June 1, 1987
Voyd N. Ballard

It seems that some are taking the position that a member of the church who falls into sin and quits the church, refusing to repent of his sins, is not subject to withdrawal action by the church. l Cor.5 has been cited in support of this position. I believe this position is wrong for the following reasons:

1. The command to withdraw from the ungodly is not limited to those who are still trying to be members of a local congregation, whether or not the congregation is puffed up, nor whether or not the sinful member is bothering the church.

2. The command in l Cor.5 "not to keep company" with sinful members was not limited to this man who had his fathers wife. Fornication was not by any means the only sin that demanded a withdrawal of fellowship. Paul plainly commanded "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." (Verse 11)

3. The church being "puffed up" was not (and is not) a condition of withdrawal. It is true that the Corinthian church was "puffed up" in this case, but they were wrong in being so just as they were wrong in their division of chapter one and in their misuse of the communion in chapter eleven.

4. If we take the position that the church must be "puffed up" and must condone the sin of fornication to extortion because Paul commanded that we not keep company with any brother habitually practicing such sins.

5. The command to withdraw from the ungodly could not have applied to this man who had his fathers wife exclusively because the apostle had already written the Corinthian church in a former epistle not to company with fornicators. (Verse 9) Nothing is here said about whether or not these fornicators were still trying to be members of the congregation or whether they had already chosen "to withdraw themselves from the church". Withdrawing themselves from the church, not bothering the church, of their own volition severing all ties with the church, and the church not being puffed up, were not necessary existing conditions to withdrawal. Paul simply commanded not to keep company with fornicators who were called brethren. He had already given the Corinthians this command in a previous letter, and he now writes them again in l Cor.5 not only to put away that particular wicked person, but not to keep company with "any man that is called a brother" and who is guilty of sins. I notice that even without scriptural precedent to withdraw from the sinful brother who has chosen to quit the church still call him "brother" thus denying their own affirmation for Paul said not to company with "any brother" guilty of such sins, and he DID NOT say unless he has already severed all ties with the church.

Other Related OPA Article Links:

Withdrawal of Fellowship    

Voyd N. Ballard
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