On Shunning

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” –Jesus (Matthew 18:12)

The IFB churches, in which I grew up and then left, commonly teach that believers should shun another person who calls himself/herself a believer, but who has been involved in sin and is not repentant. The operative and key words should be “not repentant.” If someone has expressed sorrow and change of mind/heart about the sin, taking steps to be rid of it… [not man-made prescriptions] then they are to be received! (2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 8:7-16). And they are to be received as God sees them, fully righteous, fully restored, walking in their new creature identity (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).

For sure, “church discipline” is taught in the Bible, but shunning is not.

IFBers often quote the following:

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” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

And,

I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:13).

Again, it is clear that church discipline is taught by the Apostle Paul; and Jesus Himself gave prescriptions on how to deal with offenses within the body (Matthew 18). But, in their zealousness to rid the body of “leaven,” they miss Jesus’ statement to “treat them as a pagan and a tax collector,” and IFBers appear never to consider how Jesus Himself treated pagans and tax collectors. They also either skip over or ignore 2 Thessalonians 3:15, which commands believers should NOT treat a disobedient brother as an enemy! James 5:20 further states we should invest enough love and time and wisdom into a brother’s / sister’s life, so as to be able to turn him or persuade him back to Jesus, and so, “cover a multitude of sins.” We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort, BUT “with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). These things can hardly be done in one “church discipline” visit by a pastor and 2 deacons, where fear and intimidation are the motivations. Jude (v. 22) commands we should differentiate the hardened from the doubting by showing them mercy & compassion; but even the hardened should have mercy mixed with fear (vv. 22-24).

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

What is more, IFB’ers insist on man-made restrictions to “make sure the offender has really repented ‘after a godly sorrow.'” These restrictions and life demands are not mankind’s place to determine; and IFB’ers are so behavior focused, they often neglect true restoration… which requires meekly identifying with & bearing the burden of the one who stumbled (Galatians 6).

True restoration is done in order to rebuild the breakdowns of one’s holy identity, faith, hope and love which precipitated the sin; and true restoration realizes a sin problem in a believer is always directly proportionate to their godly identity having been attacked, their godly trusts having been broken, their godly hopes having been dashed or their godly love having been betrayed. It requires sympathetically looking at the trials and hardships that led to said breakdown. Instead, IFB’ers tend to kick those who are down, or treat them shamefully, as if they carry something rabid and catchy. This shaming and shunning can never restore, and it reveals restoration is really not the aim of IFB’ers.

They gain this misdirection & misunderstanding about shunning from misinterpreting passages (out of context and meaning). Here are some Bible studies, which show the biblically accurate alternative to unbiblical shunning. Not associating with an unrepentant person means not to worship with them. Not to eat with an unrepentant person means not to take communion with them. One gains this from the context of 1 Corinthians 5, where Paul describes the difference between what goes on within the body vs. what goes on outside it (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). But, not to share an actual family or friendly meal and/or not to socialize with said persons is a gross misinterpretation of the Bible, and it only feeds unbiblical shunning.

_________________

OTHER RESOURCES:

Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality & Mortality

Treat Them as a Pagan and a Tax Collector

The Kingdom of Heaven and it’s Keys

Binding and Loosing 

Abuse & Authority

Forgiveness & Justice

To hope for justice is neither anger, nor bitterness. It is rather the opposite of bitterness, because to hope for justice is to expect a thing only God can hand down… to trust in God to send deliverance. And God always does send a deliverer: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you…” (Acts 7:34)

