In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul writes:
“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 ye received of us.”
Paul is reminding the brethren of the church in Thessalonica that they are not to fellowship with disobedient children of God. As a church body and as individuals, Paul is imploring the members of this church to withdraw from such members.
The New Testament tells us of only four kinds of people in the world. They are unbelievers, believers (Children of God / Christians), false teachers, and disobedient children of God (Christians who have forsaken their salvation). If one were to survey the epistles of Paul, it would be found that much of what he wrote deals with how Christians are to interact, understand, and teach these heavenly classifications. For all this writing, the dealing with disobedient children of God seems to be the most difficult to follow through with.
As we read above, Paul explains that the children of God are not to fellowship with the disobedient children of God. Like it or not, this is a command, inspired by the Holy Spirit to be penned, signed, sealed, and delivered to a Christian church. In scripture though, Paul has also told the Christian when to remove this fellowship. Read Titus 3:10:
“A factious man after a first and second admonition, refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted, and sinneth.”
Furthermore, Paul also tells the church and Christians how to go about this removal of fellowship from disobedient children of God. 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5 tells the believer:
“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.”
As Christians we have been given the how and when to follow this New Testament command to insure our happiness and ability to fully edify one another. Yet still, Paul tells later in 1 Corinthians 5 how our fellowship should evolve once fellowship is withdrawn. Verse 11 reads:
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother 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.”
We are told not to even keep company. This is difficult when your family and friends are made up of disobedient children of God. The list is specific of who this is. Fornicators, those who covet, those who worship idols, those who blaspheme the Lord, drunks, and those who extort money from other and the church are not to be considered brothers in Christ and our fellowship, both personal and congregational, is to be withdrawn.
Why though? Why would such a difficult idea be placed upon the heart of Christians? The answer is shocking to post-modern sensibilities. Fellowship is withdrawn so that the person will be ashamed (2 Thess. 3:14).
Was Paul right? Is it a sin to not follow Paul’s instruction? Would you be more likely to follow Paul’s instruction if it was a commandment from God and not delivered through Paul in bits and pieces?
This is why the symmetry of the Bible is so amazing. It turns out that although Paul’s instruction is divided into several different letters, on the whole they are simply of restatement of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s earlier instruction. Christ states in Matthew 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 shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.”
Many of us have seen the damage in churches that failure to follow these commands have done. Some of us as well could have benefited from churches following through with these commands during our times of wayfaring. The Bible is clear on why this is important. Why is it not important to you today?