Expelling An Unrepentant Sinner

Q. I thoroughly enjoy reading the various questions on your site. I have a rather controversial one. A local church in the area recently booted a member out of the church. This member, a Christian and member of this church for years was living in unrepentant sin, was not willing to change, and after numerous meetings and counseling from the pastors they decided to boot this person out. Is that Biblical and should that still be practiced today? It seems harsh of this church.

A. There is a Biblical precedent for this in 1 Cor. 5. We’re not supposed to tolerate sinful behavior in the Church. But as with all things where the Lord is concerned, the goal is always reconciliation. Therefore it should be made clear that it’s only behavior that’s not being tolerated. The person being excluded needs to understand that as soon as the behavioral problem is rectified he or she will be welcomed back as if nothing ever happened. This was the case in Corinth, where Paul said the discipline had accomplished its intended purpose and it was time to forgive the sinner and re-admit him into the fellowship (2 Cor. 2:5-11).

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