  • Job expected it. (Job 19:23-24)
  • Hagar cried out for it, and God assured her that he sees her. (Gen. 16:7-16)
  • Abraham sought it. (Gen 18)
  • Joseph dreamt of it. (Gen 37:9)
  • David complained to God for it. (1 Sam 24:15; search Complaint in Psalms)
  • Proverbs 31:8 commands us to ensure it for those being crushed.
  • Esther knew her purpose in it and would not be silent (4:14)
  • Jeremiah wept for it and defended God as the giver of it. (Lamentation 3)
  • Habakkuk questioned God for it and God answered. (Habakkuk 1)
  • Micah preached it. (Entire book)
  • Jesus committed himself to the one who judges righteously, and God raised Him from the dead. (1 Peter 2:23)
  • The Apostles proclaimed it. (Acts 7:34)
  • The Revelation saints petition for it, saying “How long…?” (Revelation 6:10)

Spiritual forgiveness does not mean temporal consequences / lawful sentencing is or should be removed. And no, not “all sins are the same in God’s eyes.” While it is true that even the smallest sin reveals we are corrupt and in need of pardon & spiritual new birth, it is also true that different sins have different consequences (even eternal ones) and various degrees of ramifications toward both the victim and the perpetrator (Romans 2:6; Revelation 20:12-13). Jesus taught this directly, as recorded in Matthew 10:15; 11:24 and 23:23. Again, spiritual / eternal forgiveness does not eliminate natural, temporal or governmental consequences for crimes done. It also does not immediately restore trust or relationship. Those things must be earned over time, and in some cases future contact or relationship should never be expected of the victim.

It is important to note that when we have been wronged or a crime was committed against us, it is healthy and right to acknowledge that ‘I have indeed been wronged’… only then can we become truly ready to forgive by letting the nature of the wrong register in our mind and emotions, instead of just glossing over it and mouthing the words “I forgive.” Then, we can commit the judgment to God because of Jesus, and so, be ready to forgive the spiritual / eternal wrong when the offender repents. 

Confronting someone who has legitimately wronged us is doing the right thing; because sometimes people don’t recognize or realize they have wronged us, which means they do not know a reconciliation must take place. It should be obvious, though, when a crime or clear case of biblical sin has occurred. 

We can be sure we are “ready to forgive” when—because we have committed the wrong to God who judges rightly—we feel trust for His goodness & justice overcome the hurt.

When someone does finally say “I’m sorry, or forgive me,” we can be sure we have forgiven when we desire no ruin / damnation to come to them… and when we remember we made the choice to release them from the spiritual consequences (committing the matter to God’s judgment), because of Jesus’ sacrifice for sins. HOWEVER, this does not eliminate the need for restitution, and a truly repentant person will seek to restore and make restitution however possible. (Ex. Zacchaeus)

Question & Answer: What is the Longest Anyone Could Go without Sin?

Brother Sam, I have an odd question. What do you think the longest is one man could go without any sin?

Well, that is quite a hypothetical. The point is not to be sinless but to sin less, as a way of showing love to God. 

A dear professor once said to me, “Can you go without openly sinning in this moment?”
“Yes,” I replied.

Then, he said, “What about the next moment?”

“Yes”

He finished by saying, “Then by that grace of Jesus, focus continually only on this moment, not the past or future.”

I think you understand his point—we should not focus on being perfect in the future… or how long we can go / have gone without sinning, because (until we see Him) none of us are perfect like Jesus is perfect (1 John 1 – 3).  We need only focus on walking with God each present moment.

And, the Bible says, “IF anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous.” (1 John 2:1-4)

So, God looks at the believer and says, “IF you sin,….” I tell people that sinning is a big IF in the eyes of our Father, when he looks at us. In Jesus, you have everything you need not to sin; but if you do sin, well then, Jesus is there for you to turn to. And, His nail-pierced hands both prove he still wants you, and that, He died for that sin too. 

We shouldn’t let fear of sinning keep us from enjoying our union with God; and we shouldn’t let shame and guilt keep us from Him either. Just focus on loving Him who first loves us!

