Question:

Thank you for your thoughts. See, I have been taught differently and have always been suspicious about what I had been taught. I will give you an example: If, let's say a member of the church has intercourse outside of marriage, they need to come and tell the elders of the congregation. The elders then tell the whole church that the brother is kicked out of church, even if he has repented and asked for forgiveness already from God. Even if you fornicated six months ago and have since repented and have been living for God until now, you still need to be kicked out for what happened six months ago because you did not confessed it. That's what I have been taught. I see it differently. I believe that it is only for those who practice or live in sin and don't want to give sin up. Thank you, though, for your insight

Answer:

Among true Christians, it doesn't matter what you or I want to believe. What matters is what God teaches.

The primary purpose of withdrawal is the salvation of the person who is in sin.

"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (I Corinthians 5:4-5).

"This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme" (I Timothy 1:20).

It is not a tool to punish people who have sinned in the past and have left their sins behind. Jesus gives this instruction for handling sins which are between two brethren:

"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17).

Notice that additional people are brought into the matter only if the sinner refuses to repent. If a sinner does repent, then nothing further is needed because the goal of saving the person from his sins has been gained.

When the Corinthian church withdrew from the man committing fornication, it accomplished its purpose -- the man repented of his sins. Sadly the Corinthians went overboard and refused to accept the man back into their number. So in Paul's second letter to them, he scolds them once again:

"For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent--not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him" (II Corinthians 2:4-8).

Like the early Corinthians, the church you are currently attending is not practicing forgiveness. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). Withdrawal is a form of rebuke. It is the furthest a congregation can go to say someone is sinning and the congregation will not tolerate the sin. But when a person has left their sin, then the goal of saving a person from sin has been accomplished.

When a person sins, the primary need is to confess to God what we did wrong. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Sometimes a person feels that he has done so much wrong that he isn't worthy of approaching God. Or, he might feel the need to have brethren help him as he struggles to get control over his life again. James tells us, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16).

There is no requirement that a repentant sinner must have his sins announced before the church. The only time the church must get involved is when a person refuses to repent of his sins. There are times when a person may want the prayers of all his brethren. There are times when a person may have sinned such that he has harmed all his brethren and he wants to let them know that he is sorry and that he has changed. Many congregations make opportunities available for such needs to be handled. But it is false to say it is required.

The sin you committed was between you and your girlfriend. You repented of that sin, you went to God to ask for forgiveness. I assume that both you and your girlfriend apologized to each other for allowing each other to use the other for sin. You've also put into place rules for yourselves to prevent a repeat of these sins. You also decided to talk to a few others, such as myself, about what happened, about what you needed to do for forgiveness, and about what you plan to do to prevent future sin. All of this matches God's teachings. Nothing more than staying out of sin is necessary.

Since your church is not teaching the truth in this matter, it makes me wonder what other untruths are being taught. Perhaps it is time to find a congregation that follows the Bible more accurately. If you need help locating such a congregation, let me know.