|Vol. 2, No. 5||Page 8||May 2000|
Always Stay in Rank
You have probably seen pictures of soldiers. You may have seen a movie with soldiers in it. Soldiers serve their country by fighting to protect it. They are trained to be the best at what they do. Sometimes they train very hard so that they can undergo the worst conditions and still be able to fight well.
The military has a strict set of rules. All of the soldiers must follow these rules. And there is a set protocol. This means that the lowest level of soldiers (low rank) must follow what their leader (high rank) says. And that leader must follow what his leader says. The following of protocol and rules is very important. If everyone does what they are supposed to do, then the military has a good chance of winning the battles when they occur.
But sometimes there is a soldier who decides he does not want to follow the rules or the protocol. He may decide it is not necessary for him to do certain things according to the rules. Or he may decide he knows better how to do something than the person leading him. So, this soldier does what he wants to do. This is called “breaking rank.”
We are called soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). Christ is the head of our army. We are to follow his rules and regulations. We are to stay in rank with the protocols he has established to rule the church.
He tells us that there are some who will not stay in rank. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we read, “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.” The word “disorderly” is the word in the Greek used for not keeping rank in the military.
In the military, a soldier who does not keep rank is punished severely. In fact, in some nations he is killed. God says we are to withdraw from the Christian soldier who breaks rank. This is different from the person who slips into trouble. He is to be helped. But the soldier who purposely decides to break rank must be punished.
Study God’s Word. Know what you are to do to obey God. And then obey him. Do not break rank. Stay in rank.
You May Have to
In the days of the Bible, much travel was done by ship. The people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea many times would travel to other nations by ship. These ships had sails. The sailors were very skilled in positioning the sails so that they could go where they wanted to go.
The sails could be turned so that the ship would go with the wind. No matter which direction the wind was blowing the sails could be positioned so that the ship would go where the sailors wanted to go, even if it was against the wind.
The sails could be fully extended for speed. Or the sails could be compacted or shortened for accuracy of direction in difficult weather conditions. In very bad storms, the sails could be destroyed if they were not compacted. And by compacting the sails, the ship could be quickly moved away from dangerous rocks that would sink the ship.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we read, “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.” The word “withdraw” is from the Greek word used for shortening or compacting your sails.
You are to quickly move away from the Christian who has decided not to follow Christ. You are to shorten your sails so that you will not be sunk on the dangerous rock of his actions. You compact your sails so that your sails are not destroyed by his dangerous winds. And you compact your sails so that he sees you leaving him behind as you more accurately sail your ship toward heaven.
This action is done in the hope that the disorderly brother will change his ways and sail the way he should. It is not done in a mean way, but in a way that will make him ashamed that he has left following Christ.
It is hoped that we never have to shorten our sails when dealing with a fellow Christian. But sometimes it is necessary. Study the Bible so that you will know when it is right to do so.
Have you ever looked through a microscope? These are used to see more clearly things that are very small. Sometimes it is very important to be able to see these small things. Germs are very small but they can cause people to be very sick. It is important to be able to see which germ is causing the sickness so that the right medicine may be given.
Have you ever looked through a telescope? These are used to see things which are far away. Large telescopes can look at things way out in space. Smaller telescopes such as binoculars can make things look closer that are across a field from you. Binoculars used to be very important in war. The one using the binoculars could see the enemy coming when they were still far away. This gave them time to prepare to battle the enemy.
In Romans 16:17-18, we read,
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good works and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
The word “mark” is the Greek word for scope. You are to watch very closely those individuals who cause problems in the church. The problem may be a small one, but able to cause great sickness in the church. Or the person may be one who has caused problems somewhere else and is on his way to cause problems where you are. You are to keep your eye on the person even though he is far off. This way you can see when he is getting close and can be ready to battle him.
In fact, you are to avoid this kind of person. This means to turn away from him. He must know that you do not want anything to do with him. And this keeps him away from those in the church who do not know enough not to be harmed by him.
You must study the Bible to make sure you are not one of simple ones who can be lead away by the troublemaker. You must learn to use your biblical knowledge as a microscope and a telescope.
Do Not Be Leaven
Leaven is considered to be good dough. It is not fermented, meaning it is not old. Leaven makes the dough rise when making bread. In the Old Testament, leaven was used to make bread. But it was not allowed to be in the house during the Passover. And if a person was found to have leaven in his house during the Passover, he was considered unclean. He was cut off from the congregation. He was no longer considered a part of the congregation of Israel.
This leaven was a symbol of impurity and sin. In the fifth chapter of the book of 1 Corinthians is a discussion of this symbol. The person who is sinning in a very public way should not be allowed to be a part of the congregation, the church. This is to keep the church pure. Even a “little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” The word ‘little’ is the word for very, very small. It only takes one person who is sinning this way to affect the whole congregation in a bad way.
In order to keep the sin from spreading in the congregation, the person should be sent from the congregation. He should know he cannot remain a part of the congregation unless he changes his life. He must understand he cannot worship in sincerity or truth until he changes.
I want to be a part of God’s church. I know you do too. Study God’s Word, the Bible, and learn what you are to do to obey God. Learn to be unleaven. Do not be leaven. Do not accept others who have leaven.
Do Not Be Out of Joint
Most of your bones are connected by joints. These joints have muscles and tendons that hold the bones in place. And the bones fit together the way God designed them to do.
Sometimes a bone will get forced out of joint. Instead of fitting nicely with the bone it is supposed to fit with, it ends up being pulled away in a different direction. The muscles and tendons get stretched too far and sometimes may tear. This is a very painful problem. And the joint no longer works as God designed it to do. In fact, the joint is useless.
If this joint is involved with an arm or a leg, the arm or leg is useless. The arm may hang at a strange angle. Unless it is put back into joint, it will remain useless.
God says that there are some in the church who will become out of joint. In Titus 3:10-11, we read,
“A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”
The words “being condemned” are from the word used by the Greeks for having a limb out of joint.
But God says that the heretic forced himself out of joint. What a silly thing for a person to do -- force his own joint out of joint. Yet, this is what the heretic has done spiritually. He forces himself into a very painful and useless condition. If he had a physical joint out of place, he would be seeking a doctor to repair it. But it is his spiritual joint out of place and he did this on purpose. He is not looking to the spiritual Physician for help.
The church is to give him a first and second admonition to fix his joint. If he does not, he is to be rejected. He is no longer to be considered a part of the congregation of God.
I want to be in joint. I know you want to be in joint. You must learn God’s Word and always obey it. You must not try to cause trouble in the church.
[Editor’s Note: The subject of this article is one that elders, preachers and every member need to address for the spiritual well-being of the church and wayward members. Unfortunately, church discipline (and the preferred self-discipline) is a woefully neglected topic in the contemporary church, for which reason the church often suffers needlessly. The beauty of this article is that it addresses such crucial biblical information on a fifth-grade reading level. Through the writings of brother Mark McWhorter, young people can obtain a head start on some of the biblical knowledge with which every child of God needs to be familiar. Brother McWhorter is to be commended for his persistent interest in youth whom he addresses regularly on a level that they can understand.]