__________________

If you have a Question for which you would like a Bible answer, submit it to one of the following contact points:

Twitter: @snkean

Facebook: Facebook.com/sam.n.kean

email: skean@horizonmc.org

What Christians Mean by “the World” and “Worldly” [Presentation]

What do Christians mean by “the World,” which the Bible states is in opposition to God’s kingdom? Get a biblical definition of “world” in its spiritual denotation; learn the difference between being fleshly (worldly, carnal) and being “spiritually minded.” Also, discover many practical means for being aware of worldliness in your own heart and in the symbols & societal agendas around you.

defining-the-world [.pptx]

10 Reasons Why God Does Not Heal Everyone and/or Prevent Evil

These are the questions:

“If God exists and is good, then why does God allow evil and suffering?” —Atheist / Agnostic

“If God is all powerful, then why don’t Christians go into hospitals and psych wards to heal everyone?” —Skeptic

“Will God heal the non-believer just the same as a believer?” —Inquiring Christian

“I prayed for a miracle, but God did not do it. Why?” —Disillusioned Christian

These are the biblical answers:

1. Human free will stands, according to God’s original design. By it we fell into sin; with it, each of us may be redeemed by grace through faith. Free will means others may affect my life, and that is just the law of existence, which God set into motion. Their freedom is your freedom; and God will not remove it. He keeps His own laws. Mankind makes evil and hurtful or neglegent choices, because mankind is corrupted in nature, not God.

BUT, God promises He alone can redeem these evils into something eternally good, if He is willfully entrusted with both the wrongs and His prescription on how to cope with them. Finding out & following His ways can treat and / or prevent much evil, inner suffering & even physical ailment.

Sometimes God won’t heal us or heal instantly, because He wants us to use our will to find healing by searching out and living in His freeing Truth & ways. That is, God may delay a healing or spread it out over time in order to build the faith of the recipient. Instantaneous healing does happen, but so does prolonged healing.

If He has assured us of healing based on His Word and the illumination of the Spirit, then we must continually believe with praising, or “pray through.” This builds a strong faith! Again, God is more interested in cultivating our person in trusting Him than in providing quick fixes for our temporal, physical bodies. See Luke 18:1-8

And, yes, emotional and psychological healings come at His hands too… but often take much time and much truth.

2. Some (NOT ALL) torments are the result of sin. Examples include: guilt, not forgiving others, the results of covetously seeking riches and fame or worldly success, bitterness or blaming God for not getting your strong desires met, dabbling in occult ritual or magic, bringing railing accusation against / commanding angels, speaking evil/reviling angelic majesties without knowledge/understanding. These must be confessed and renounced in Jesus’ Name before we can command the tormentors to go. (See Jude; Matthew 18:34; Hebrews 12; 1 Timothy 6:10; James 4-5)

3. Our understanding is limited; God’s is limitless. It may be redemptive suffering or glorification of God in unseen realms… Or seen realms (Ex. Job, John 9:1-12). We are not gods; He is God. It is about His glory, AND He rewards those who suffer but keep faith! [See Befitting Rewards Series and 1 Peter 4 & Luke 22:31]

4. This is a fallen world in an evil age—temporal—not Heaven. Sickness, disaster, disease & death are not only possible but probable; but God wants our trust in Him for the rescue of our eternal soul—even above trust for temporal fixes—as well as the maturing of our (believers’) person into Jesus’ likeness. We did not give God trust in a perfect age (Garden of Eden). This present evil age is about trusting Him while enduring ills. If we do so, He will give us His wisdom & understanding. Therefore, He may or may not heal / deliver based on our need to grow into Christ’s likeness. Jesus suffered and was perfected by it too, but He suffered so that He could rescue us from eternal separation from God in judgement. The rescue and mature development of your eternal soul is more important to God than your temporal / bodily desires. Only by suffering, can we be made better (more empathetic, wise, understanding, compassionate, self-less, content) people.

Speaking of being mortal, getting older and chronically sick is hard. King Solomon puts it best by saying: “Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). God says you were supposed to have spent your youthful years learning the Wisdom of God, SO THAT when you are older and sicker and feeble you would be prepared instead of lost for answers about life in this fallen world. Youth is preparation for getting older, not a thing to be squandered as if to say, “Tonight, we are young. So, let’s set the world on fire.” The best way to age gracefully is to age (gain) in wisdom. Even wine gets better with age, even though it rots.

