I recall hearing an account of the death of several head of cattle in a small town several years ago, apparently those cows had starved to death. Now of course, this is not a new occurrence, wickedness is everywhere, but as it turns out there was several months’ worth of food just on the other side of the fence from where they died, but the cows could not reach it. The authorities were called after the cows died, and when they concluded their investigation in the town of approximately three hundred people, they gave their verdict.
The elderly man who owned the cattle had been in the hospital for the last three months, his only son was mentally retarded and unaware of what to do unless he was with his father, and the mother had long since died. What struck me the most about this account was not that no charges were filed, but who the investigating authorities blamed, and how they made their investigation known, in as many newspapers and television outlets that would announce it. The blame was laid squarely at the feet of every single person in that small town that knew what was occurring. Of course, no charges could be filed against them, but they made sure that the town and everyone involved were shamed. For they knew to do good, and did it not. (James 4:17)
The sin of Achan is recorded for us in Joshua chapter seven, he succumbed to the temptation of some of the items in Jericho after its fall, and for this he, his sons and daughters and all that he had, were destroyed. They stoned them to death and then burned them with all of their belongings. For those of you who thought that the shame brought upon the residents of that small town was inappropriate, what think you now? Recall the events that led up to the death of Achan and his family, the battle of Ai, thirty-six men died in that small skirmish, Israel fled before their enemy, the first true enemy that they had ever faced, for the walls of Jericho fell by the might of the Lord, thirty-six souls for the sake of some silver, gold and some clothes. God would not bless the children of Israel until that sin was removed from their presence.
The Lord in certain of these letters to you has me teaching in the form of life application, and so if you are discerning the Word of God, you will quite easily see where this is heading, straight into your church thru the front doors. In the Book of Matthew, (ch.18) we are given the commandment of the order of events when it is found that an individual within the congregation is continuing in a lifestyle of sin. One individual is to approach him in love, then two, and continuing on until it is brought before the entire fellowship, if he or she will not repent, they are to be cast out from the body of believers and treated as a gentile.
You understand what this means don’t you, they are no longer to be spoken to as a brother or sister in Christ, they have been rejected from the fellowship of believers, and are to be treated as such when they are met. In love always, but only with the love that we give to the lost, the love of hope and eternal salvation, but there is no longer to be a continuing, unbroken friendship with them, they are not of the body, and those who are not of the body of Christ pose the possibility of an unwanted cancer, if you will, entering the believer. Our fellowship is to be completely severed with this individual until he repents and turns from the life against Christ that they are living.
Now is the time that you get to look around you at your church, who among those there is this individual, and why are they still there, life application my friends, always make the Word of God personal to all you meet, do not do “them and they,” think “me and us.” It is an easy out that far too many Christians take today, “They were doing that,” instead of “What am I doing?” If you know that individual sitting right over there, two pews up and eight seats over from you is in an adulterous affair, what are you going to do about it, wait for “them” to approach him, if you know the woman right behind you is stealing from the company she is employed by, what are you going to do, turn around and say, ”Good morning” like everything is fine and dandy?
Let me guess, you think it’s the pastors responsibility, alright, let’s start with that assumption, let’s say you go and speak to someone who is in a position of authority in the church, and not with hearsay, but with proven facts, you don’t want to do your job, so shuffle if off on someone else, fair enough, you’re scared, I understand. But now what are you going to do if that individual is still sitting there next week, the week after that, a month from now, now what are you going to do if you know that the offence is still continuing and no one, including you, is doing anything about it. I can hear some of you saying right now, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone.” (John 8:7) Cheap excuse and you know it, the commandment has been given, the individual is to be cast out from the congregation until he repents. They will become spots and blemishes, (2 Peter 2:13) and the Lord will no longer bless your gatherings until the offender repents or is thrust out. I don’t know of anywhere in the Scriptures where our Holy Almighty God said, “Oh, that’s alright, that one was more of a suggestion, not a real commandment, don’t worry about it.”
You have only two choices when the truth is known, sit back and act like you don’t know anything and just hope it goes away, or obey, the choice is yours, but these are the only two choices you have. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but I doubt very much that you have ever seen this commandment ever adhered to in your church, wouldn’t want to offend, would we? Here is another choice you have, if you obey and the incident is simply glossed over, if you are told in a sense to mind your own business, then you can either stay and hope the church changes, or you can leave, again, your choice, but do not seek for the blessings of the Lord on the congregation as long as these that are living in continual sin remain present, it won’t happen. Sometimes we have to follow Christ where we really don’t want to go, but that really doesn’t matter does it, we said we would follow, so follow.