This past week, I had to break fellowship with two Facebook friends that happen to be sisters in Christ. Due to questions and concerns some had regarding this matter, and after much prayer and consulting with my husband, I will share how and why this happened hoping others may be edified and blessed through our trial.
Breaking fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is something that is quite disheartening to me and something I don't take lightly, nor do often. As a matter of fact, I've only done it one time prior to this and I am grateful to God for it. I do not break fellowship with fellow saints because they quote Ghandi, don't agree with me on every theological point, or for any other reason except for those God has clearly laid out in His word.
"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler -- not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. 'Purge the evil person from among you.' "~1 Corinthians 5:11-13
"Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us... If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother."~ 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15
"As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."~Titus 3:10
And what are some things that cause division amongst God's people?
"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which will produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain."~1 Timothy 6:3-5
"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations -- 'Do not handle. Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things that perish as they are used) -- according to human precepts and teachings? These indeed have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."~Colossians 2:20-23
"One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes a day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God... For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."~Romans 14:5-6, 23b
Both sisters with whom I broke fellowship were causing much strife, quarreling and division amongst God's people by what they were falsely promoting and teaching.
The one was teaching that any Christian who celebrates birthdays, Christmas, Easter and other occasions were guilty of sinning against God. She believed that all such celebrations were of pagan origin or pagans participate in them, therefore it is a sin for Christians to participate in such things. She then continued to not only promote this false teaching, but began to openly condemn and encourage others to condemn any Christian who participated in any of the activities she personally believed were sinful. I came alongside her and with great love and gentleness, shared God's word with her, as did a few other brothers and sisters in Christ. She not only refused to listen, but she questioned my salvation, then judged our hearts by stating that we had selfish, ulterior motives for speaking against her false teaching and celebrating the occasions in which she condemned. In all this, she received much glory and praise from her followers for "denying herself". Never was there any glory given to God; which is exactly what is written in Scripture (Col 2:20-23).
She was lovingly warned that she was taking focus off the Gospel, off of Christ and anything in His sound and righteous teaching as well as leading many astray from sound doctrine and enslaving them to the legalism of the exterior, falsely pious religion of the Pharisees in which our Lord Jesus freed us from. After her she continued be unrepentant, I broke fellowship with her.
The second sister quoted Ghandi on one of her statuses which was of no concern to me until another sister praised her for doing such a thing and then stated that she loves to quote a Catholic priest and that we Christians can learn from anybody because God has written his truth on every man's heart. Seeing where this was going, I kindly shared with our sister that the quote from Ghandi was very man-centered, Ghandi was a Hindu and opposed God, that this may inadvertently lead less mature Christians astray from sound doctrine, therefore perhaps she'd like to use what Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 which was more God-focused and near the point I believe she was trying to make.
In response she chose to take God's word out of context to prove her original point stating that Ghandi was a good man, probably used by others to oppose God, Ghandi had many good things to teach us, Christians should be more "open" and understand that God speaks His truth through anyone and anything; after all, the Lord did used Balaam's donkey to speak "truth". In response, I shared the Scriptures that clearly stated only God is good (Mark 10:18) and only God is truth; therefore only God's children can understand and speak spiritual truths because we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who teaches us (1 Cor 2:10-13). It is impossible for unbelievers who still live in darkness to impart any godly wisdom upon God's children who have been transferred into the kingdom of light by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 2:14, Colossians 1:13-14).
After she insisted on defending Ghandi and his teachings, she included all unbelievers to be wise and have good things to teach Christians. Her followers began to rally in support of her false teaching. Here's a sampling of the comments that ensued:
- It is faulty logic to say that because Ghandi was unsaved that he was entirely evil;
- Truth is truth no matter where it comes from;
- Truth isn't only from the Bible, God can and does use other sources, even unbelievers;
- It is an error to "put God in a box" and say that He won't use unbelievers to speak and teach spiritual truths to God's children;
- King Solomon was a horrible sinner and an obvious unbeliever, yet God used him to write Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible.
