I. withdraw: To remove oneself from a place or position. To go away, depart, or retire from.
II. Believers have a duty to separate from the ungodly and cleave to what is true and right.
A. There is a moral/personal aspect to this. 1PE 4:3-4.
B. There is a doctrinal/ecclesial aspect to this.
ROM 16:17; 2TH 3:6, 14-15; 1TI 6:3-5; 2TI 3:5.
1. Churches are under judgment for retaining known sin and error.
REV 2:20-23; 1CO 5:1-2.
2. This ordered separation pertains not to the world at large. 1CO 5:9-11.
C. Separation and withdrawal from the disobedient does not dissolve godly obligations.
1CO 7:12; 1TI 5:8.
D. Those who resist or gainsay the truth are to be counted among the ungodly.
2TI 3:8; ACT 13:45-46.
E. One of the duties of a faithful minister is to separate disciples of the truth from a false system. ACT 19:9.
III. The gospel calls God's people from diverse errors to conformity to Christ, Who is the truth.
2CO 10:3-5; JOH 14:6.
A. There are not diverse opposing truths in Christ. God is of one mind. JOB 23:13.
1. The doctrine of God is always expressed in the singular (1TI 6:1; TIT 2:10; 2JO 1:9) but there are doctrineS of devils. 1TI 4:1.
2. There is one faith. EPH 4:5.
3. Saints are to strive for unity in that one faith. EPH 4:13; PHIL 1:27.
B. What is a believer to do if he sees light of truth that his church refuses to recognize and
he knows that light cannot have communion with darkness? 2CO 6:14.
1. At the very least, this is a conscience issue and we are to hold a good conscience.
2. There are two ways to a good conscience in such circumstances: purifying the entire church of its error(s), or withdrawing from that church.
3. Known heresy is to be admonished twice, then rejected. TIT 3:10-11.
a. A faithful church may need to withdraw from a known, impenitent heretic.
b. Faithful individuals in a church that is promoting heresy may have to
withdraw from that church. Paul’s order was to “...withdraw yourselves from EVERY brother that walketh disorderly...” (2TH 3:6), which could mean an entire church.
c. NOTE: Differences of opinion in areas of Christian liberty is not heresy but doctrine which opposes the truth of Scripture is heresy.
IV. There is no middle ground, neutrality or fence-sitting when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person either enlists fully with Christ or opposes Him. MAT 12:30.
A. It is folly for a child of God against better knowledge to wilfully align with a church where
heresy is knowingly promoted or deliberately overlooked. LUK 12:47; JAM 4:17.
1. Mercy is reserved for ignorant unbelief, not wilful unbelief. 1TI 1:13.
2. To maintain fellowship with informed unbelievers is to be partaker with them in
that unbelief and in their judgment. EXO 23:2; 1TI 5:22; REV 18:4.
B. Preferred or prolonged fellowship with unbelievers has a corrupting effect.
1CO 15:33; PRO 19:27.
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C. Subordinating truth to personal interest invites judgment. 2TH 2:11-12.
D. Over against being yoked together with unbelievers, God says, “Be ye NOT unequally
yoked together with unbelievers...” (2CO 6:14).
1. God promises to receive the obedient who separate from unbelievers.
2. Fellowship with God goes with those walking in the light, not darkness (1JO 1:7).
God will not withdraw from a believer who is taking a stand for the truth.
V. Christians are to walk in the steps of Abraham’s faith. ROM 4:12; GAL 3:7.
A. When God called Abram to end his affiliation with Ur of the Chaldees, he promptly left.
B. Abraham wasn't sure where he was going to end up but he knew where he wasn't staying (HEB 11:8). The first step is separation FROM error.
1. The “how and where” of God's future leading need not deter one's present
2. If His sheep obey the truth they now know, they may trust the Good Shepherd to
take care of the rest. PRO 4:18; PSA 23:1-3; PRO 3:5-6.
C. God called Abraham ALONE. ISA 51:2.
1. If others follow also, praise God! But one should be thankful that he was called and should answer accordingly.
2. One should always concern himself with what God requires of him, not what has or has not been required of others. JOH 21:21-22.
VI. The following is a Biblical course of action for a believer under conviction of the truth.
A. If a believer is in a false church or system, leave it. REV 18:4; PSA 84:10.
B. If a believer is in a true church of Jesus Christ, proceed in the fear of God. Withdrawal
from a true church is not something to be taken lightly. JUDE 1:18-19.
C. Inform and reform (if possible). Perhaps God will work a reformation of an entire church.
Mind that it is seldom that an erring church has only one error. GAL 5:9.
1. Respectfully reason with church leadership. 1TI 5:1.
2. If the response is humility and willingness to convert to the truth and teach it to the
church, bear with them to see if change is implemented.
3. If the initial response is indifference to or rejection of the truth, give it some time
to overcome long-held tradition. LUK 5:39.
4. If positive change is perpetually avoided, admonish a second time (TIT 3:10-11)
and if no change follows, reject the church/system and withdraw. Remember the
importance of a clear conscience.
5. There may well be a need to take a public stand or even shake the dust off your
shoes to a recalcitrant system. JOS 24:15; MAT 10:14.
D. The principled believer may have to walk alone for a season (LUK 4:25-26;
JER 15:16-17) but if the heart is pure and seeking God, God will provide. HEB 11:6.
E. Pray for wisdom and guidance towards a faithful church. PSA 107:5-7.
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