating from disobedient brethren

    1. To preserve the testimony of God's holy people in the eyes of the world (I Peter 2:12).
    2. To prevent a disobedient brother or sister from influencing others to sin or to do wrong (I Corinthians 5:6-7; Galatians 5:9).
    3. To set an example which (hopefully) will encourage others to be obedient (I Timothy 5:20).
    4. To bring about repentance in the one who has been disobedient (II Timothy 2:25; Hebrews 10:24; Revelation 3:19).

    Christians are to be the redemptive force in the culture and are to live in the world just not of it (John 17:15-19). Separating from the disobedient is Biblical, but it must not be hypocritical, and separating from entire denominations over trivial matters is not Biblical.

    Since the writing of this article I have dialogued with a number of evangelicals on a Internet discussion board whom have given me a number of different interpretations on the doctrine of separation. Some of these views have been Biblical and some have not. I enjoyed what one individual said about Jesus and the example he set. He did not separate himself from those that held a different worldview, nor does he isolate himself from disobedient believers and the ungodly (Rev 3:20). On that token I simply cannot endorse 2nd and 3rd degree separation as what is practiced in Fundamentalism. I believe that the Bible is quite clear on separating from the world, and false teachers. But separating from entire denominations over trivial matters like convictions on dress, movies, bible translations and the like is not right. There are many evangelical and charismatics that I separate from because of their false teaching, but simply separating from an entire denomination (Southern Baptists) is not be what the Bible teaches. Do not misunderstand me as I am not arguing against separating from liberal denominations that are not sound such as the American Baptists and the Assemblies of God, which I believe are in direct disobedience to the scriptures, not only for their liberal theology, but for their disobedience on the doctrine of separation. Rolland McCune in his book Promise Unfulfilled ads;

    A wide spectrum of new evangelical thought exists concerning the various facets of apostasy, cooperation, and separation. Taken together, the salient features of this spectrum form a rationale for the anti-separation stance that characterized the new evangelical movement from the beginning (McCune, 129).

    While I do believe that some evangelicals are disobedient in this area, I do not believe that the Fundamentalists are perfect neither. Fundamentalists that are hyper judgmental and condescending are like the Pharisee mentioned in Lk 18. He had no humility and praised God that he was not like others, for he saw himself as righteous. There are many Fundamentalists that are self-righteous and look at others and base their righteousness by comparison to others. I believe that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are right and wrong in different areas and we all will be perfected when Christ comes (1 Cor 15:51-52). At that time will we no longer argue over trivial matters, for we will be one accord. So many do not separate from the world, for they love the world more so than Christ. I realize that the process of sanctification is a lifetime process (Eph 4:22-24), but it should be a process that all Christians should be engaged in, for those that are not engaged in it shall not see the Lord (Heb 12:14). In the meantime practice separation, but do not practice 2nd and 3rd degree separation from sound brethren over trivial matters such as dress, music, Bible translations, etc. Separating from an entire denomination of believers over trivial matters is not Christ honoring. But separating from an entire denomination because of their liberalism, contradiction on the fundamentals of the Christian faith is wise and Christ honoring. So therefore go out and follow the Biblical mandates as outlined in this article on separation.

    Sources Used

    IVP NT Commentary Series
    Bible Knowledge Commentary
    Life Application Bible Notes
    Life Application NT Commentary
    Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
    Complete Word Study Dictionary on NT Words
    Bob Jones University. 1980. Biblical Separation. Greenville: BJU Seminary.
    McCune, Rolland. 2004. Promise Unfulfilled. Greenville: Ambassador Publications.; accessed Jan 1, 2009

  • #2
    Good article. Ever thought about looking at the people who separated themselves from Jesus? Weren't they the fundamentalist of His day?


    • #3
      Originally posted by mikebr View Post
      Good article. Ever thought about looking at the people who separated themselves from Jesus? Weren't they the fundamentalist of His day?
      Most Christians these days are full of apathy and dont care about separation.