All of this was to no avail. Both my husband I spoke these truths to this sister, begging her to repent and begging her to read, meditate and pray over the Scriptures we shared with her so that God may grant her repentance so that she might escape from the snare the devil has her in to do his will (2 Tim 2:24-26). I clearly and lovingly pleaded with her to turn from her heretical teaching that was not only leading other Christians astray, but also causing strife within the Body (as her followers began to accuse me of name calling [because I stated we are all entirely evil without God] and other such nonsense).
To ensure none of my Facebook friends believed such nonsense, I posted many of the Scriptures I shared with this sister and her followers, along with Scriptures warning us not to listen to false teachers. I also posted on my wall that if these sisters did not repent, I would have to break fellowship (de-friend) them. Right after I posted this, this second sister began "liking" all of my posts as well as commented on one of them as if nothing had transpired between us. Because of my great love for God and for my dear sister, I wrote another post defining what true repentance is: being convinced of a sin, confessing to God and anyone affected by it and asking for forgiveness with a complete turning away from that sin. She continued to "like" my posts. As a last attempt, I then posted that just agreeing with my rebuke to her wasn't true repentance. She didn't respond.
After exhausting all my resources to try to remain in fellowship with her, due to her continued pride and unrepentant heart, I had to de-friend her because my love and devotion to Christ is superior to my love for anyone or anything else.
I was very open and clear about this action prior to doing this and gave both sisters ample opportunity to repent, but neither did. After I de-friended the second sister, she and one of her friends continued to badger me by sending me private messages continuing their heretical stance and accusing me of many sins.
As you can see, this has been nothing close to being enjoyable for me and has exhausted me both spiritually and physically as I spent many sleepless nights praying for all of them, meditating on and pouring over Scriptures and asking God to have mercy on them. Breaking fellowship with another believer is a very serious thing. The Lord commands us to keep the peace amongst the saints -- as much as it is up to us (Romans 12:18). And I did as much as it was up to me. But I cannot force anyone to repent. We each have a personal relationship with Christ. All we can do is pray for God's guidance through His word, pray for others, and speak as the Lord directs by His word and leave the results up to Him.
"No one sets out to become an apostate -- it's never the result of one abrupt, drastic turn away from the Lord. Instead, apostasy is most often the product of a pattern of sinful compromises that harden and gradually steer a professing believer away from the truth."
This statement is true and it's so prevalent in American Christianity. Here in America we've become complacent, lazy, comfortable Christians who are more fearful of losing friends, congregation members, ministries, and other self-focused desires that rarely do you hear of church discipline being appropriated in accordance with God's word or for those who don't attend the same church, breaking fellowship with professing believers who wander from the truth, teach others the same, cause division within the Body and refuse to repent once they are confronted with their sin (2 Tim 3:16, Gal 6:1).
Our complacency only proves a lack of love for others, but more importantly our luke-warm love towards God for His gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. We don't want to get personal, we don't want to notice what others are doing as long as it doesn't directly affect or disrupt our lives. Therefore, church discipline and breaking fellowship with other believers in accordance with God's word is nearly lost in American churches.
We will fight for so many things. For our families, for our honor, for our country's honor, for our reputations or that of those we love and admire. We'll even fight for a "good deal" on eBay, but rarely will we love one another enough to fight our enemy, the devil, to keep one of our own from falling away from what they first believed when they came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
"By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."~John 13:35
I have great love for my Savior who left Heaven, made Himself nothing, suffered and died so I could be cleansed of my sins and have His righteousness credited to me. Because of my love for God, I have great love for all of you, my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. And until the day Jesus returns or calls me Home, I will love you enough to fight for you -- no matter the cost to me. I will fight our enemy with everything God gives me to keep you from anything that tempts you to fall away...even if you hate me for it and accuse me of all sorts of evil. I will still love you, and act in the love God gave me for you. I will bend down and wash your feet when I can clearly see they are dirty (John 13:14-15).