Discipline Within the Fellowship

MEMORY SELECTION: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” —I Corinthians 1:10

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 5:9 – 6:8

THE apostle was exhorting the Lord’s people to mature in the spirit of oneness and harmony and to join together in the bonds of Christian love and fellowship. Wherever the Spirit of God is manifest, problems and divisions among brethren are less likely. In this connection we are reminded of one of the favorite hymns that we enjoy (Hymn 23, “Christian Fellowship”). Its first stanza begins, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” This is the desire of heart and mind that all of the Lord’s people should strive to attain. That blessed tie is an unspoken bond of love, which, if pursued, will give the Christian a glimpse of the Spirit of love that prevails between the Heavenly Father and our risen Lord.

In the selected scriptural reading, Paul draws the attention of the Corinthian church to difficulties that may arise among brethren. “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” (I Cor. 5:9,10) His point was that it is not our business to judge the unsanctified but that it is an entirely different matter to recognize such as fellow members of the new creation. Those at Corinth were risking a general demoralization among their members because of a mistaken sense of charity toward those who were immoral. Paul also feared that the spirit of leniency might spread to other churches.

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” (vs. 11) The apostle’s instructions leave little room for doubt as to the seriousness of the matter, even to the point of complete separation from the offender. Paul was urging the brethren at Corinth to beware of some of those whom they had accepted as fellow members of the body of Christ. He says (vss. 12,13): “For what have Ito do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Continuing his admonition, Paul next criticizes the manner in which certain disputes that had arisen between brethren were brought before a worldly court of law for justice. The Lord’s people should be of the disposition of heart which would endure the wrong patiently or, if the dispute be of a more serious nature, would take the matter before the church. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?”—I Cor. 6:1

Paul explained that God was selecting the members of the church for positions as judges in the millennial kingdom of Christ. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” (vss. 2-4) Surely, if the church members are to be future judges, their decisions should at least be as fair and honorable as the world’s during the present age of sin and selfishness.

“I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.” (vss. 5-8) Paul spoke of conduct becoming those who had taken the name of Christ—to suffer injustice, if need be, rather than to quarrel and bring public charges that would bring disgrace to the church. Let us heed these instructions.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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