See Romans 8:29-30; John 16:33; Ecclesiastes 12

5. God is not partial or vengeful. He gives both blessings and trials to the just and the unjust alike. He lets good things and “bad” things happen for a reason, which is: both blessing and suffering are meant to lead us to faith in God, either in response for his goodness OR in seeing the brokenness of the fallen world & desiring to be rescued from this present evil, fallen age. See Matthew 5:45

6. The proud, rich & affluent of this world are often self sufficient (poor in faith). We think we have a remedy or fix or prevention or insurance for everything… somehow invincible. We need to learn our frailty and vulnerability and trust in the presence of God (See above). To become spiritually rich, we must fully realize we are poor in spirit; and a revelation of our spiritual bankruptcy before God does not happen without trials. By the way, if we treat prayer for healing like a “treatment” so that we can go on living in our godless and selfish ways, then God won’t heal us. See James 2:5; 5; Matthew 5:3

7. Someone must ask for healing (spiritual & physical) in Jesus’ Name. If one does not believe in Him as the only true God and Savior, why should He give them a healing / deliverance? In the Bible records, healings are always given so that faith may be established in Him. This is not to say God will not preserve life, even in miraculous ways, until that one has a chance to hear the Good News of Jesus. God has and will heal, or allow a near death experience, or miraculously protect or deliver someone from tragedy, if/when that person needs to hear / accept the Good News of Jesus.

[See Bible passages recording healings and “What About Those Who Have Not Heard?“]

8. Believers do not direct or empower spiritual gifts (healing, etc.) to use at their will, as if the power is theirs. It is God’s power and at His will. (See above & 1 Corinthians 12:11)

9. Prayer is aligning with God’s rule & will over us. Sometimes He says no, even to those who are righteous (repentant attitude). To pray for His “Kingdom to come & His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven” is not a question of His will getting done, as if God can’t do everything He wants in this present, evil age. But rather, to pray this is to practice aligning ourselves with God’s will and rule by agreement of spirit and a confident trust in Him. This is called faith, and untainted faith is sourced in (or flows out of) love. If we love God, we desire His rule and his will to happen on earth, even if it goes against our natural desires; and this stands in direct contradistinction to the collective will of fallen, unregenerate humanity… which seeks self-will and self-rule at all costs. The “Lord’s Prayer” is a form of worship, not a revelation of God’s impotence. So, we may pray outright for healing (believer & non-believer alike), but if God does not heal you—in His Divine wisdom—will you love him and trust him anyway? Will you learn to pray with agreement from the heart, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” [*Note: this prayer is also prophetic concerning His future 1000 yr. reign from Jerusalem]

As Nick Vujicic says:

If you don’t get a miracle, be the miracle.”

10. God wants fellowship. More than any, God has suffered; because in all our suffering, He suffers. We are His Creation gone astray by the free will he gave us and enduring evils He never would have chosen for us. He also provides the remedy of His Son at His own costly expense. But, just like Abraham and all the patriarchs and great people of faith, they endured great hardship & testing down here, so that they would know the fellowship of Christ Jesus’ sufferings… a necessary “evil” that must go alongside of knowing “the power of His resurrection!” These people were called “friend” by God and enjoyed deep relationship with Him while on earth and afterward in Heaven. Are you desiring exemption from this? As Romans 8 puts it, “I reckon that the present sufferings of this age are nothing to be compared to the glory to be revealed in us…. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.” See Romans 4; 5:3; 8; Hebrews 11

…………………….

OTHER RESOURCES:

Key Word Search: Trials of Faith 

Dealing with Loss, Evil, Suffering and Hopelessness

For a list of people in the Bible who were righteous and not healed, see Warnings about the Word of Faith Movement

When God Says No