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Are We To Avoid Backslidden Christians?
by Greg Baker
1/31/2011 / Bible Studies
There are a variety of verses in the Bible that seem to command us to avoid fallen or backslidden Christians. Yet one verse in particular, Galatians 6:1, commands us to restore fallen Christians. What are we to do?
1 CORINTHIANS 5:11
1 Corinthians 5:11 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.
To begin with, the word 'company' is talking of mixing together in a casual sense, to associate in a way we would normally think of when we attend a party or social gathering of some sort. This is born out by the last phrase of the verse, 'with such an one no not to eat.'
The Scriptures teach that we ought to avoid being casual about someone's sin. This doesn't mean that we can't try to restore them. In fact, this entire passage deals with a man who Paul asked to be removed from the Church, but later, in 2 Corinthians 2:7, these same Christians were commanded to forgive and comfort this same fallen Christian. They were commanded to restore him.
Whoever controls the atmosphere controls the influence.
You can help restore a fallen Christian without having to immerse yourself in his sin. You don't have to be a drunk to reach a drunk. You don't have to be a fornicator to reach a fornicator. But you do need compassion to make a difference. Although I may avoid a casual atmosphere I cannot control, I will seek to bring a fallen Christian into an environment I control in order to help him.
2 THESSALONIANS 3:6, 14
2 Thessalonians 3:6 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 he received of us.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
The purpose of the passage is a warning not to follow and thus get caught up in the disorderly conduct of those who become busybodies. Certainly these people are fallen, but following them is not a proper means of restoring them to the faith. These people are more than just fallen. They are attempting to become the dominate force within their sphere of influence. They seek to take charge and control things to the point of ignoring the Word of God as warned in verse 14.
The withdrawal from their influence was an attempt to get them to realize the error of their ways and to come back. Not to ostracize them and ignore them.
But the key to the passage is actually found in verse 15:
2 Thessalonians 3:15 - Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Ah, here then is the heart of the matter. We aren't supposed to treat these people as if they're suddenly enemies of the faith, but rather to treat them as a brother with the full intention of bringing them back to the faith.
2 TIMOTHY 3:1-5
2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
I believe this is talking about a type of Christian that has not just fallen, but turned away from the truth and then perverted it in their hearts. These people can't be restored because they don't want to be restored.
There are some fallen Christians that just won't be restored due to their own mindset. They have literally become enemies of the cross. As such, you ought to avoid them.
2 JOHN 1:10, ROMANS 16:16-17, and 1 TIMOTHY 6:3-5
I believe these passages are talking about false prophets and teachersthose who intentionally, or even ignorantly, promote false doctrine and truth. It is due to these verses that I won't let anyone teaching something contrary to the Scriptures into my house, be it another religion or a parody of Christianity. Nor will I join with them in some benign endeavor. They are coming to my door to promote their false beliefs. I won't receive them, and I dead sure won't ask God to bless their endeavors. Thus, I won't even work with them in something where people could learn of or become enamored with their false beliefs.
To be clear, the teaching does not encourage you to be rude or to vilify them. We are commanded to love even our enemies. The command is to avoid being caught up in their false teachings.
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. 16 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. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
This passage isn't just talking about a fallen Christian. Rather, it is talking about how one Christian ought to address a grievance with another Christian. Either or both Christians involved may or may not be fallen. Lord willing, the process will never go so far as to being forced to bring in the entire Church to deal with such a relationship problem.
WE ARE COMMANDED TO RESTORE A FALLEN CHRISTIAN
Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
If the opportunity to help someone come back presents itself, we ought to take it. How many Christians would have come back if it wasn't for a fellow Christian who rejected their efforts to come back? It saddens me to think of it.
Be wise in how you handle it, but let us restore anyone back to the loving embrace of Jesus Christ as we can!
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