October 1, 1987 Issue

Brian Burns

First Samuel chapters 1-4 tell us something about a man named Eli. He was high priest and judge of the Jewish people. Eli had two sons who were priests, Hophni and Phinehas. These two were called, "sons of Belial", because of their sins, ch 2:12. They took their part of sacrificial meat before it was roasted, I Sam 2:13-15, they threatened anyone that opposed their error, vs. 16, caused people to abhor the sacrifices, vs. 17, committed adultery, vs. 22, and dishonored their fathers wishes, vs. 25. Eli's sons were known for their evil so he questions them and calls their deeds evil, vs. 23. Eli rebukes his sons for their sins and for causing the people to transgress. Many would think that Eli had done all that he could do. Could he have done more?

God said, "and he restrained them not" I Sam 3:13. Eli told them of their evil and made it plain that he did not approve, yet that was not good enough to please God. Eli still honored his sons above God, ch 2:29.

This same type of diluted discipline is causing congregations to crumble today. There are even those living in adultery who are accepted and protected by some. What is said in their defense? Our own brethren say, "so and so knows I don't approve", or "they are family", or "no good would come from withdrawing from them completely."

Lets look at Eli again. His sons knew he did not approve but simply expressing his disapproval was not enough. Eli could and should have expelled them from their position of power and influence. Instead, he stopped with a mild rebuke and lived with the problem. Being family, or even a friend, should not matter either when it comes to discipline. God did not appreciate cheating, adulterous, and disrespectful family members being honored above him, I Sam 2:29. Jesus said in Matt 10:36-37, "And a mans foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

If I Cor 5:5,11 were obeyed and the sinner withdrawn from, he might be saved. Then the leaven of sin would be removed from the church, vs. 6-7. Paul said in Gal 6:1 that the spiritual are to "restore" those overtaken. Restore here is the same word used in Matt 4:21 for mending the nets. We readily understand the need to mend a net so it might catch a fish. Then why do we often turn away from a lost brother or sister and refuse to exercise what the scriptures say can make them what they ought to be?

Brethren, there are people this very instant who are subjects for scriptural discipline. If carried out, their evil influence may be purged from the church and they might be made ashamed and repent. But, like Hophni and Phinehas, erring brethren will feel no shame or need to repent as long as their sin in tolerated. Then they too will lose their souls as these men lost their lives. Not only is the sinner punished but so is the one who honors the sinner above God and His will, (I Sam 2:27-36). Eli was punished for knowing and not correcting evil to the fullest of his ability and knowledge.

Today, problems arise and are complicated because they are not dealt with immediately. As long as a sinful situation is allowed to exist, without correction, it grows more complicated and difficult to curtail. Leaders and preachers need to take heed of Eli's situation. We all need to take heed and act according to the scriptures and not emotion. Let us act before our house is judged forever for the iniquity which we know and restrain not. Ez 33:8-9, "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."



Other Related OPA Article Links

Withdrawal of Fellowship
Spiritual Discipline

Brian Burns        1987       OPA Main Page        HOME


Hit Counter