Shunning is Not Always Wrong

Many times I have heard people criticize churches and Christians for “shunning” someone. And in many of those cases the criticism is valid because the person being shunned is in fact a victim of some evil which the church refused to confront. Instead, they blamed the victim and threw them under the bus.

Somehow the idea of “shunning” someone has become something that is thought to be always evil and wrong. But that is not so. The Bible is quite plain that there are people with whom we are to have nothing to do. People we are to shun. Here are some scriptural examples:

1Co 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Rom 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

I could go on citing more, but this certainly should suffice to prove that the Christian is to keep away from, avoid, and not even eat with certain people. Namely and especially, people who claim to be Christians but who are walking in evil and therefore are servants of the devil.

This idea that shunning is always wrong and evil in itself is something that is often used to justify keeping the wicked in the church, enabling them in their evil. But to do so is to refuse to obey the clear commands of the Lord. For myself, I simply cannot understand why any real Christian would want to continue in fellowship with a counterfeit believer who has crept in among the brethren to destroy and harm. We are light in the Lord. Why would we want to associate and be bound together with darkness?

Notice once again (you see it in the verses quoted above) that it is not the average, normal unbeliever that is the most serious threat to the church, though of course we are not to be intimately connected with them either. I count numbers of unsaved people as my friends. But I wouldn’t marry one. I socialize with them (as Jesus ate with sinners) but I realize that we are not at all on the same page when it comes to ultimate truths of God’s Word. Nevertheless, the greatest evil, the most wicked and dangerous person, comes to us disguised as a sheep, yet is a ravenous wolf. If someone claims to be a brother in Christ but in fact bears evil fruit as a regular pattern of his life, then that is the person to shun.

So, yes, I shun certain people. Our church shuns certain people. And in doing so we are obeying our Lord’s command.

The True Christian Forgives as Jesus Forgives – True, and False

This past week my wife and I were driving up the interstate when we saw a large billboard that said:

Real Christians Forgive Like Jesus

The sign also included a Scripture reference,

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

This is an example of not only misusing Scripture, but of dealing simplistically with a Bible doctrine that requires far more than a mere five words on a sign. And it is not harmless! Great damage is done by these kinds of foolish statements thrown out at people like cannon shots.

The pessimistic realist that I am, I suggest to you that I know what the message is that these sign preachers are throwing at us. “You don’t forgive like Jesus forgives. If you are a real Christian, then you must love your enemies (true). And this means that you must not seek justice for wrongs they have done you, you must strive to maintain relationship with them, and if you don’t do these things then you are not forgiving as Jesus forgives and it is doubtful you are a Christian at all.

Yes, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive those who crucified Him. But a short time before He was put on the cross (see John 17) Jesus specifically said that He was praying for those the Father had given to Him, not for the whole world. Jesus knows His elect. And Jesus’ death on the cross at the hands of these people was an act of redemption and atonement for His own. Jesus, in other words, was unique. To make an across the board simplistic application of Jesus’ prayer for His enemies there on the cross to every single Christian in every single case subsequent to the cross is foolish.

But there is more.

How does Jesus forgive? Does He forgive everyone? Of course not. Check this out:

2Th 1:5-10 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– (6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

We could go on and on. The Lord does not forgive everyone. And yet these signboard preachers throw distortions of Bible truth at car after car motoring up the freeway, insisting that a real Christian forgives everyone no matter what. Offers the worst of them warm hugs and kisses. I ask you, is this what we see Jesus doing in the Gospels? Is this what the Apostles preached and practiced as recorded in The Acts and the Epistles? Of course not.

One final point (though I could go on and on).

Unsaved people see signs like this and do you know what they conclude? I know unsaved people. I know lots of them. Many are my friends. I know what they would have said if they were in my car when I went past that sign. “Christians are idiots and fools.” And you know what? People who claim to be Christians but who distort and pervert the Word of God like this are fools indeed!

Christians, true Christians, really do forgive as Jesus did. And more. We pray for God’s holy wrath and justice to break out upon the wicked and destroy them for their oppression of the widow and orphan. Yep –

Psa 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? (22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

You Cannot Appease Evil – It Will Just Grow Stronger

Pro 22:10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

A widespread, common, and dangerous fallacy rampant among Christians is that if victims of evil just submit to it, if they work harder at not provoking it, if they look within themselves and try to see that they have a share in the blame for the abuse, then eventually the evil oppressor will be satisfied and back off. Appeasement is the word for all this. Appeasement of evil by giving it what it wants.

