Does the biblical doctrine of disassociation from false Christians apply to only the church? Or does that principle extend to other areas of life (i.e. work, school, family, etc.)?
This is a good one for a certain reason that I want to try to draw out here. "I have a guy at my job..." This is coming from Ty. "I have a guy at my job who claimed to be a Christian..." past tense. I don't know that he's stopped claiming to be a Christian. "I believed him at first and accepted him as a brother. I started to see who he really was. After months, I rebuked him. His language and actions got worse. I voiced to him I didn't believe he was born again." (incomplete thought) And he references 1 Corinthians 5 concerning avoiding people. "Even after this, he continues to try to converse with me."
So basically, he's taking a position with this guy not to associate with him. "How do you handle or avoid such a person?" Now the question I want to ask everybody is this: Does Matthew 18 - where if somebody sins against me, I should go to him; and if they don't hear me, I should take two or three; if they don't hear me, I should take it before the church; if they don't hear us, we treat them like a tax collector; and then 1 Corinthians where you have somebody that sins - it's more overt; it's more public - it doesn't need to be dealt with in more of a concealed, slowly-evolving fashion. It's so public that you put the person out of the church immediately. Here's my question. I recognize his question is how do you avoid a person that you work with? We can get to that in a moment. But the question I would ask is this: Should we even use Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5 in the workplace? Is that for the church? And life in the church? Should we carry that over to the workplace? Should we carry that over to school? Should we carry that over to the family? Should we carry that over to like the women's Grace House? Should we do that? Is that proper? What do you think? (from the room) What's his brother? Probably somebody who is a professing Christian? (unintelligible)
Tim: Okay, so if we think about Matthew 18, it says specifically, "if a brother sins against you..." Then what's the whole point? Trying to gain your brother. Specifically - brother. In 1 Corinthians 5, the idea is anybody who calls himself a brother. So, what do you think? Here's the question I would ask. Okay, we are on the fringes of the Bible belt. If every single person who claimed to be a Christian, but didn't live like one, if we automatically disassociate ourselves - outside of the church - Look, if you go to your workplace, you go to your school, you go to the HEB you shop at, and you just start asking people: "Are you a Christian?" And then you start asking them about their life, do you know what you're going to find? 99.9% of the time, their life does not measure up to true biblical Christianity. And if you take those principles and you apply them, especially in a country like ours, you know what you're going to do? You're going to end up disassociating with all manner of people that you ought to be evangelizing. So I think we need to be careful, because I don't think we want to fall into that. Here's one thing to think about. The church that we're in - I'll tell you this, we have an expectation that people that are within the walls of our church actually are people who have been exposed to the truth, and actually do have some idea about what it is to be a Christian, to be a brother or a sister in the Lord. There is massive ignorance out there. Now, I know this country is becoming burned over, and I know atheism (incomplete thought). But if you ask people if they're Christians, what do you think? What do you think if you walked up and down these streets, and you just started asking people one after another, "are you Christians?" What do you think a percentage would be that would say yes? Pretty high. Those are exactly the people that we should be being lights to. Those are exactly the people that what we want to do is we want to seek to help bring those people out of their ignorance and out of their darkness. Here's the thing, the picture of Matthew 18 is kind of like of two brothers who are close, in a church, and we lose a brother, because isn't that what we're trying to do? Gain our brother? How do you lose him? Well, because there's sin between the two of you. But the idea is you've got two people that are close and they're together in the same church, and they've sinned, and they're seeking reconciliation. If you think about the emphasis there in 1 Corinthians 5, we don't want the leaven. We don't want the leaven in the church. But you see, the truth is, the guy at work - we're not allowing him in the church. See, there's a whole difference here. It's not like the guy that you work with shows up and wants to talk to James and myself and he's wanting to join the church. That's not what's happening. It's not like we let him into the church and now this has happened. These are people that are outside. And the thing is, yes, you could say, you know what? Leaven. That's influence. You could say that somebody is having an influence on you that's not good and you need to avoid them. But see, I would say that's true saved or lost. I mean, when I first got saved, I thought I could hang out with my lost buddies and I really did want to evangelize them. But you know where I was evangelizing them? In the bars. You look at that now and you'd laugh. But coming out of the lifestyle that I came out of, that wasn't laughable. I mean, that's what we did all the time. And that's where my friends were. And I wanted to tell them the truth. And I would say before the Lord, Lord, I'm only going to have two beers tonight. And I'd have four. Well, as much as I drank back then, that didn't get me drunk, but you know what? I didn't keep my word. So I'd come home grieved. And that happened enough times where I thought, you know what? I've talked to these guys and I'm not being a good influence on them. They're being a bad one on me. And I'd recognize I'm not capable of doing this anymore. But I think that's a big question to ask. Because that seems to be the issue - leaven. It seems to be the issue. (incomplete thought) And I think we need to ask that. Is there a place to do what he did? You've got somebody telling you they're a Christian, and you're looking, watching their life and it doesn't seem to be very Christian - to say, "I don't think you're born again"? Do we have a right to judge people like that? Yeah, you better believe we do. Scripture says that we do. Let me ask you this. Where does it say that we do? Where is there judgment shown in Scripture? (from the room) Judge a tree by its fruit.
