"The Sinful Brother"
Even when a fellow Christian sins, Paul directs us to help him see his sin, but to remember that he is still our brother. Is this "tough love"?
The Sinful Brother
(2 Thes. 3:13-15)
A. I grew up with my dad sharing this poem called
“The Perfect Church”
I think that I shall never see
A church that’s all it ought to be;
A church whose members never stray
Beyond the straight and narrow way!
A church that has no empty pews,
Whose preacher never has the blues,
A church whose leaders always seek
Where none is proud, and all are meek;
Where gossips never peddle lies,
Or make complaints and criticize;
Where all are always sweet and kind
And to all others’ faults are blind.
Such perfect churches there may be,
But none of them are known to me.
But still we’ll work and pray and plan
To make our own the best we can.
B. One person described the church as place where you will find many wonderful people and few cranky ones. No, we are not a perfect church. Perfect in Christ? Yes. Perfect in our own righteousness and actions? No.
C. Paul had to teach the church in Thessalonica more from a distance than in person. He taught about heaven and the greatness of God. He taught them about how one day Jesus will come again and claim his own. How we will then spend eternity with him in glory. It was a message the church needed to hear because they faced persecution.
D. There are some people who deal with chronic pain. It is great when the doctor says that one day you will be pain free. You look forward to that day. You live in hope and you want everyone to know about that day of joy. But some in Thessalonica lived disorderly lives, idle and unchristian.
I. The Sinful Brother
A. There is a big difference between Christians who sin and a sinful brother. It is sad that we all struggle with sin. When it came to sin of others Paul says (1 Tim. 5:24).
B. In the church in Thessalonica, you have a situation where a few Christians are so harming the name of Jesus that they need to be dealt with before the church suffers greater harm in the community. When a preacher is caught stealing money from the church or have an affair, it is more than just that man that suffers, the who church suffers and the community begins to talk about that church.
C. So what constitutes being a sinful brother in Thessalonica? Look that the context and see what that brother is doing to cause such harm. (READ 2 Thes. 3:6) First thing Paul says is that he is idle, or walks disorderly. Here is a person who steps outside the teachings about how to live as Christian in references to being a giver instead of a taker. In this case, the sinful person or persons have become a leach on the church and maybe on society. They no longer are productive because they like being lazy and think they can use the right religious terminology to get by with it.
D. But there was more to their sin than just being lazy, these people were also busybodies (READ 2 Thes. 3:11). You know these types of people. They judge your life telling you what to do as those their opinion is fact. These particular Christians were causing discord in the church family. In Prov. 6:19 ends God’s list of things he hates by saying, “and one who sows discord among his brothers.” When Christians start causing problems in the church family, action has to be taken. But what action?
II. Don’t Associate With Him
A. Many parents have quoted 1 Cor. 15:33 to their kids, “evil companions corrupt good morals.” What parents area saying to their kids, is there are certain kids that bring you down. When you hang out with that crowd, you will find yourself in trouble. God says now practice that in the church.
B. In 1 Cor. 5, Paul was in shock that the church seemed to not only tolerate a wicked sin, but brag about it. He called on the church to step up to judge the man. Listen to (1 Cor. 5:12-13). How difficult is it to practice discipline with adults in the church? Listen to what Paul says to the church in Thessalonica (2 Thes. 3:6, 14).
C. Do you think this was easy? I don’t think so. This church loved one another deeply. But they must now practice that love in a very uncomfortable way toward those among them that were not following the commands. They had to give them a clear message that showed them that they were acting unacceptably. Many people call it shunning. Is it Christian to shun another person? Is it loving to distance yourself from a Christian who misbehaves? What does this teach?
D. I read a sermon that said, “Where there is no discipline there is no love. Where there is no discipline Christianity falls apart and fails. Discipline is part of loving and growing in Christ. Those who will not receive discipline will not grow. The church that allows its members to live unruly, and refuses to practice discipline, does violence to the cause of Christ and loses their influence for good in the world. Undisciplined parents can’t raise disciplined children. Undisciplined churches can’t raise disciplined Christians.”
A. There is a caveat that God gives this church in Thessalonica. It is found in verse 15. How does a church do this? We talk about tough love where we let a person fail who is making terrible choices. We help pick up pieces once they realize they are hurting themselves.
B. The purpose of withdrawing social fellowship is for that sinful person to recognize their own sin. Until they see their sin for what it is, they only emotion they will have is anger. When they see their action as sin, they will repent and experience both guilt and grace.
C. Some of us have hidden sins that need our attention as the Spirit shines his light on to the darkness of sin. Let God love you into righteousness.