If you study the buildup in the 1930’s to the second world war and watch the policy of appeasement toward Hitler and the Nazis at work, you will have a real lesson in wisdom. The leaders of Britain, with very few exceptions, embraced the policy of appeasement by giving Hitler what he wanted time after time. Even France held back at critical times when they should have been preparing for war because they didn’t want to make Hitler mad. Chamberlain and others embracing this fantasyland philosophy of appeasement sold out Czechoslovakia, Poland, and other countries all with the goal of giving Hitler what he wanted to appease him. Eventually, they insisted, he would be satisfied with what he had and his aggression would cease.

Wrong. WWII. Near destruction of all democracy in Europe if not in the world.

You cannot appease evil. You must not appease evil. Evil sees appeasement as weakness. Hitler viewed Chamberlain and his crowd was wimps and fools, which actually they were.

The same kind of appeasement policy is being pushed for by today’s political liberals. Don’t do anything to upset the tyrants. Give them piles of money. Promise to stay out of their business. Wear the blame for all that is wrong in the world. Believe their promises. And all the while they continue to secretly arm themselves for world domination. Hitler, you know, had specific plans for invasion of England and it included rounding up all males of age and shipping them into Europe to serve the Nazis as slaves. It very nearly happened. And then he planned to come for us here in the U.S.

In churches today, evil is being “dealt with” by a policy of this same kind of appeasement. “Don’t push his buttons,” abuse victims are told. “Submit even more and eventually he will change for the better.”  And we in the church, well, we are supposed to love, love, love the unrepentant evil man or woman with the same kind of insane foolhardiness that Chamberlain used on Hitler.

Evil is never appeased. Never. The devil never has enough slaves, never tires of working his wickedness. He is a murderer and the father of lies by nature, and so are his children (see John 8). We must stand up to evil. We must call it out. We must expose evildoers who are parading as Christians in our churches, and we must never, ever tell abuse victims that they must work to appease their abuser. That is spiritual malpractice. It is to ally with the wicked.

 

The Danger of Confusing Faith with Superstition

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Many non-Christians accuse Christians of being superstitious (and therefore foolish) people. Some of these accusations are correct. Let me show you why. First, some definitions:

Faith is trust in God. Superstition is trust in man.

Faith is reliance upon God’s Word. Superstition is reliance upon man’s word.

Faith has what is unseen as its object. Superstition’s focus is upon man’s visible, tangible actions.

Faith is reliance upon God’s actions. Superstition is reliance upon man’s actions.

We could continue making these contrasts, but this should be sufficient.

Now, why do I maintain that the “faith” of many professing Christians is actually superstition? Let me give you some examples.

  • I have been very good today. God will give me that new job.
  • If I just keep working harder and harder on submitting to my abuser husband, God will work a miracle and change him.
  • If I don’t go to church this Sunday, God will not bless me this week.
  • I am going to gather as many people together to pray and God will heal my friend. The more people we get to pray, the more likely God will hear us.
  • I faithfully tithe to my church. God will give me back more than I give.

Understand? Do you see that these common notions are all examples, not of real faith, but of superstition? It is pure myth that by my doings I can manipulate God. That is not Christianity. It is pagan magic. You see it in Rome. Say this many hail whatevers, crawl up so many stone steps, etc, etc, and God will act. But evangelicals have their own brand of chants, charms, and mantras.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and if you are a Christian, there is a very high probability that you have been told/taught/indoctrinated with superstitions of this sort. And perhaps you are even still clinging to them. They need to go. To the dump. Right away.

Superstition has as its agenda man’s agenda. Faith trusts in God’s agenda. So to remain in an abusive marriage under the guise of “faith and obedience” as the path to the salvation of your abuser and the healing of your marriage is superstition. It is seeking your own agenda. Most often, God’s agenda is radically different than ours – and radically better. The one is fiction, the other is reality given and scripted by God alone.

Take a close look at yourself. How much of your “faith” could actually be superstition? And in what ways is that superstition working to keep you in bondage?