Tim: That's one place. Can anybody think of anywhere else? Or even where Scripture just dogmatically makes a statement about somebody? Now, we might say, that's God's Word and God has the right to make a statement, but I mean, the truth is sometimes it's God's men - yes, they're under inspiration, but they're making observations about the church and they're dogmatically making statements, such as... anybody think of any? (from the room) They told Simon, "your heart is not right before God."
Tim: See, there's a situation right there. You've got Peter and he comes face-to-face with a guy who Scripture says believed and was baptized under Phillip's preaching. And Peter comes along and says, "You're going to perish." (from the room) He even said "your heart." It's like he judges the heart right there.
Tim: Right. Can you think of anywhere else? (from the room) I'm thinking in the sense of Paul when he went to Galatia. There were these professing Judaizers.
Tim: Yeah, there's these guys preaching error to the Galatians, and he's says some of the strongest things he ever says. They're talking about circumcision and he's saying some - in the vernacular, it was pretty rough language. You have John. He says they went out from us and they weren't of us. And he can make that judgment. He says if they were of us, they would not have gone out from us. And you know the reality is, very, very seldom does anybody leave our church who's genuine and goes off to another church. I mean, they leave because they don't like the church, they don't like the teaching, they don't like something. I'm not talking about a transfer or something. But they leave because they don't like something and they go off. Very seldom are they legitimate Christians. Most of the time, that reality is true. They went out from us because they weren't of us. You know, we can think of Matt. He left. At first, you hope the best, but as time goes on, he says he's not saved. That's what happens. But Scripture talks this way. Scripture talks about people that make shipwreck. Scripture talks about people who are not genuine. Scripture talks about false brethren. Scripture talks about those who are tares. It talks that way. And as far as us making judgments concerning it, I mean, look, there's oftentimes that the writers of Scripture are charitable. They're kind. I mean, Paul could look at the Corinthians, but he still said you need to examine yourselves whether you're in the faith. Why? Because some of them were demonstrating lifestyles that were questionable at best. (from the room) I have a question for you. Do you think there's a difference between somebody who if you were to ask him would he call himself a Christian, but in a workplace wouldn't say that they are. They don't tell other people about their Christianity, versus someone who is very open about being a Christian and yet their lives don't reflect that?
