Kicked Out Any Sinners Lately?

Calling it a church does not make it a church. Americans who regularly attend church have grown familiar with what we call church. Unfortunately, most American churches bear little resemblance to the local churches identified in the New Testament.

In America, the “success” of any church is defined by the number of members. Churches with more members are considered more successful than smaller churches. Pastors of larger churches are considered more successful than pastors of smaller churches. But is bigger always better? It makes sense that more people in the church means more people are getting helped. Sounds good so far. But that assumes the church remains true to the scriptural definitions of what a church should be. America is full of churches, big and small, that have become nothing more than social clubs. They have a form of godliness but they deny the power and the presence of God. As a result, many churches are powerless and ineffective.

One area of compromise is obedience to the scriptural mandates for how to deal with sin in the church. This is the elephant in the sanctuary that nobody wants to talk about. The Bible instructs churches to kick out anyone who is living in unrepentant sin. Out the door they go, handed over to the devil, or at least that is where they’re supposed to go. Is this happening in your church?

In the scripture passage shown below, Paul pulls no punches when he clearly explains to the Corinthians how to deal with unrepentant sinners.

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:1-7 NASB)

When was the last time your church kicked out a member? Okay forget your church, when was the last time you heard of any church anywhere doing this? I have been a believer now for 30 years. During that time, I have lived in several different cities and belonged to several different churches. I also worked full time for a ministry for about 8 months. In all this time, I never saw or heard of anyone getting kicked out of any church anywhere for unrepentant sin.

If there are any churches truly obeying the scriptures, I haven’t heard of them. That is a sad statement. But here is something just as sad. People are getting kicked out of churches, but not because of sin. I have heard of several people getting kicked out of churches for drawing too close to God. At one church I used to belong to, the pastor himself had been kicked out of his previous church, where he was the pastor. He wasn’t kicked out for any sin problems though. He was kicked out because he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He strayed from their church doctrines when he began doing things they considered weird, like praying for people who wanted prayer and ministering to them by laying his hands on them while he prayed. So dangerous!

Even though the Bible instructs church leaders to lay hands on people while praying for them, his church was not interested in what the Bible says. Their religious doctrine was all that mattered to them, so they kicked him out.

He is not the only one. Many people have been forced to leave churches because they dared to get too hungry for God. They dared to believe in obeying the scriptures, not just some of them but all of them. They dared to believe scriptures that contradicted their church’s doctrines. They dared to respect the authority of scripture over the authority of their man-made religious denomination.

All of the churches I have belonged to over the years have agreed the Bible is the word of God and the final authority for guiding our lives. At least that is what they all said. So either none of these churches had any members living in unrepentant sin or all of the church leaders were either ignorant or sold out to compromise. It is hard to believe there were no sinners in any of these churches during a stretch of 30 years. The more credible conclusion is compromise is rampant in American churches.

Not only have I never heard of anyone getting kicked out for unrepentant sin, I don’t recall ever hearing a single teaching on this topic. Of course, if you aren’t willing to put it into practice then it would be better not to bring it up because somebody would surely ask “Why aren’t we doing this?” So this topic gets almost zero coverage.

Meanwhile, topics like giving tithes and offerings are presented at just about every meeting. I agree with giving tithes and offerings. I agree we need teaching on that. I just wonder why church leaders are making an institution out of some scriptures while sweeping others under the rug.

Churches have lost sight of the important things, obeying God and serving people. They have made it all about building up the church. This is the same thing that happens to politicians after they get elected. Instead of tending to the business of the people, their mission becomes all about holding onto and increasing their own power. Political leaders are notorious for tossing out common sense and replacing it with their own agenda, which is centered around self-preservation. It sure looks like church leaders are doing the same thing.

American churches even go so far as to hire marketing firms to help them develop marketing strategies for finding and recruiting new members. Their plans include details on what to do to get people to visit and what to do to keep them coming back. There are even firms that help ministries write their fund raising letters word for word, all designed to maximize the money coming into the church.

With so much effort going into building up the church, kicking people out seems counter-productive. Everyone knows more people in the church means more money. Kicking people out means kicking money out. Besides, just think of all the good things the church can do with that extra money!

Kicking out the sinners has another problem. If you kick out one person, there is a good chance his family and friends will get offended and leave too. It could get out of control. It could turn into a real mess, even a church split. It would be a whole lot easier to just let it slide. So there has been a whole lot of sliding going on. Churches sliding right into mediocrity and people sliding right into hell.

If the mission is to build up church membership and church bank accounts, then that is an acceptable consequence. But if the mission is to please God and obey the Bible, then we have a big problem here. If you want to go all out for God regardless of what it costs you, then commit yourself to obeying all of the scriptures, not just picking and choosing the ones you like. God will honor your obedience to his word. Once you’ve done that, ask God to help your whole church do the same.

If you really want to get rid of the compromise in your church, consider asking your pastor when was the last time anyone was kicked out for unrepentant sin. If you approach him in love and humility, not demanding your own way, you can do it in a way that blesses everyone. Pastors are human just like the rest of us. The Bible says we all see in part and know in part, including the pastor. In the same way that God uses pastors to help reveal important truths to the church body, He can also use the church body to help reveal important truths to the pastor. Pray for God’s leading and timing. Pray you have the right spirit. If you do that and if your Pastor is humble, he will gladly receive all the help he can get. If he is not ready to hear it, then you know how to pray for him.

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