“And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thes. 3:14-15, HCSB*
Here we have from Paul a good corrective for two erroneous tendencies among Christians. The first error tolerates those who oppose Christian teachings, not bothering to correct either false beliefs or sinful behaviors. In our “tolerant” age this is surely a great temptation for us all. But the second error can be just as destructive. How easy it is to consign the obstinate or struggling among us to the realm of ‘tax collector and sinners.’
Instead, we must keep the Apostle’s word near. By not associating with a stray Christian we cause him to – hopefully – realize the seriousness of his rebellion and repent. If we ‘wink’ at sin and refuse to discipline properly, the man will continue to think he’s fine spiritually, when in reality his soul could be in danger. Additionally, other church members are instructed by the actions (or lack thereof) taken against him; the hope being that they will not fall into the same error, but rather continue in the fear of the Lord.
We must also be cautious in how such situations are handled, carefully watching our attitude toward the disobedient member. Understanding that discipline is born of love, we must treat the offender accordingly, not as “an enemy,” but “as a brother.”
*Scripture taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.