Tim: Well, I think the big deal with that is they dishonor Christ. They dishonor the name of Christianity. (incomplete thought) If you've got a genuine Christian in the workplace, and then you've got somebody who's a false Christian, and maybe they're even more vocal about telling people they're a Christian. I'll tell you this, we're just focusing down and narrowing down to the workplace. But the reality is the world out here is exactly like that. And the thing is that yeah, the world loves to say, "Aha! You're just like me." But you know what gets them? It's the guy over there that isn't like them. And you can go around finding all the counterfeit dollars all day - don't you have a counterfeit dollar in there? That's a true one. See, you can have a bunch of counterfeit money, but it doesn't negate the real one. And that's the problem. You know what? You go in a workplace, you go in a school, you go wherever you go, if you act the part of the real Christian, and you walk in the fear of God, and you're honest and you show integrity, you'll stand out. People see it. And they know. And they can mock and they can carry on about the false guy, but you are a thorn in their side, because they don't like it. Because it condemns them. That's the reality. It condemns them. When I got saved, my friends had to come up with explanations for it. Well, you know what they say. "This isn't going to last long." "He'll get over this." It's always something. (incomplete thought) The last time I was up there - one of the last times - and I had a group of the guys gathered around, I said uh huh... it's been 20 years, and I'm still following Christ. And they threw all their theories out. And I got to preach to them about being born again. And the thing is it's like they've got to come up with some kind of explanation. Because they know - they know something happened to me. And if you can't explain that away, (incomplete thought) Well, I think I'm okay, but something happened to him, and it didn't happen to me. And if that's the real thing, I'm in trouble. (from the room) Brother, I had a text if you don't mind if I share it. It's 2 John 9, it says, "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting. For whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." That might be more so teaching, (unintelligible)
Tim: Well, that definitely is teaching. They're going on ahead. What they're doing is they're leaving behind this deposit of faith that's once been delivered to the people of God. And they're moving beyond that. You don't want to be innovative. This is the same truth that has been believed for 2,000 years and handed down. What I would say there is obviously that is the kind of thing where what you want to be sensitive to is somehow encouraging them or applauding them, somehow sanctioning what they're doing. If a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon comes to my door, I will not shake their hand. But, if I had a flat tire and a guy pulled over and I became aware he was a Mormon, and he helped me fix the tire, and he wasn't there preaching at me about his false doctrine, I would shake his hand when I was done. Why? Because I'm not encouraging his false teaching. I think that's the issue there. I don't think it means that if you find out somebody's a Catholic, well, "oh, that's heresy! That's damnable! Mary worship! They believe in works. I can't shake your hand." I don't think that that's what's being called for there, but I think it's got to do with directly endorsing or encouraging their preaching. And when they're at your door wanting to speak it, assuming the best - just two days ago, a preacher showed up at the door. I saw this guy. It was strange - my office is out here on the front. And I'm looking out the window and a guy - now this field over here is contained. It's got fences all the way around it. So you don't come out of the middle of that field unless you purposely went out there. And there's a hill and there's trees out there. And I'm looking and a guy comes out from underneath the trees. What's this guy doing? And then he's making a bee line straight towards my front door. So I'm watching him, watching him. I thought yeah, this guy's coming to the door. So I run down and he's a preacher. And he was wanting to invite me to his church and I didn't ask him, what were you doing under the trees? But I told him we have a burden for the East side, and we go door-to-door and I got him one of the shocking DVD's and put it in his hand. I think I shook his hand. I don't know what he teaches. And we didn't really get into it. But I think there's a place for us to be kind. I don't think that the place of the Christian (incomplete thought) I don't think it's the place to come across to the world like we're sour, dour, mean. But, if somebody's dishonoring Christ and teaching another gospel, don't endorse it. Don't shake their hands. There's a place just to speak to them like Paul spoke because they're damning souls. You smile and shake the hand of the Mormon, what they are trying to do is take your neighbors to the pit with them. They don't believe that, but that's exactly what it is. So I would just say this, look, Christians, we live in the land of false professions galore. We need to be light in those situations. And I would not cut off association with people because somebody's got a false profession, you being real may be the very thing that God will use to open their eyes. And you being mean to them is not what does it. I mean, you think about it. You think about Jesus and His interaction with like a Pharisee. He'd go eat at their house. What was that saying? Did he know that they held to some kind of Judaistic error? Of course He did. Did He know they were lost? Yes. And He would even in His conversations with them, after they called Him out, said He had a devil, called Him a Samaritan, He was still saying, "I say these things that you might be saved." He's still showing a kindness and a compassion to them. He wouldn't endorse their teaching. Paul wouldn't endorse their teaching.