A CAUTION ABOUT FELLOWSHIP
1 Tim. 5:22
Verse 22 says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." and our rule of faith and practice. Paul says,
There seems to be an attitude that exists today that if you are a Christian you must accept anyone who says he is a Christian at face value. If you do not, you are called a judge. If you refuse to fellowship, there are those who look at you with contempt and accuse you of being "better than thou."
Of course this term does apply to some and I personally despise the attitude described by this phrase. I believe God does. No Christian has the right to feel he is better than another Christian. We are what we are by the grace of God. Any righteousness we have is the imputed righteousness of Christ and every Christian has this. But is there a right stand on separation that can be taken by a Christian? I believe there is. I'm just going to deal with one verse in this meditation. It was a verse given by Paul to Timothy. It is first to the preacher (Timothy) then to all (all he preaches to) who will ever hear him. This includes all of us who hold the book of first Timothy to be the inspired Word of God
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU ENDORSE
This is what Paul means when he says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man . . ." The word "lay" translates "epitithemi" and means, "in the active voice it means that the subject puts or lays upon." It is a present active imperative verb. The present tense means that this is an exhortation for the present. It is an imminent danger against which Paul is exhorting Timothy. The imperative mood constitutes a command that expresses urgency. Most preachers will know the truth I am about to state. It is a lot easier to put your hand on a person than it is to take it off. Paul is teaching Timothy how to behave as a Christian and minister of the gospel, and he is ultimately teaching this truth to everyone to whom Timothy teaches.
The word "hands" translates "cheir" and means, "by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one, figuratively applied to God symbolizing his might, activity, power." So Paul is saying to Timothy, "Don't endorse or lend your power to, don't engage yourself with." The word "suddenly" translates "tacheos" and means "quickly, shortly." The idea is acting without knowledge of the person, i.e., acting in haste. The words "no one" translates "medeis" and means, "nobody, no one, nothing."
THIS MEANS NO ONE WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
Is it wrong to insist on observing a person for a while before you endorse him? It is not only right to insist on observing him, it is violating this verse when one doesn't.
I'll give you an illustration of this principle from the Bible. Galatians 3:1-5 says, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith."
The churches of Galatia were invaded by a group of Jewish heretics who were traveling among their churches teaching a mixture of works and grace for salvation. What they said to begin with seemed to sound ok. There is always enough truth mixed with error to make it attractive. It was another gospel they preached (Gal. 1:6) which was not another (Gal. 1:7). It was another gospel in that what they preached effectively neutralized the saving power of the gospel. It was not another in that it included the true gospel but added to it. These guys were good enough in their presentation that they exercised the power of first appeal and bowled-over the believers in those churches who were not solid in their definition of the gospel of Christ. They sounded too good to be wrong. So, many of the Christians in those churches fell for the LIE and were led astray. Note the words in Galatians 1:6, "I marvel that ye are SO SOON REMOVED from him that called you . . ." (Caps mine for emphasis). Note in Galatians 3:1, "O FOOLISH Galatians, who hath bewitched you . . ." Let's face it. They had been taken. Why? Because they did not obey the truth, "Lay hands suddenly on no man."
It is not wrong to observe one for a while before you give your endorsement. Here is a man who has had a dramatic conversion. He has a lot to offer educationally. He has a lot to offer because of success in business. He has a lot to offer the church financially. So, when he joins the church, he is chosen immediately to serve on the committees, etc. Now I don't want to hurt your feelings but he is about as qualified according to this verse as a dirt dauber is to work as a diesel mechanic! One does not bring his abilities and talents into God's family and advance God's kingdom by the use of them. The Lord is building His church and He uses people that He divinely enables to do certain tasks. If we are to use the world's system to advance the Church, I have been wrong for 54 years. We need to look a person over before we put our hands on him. If his profession does not prove to be true, we are not hurt thereby. If he is unwilling to submit to the same authority under the Lordship of Christ as every other Christian, it will come out with just a little time. There is a difference in looking with suspicion and observing how one conducts himself under the Lordship of Christ.
When someone in your church starts disagreeing with the leadership, be very careful about identifying with him. Sometimes the one who leads this group has a history that you need to find out about. How many churches has he been a member of? Does he have the endorsement of his former pastors? The movement he starts, if you join, and God does not approve, you will suffer the same judgment of God that the leader does. You are responsible and will suffer the consequences.
YOU CAN'T BE INVOLVED WITH SINNERS WITHOUT SINNING
Paul says, "Neither be partakers of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." The word "neither" translates "mede" and means, "and not." This word attaches the words that follow to the meaning of the phrase to "Lay hands suddenly on no man." When you do, you are liable to find him to be something other than what he professed to be, and when you look at your hands you will discover IT CAME OFF ON YOU.
The word "partaker" translates "koinoneo" and means, "to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner, to enter into fellowship, join one's self to an associate, make one's self a sharer or partner." It is a present active imperative verb.
This word is used by Jesus in Matthew 23:30: "And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers (same word) with them in the blood of the prophets." It means, "We would not have participated with, and therefore guilty with them in the shedding of the blood of the prophets." (My paraphrase). Even these Pharisees recognized the possibility of sinning by association.
The imperative mood is not only a command with apostolic authority, but more than that, it is expressing urgency that Timothy not be stained with the sins of others. If he were to do so, it would damage his ministry and affect the sphere of his influence. I must be careful to say that Paul does not use apostolic authority as a domineering father over a cowering and ministerial son. A young preacher needs to respect his elders and listen. But having done that, he should allow no man to stand between him and the Lordship of Christ. I am afraid there are many who bow toward
denominational headquarters. And it makes them NO SMALL DIFFERENCE what the PILLARS OF THE DENOMINATION THINK.
Then he says, "of other men's sins." The words "of other men's" translate "allotrios" and means, "belonging to another, foreign, strange, not of one's own family, alien." He is saying, "what they are doing belongs to them (their sins) it is not yours, it is foreign to you, but not to them, it is strange to you, but not to them, it is alien to you but not to them." Therefore, do not allow what they do in violation to the will of God be attributed to you because of association. And the way to avoid this, is to move slowly in your involvement with others until you have time to make sure they are not just "talking the talk" but also, "walking the walk." The word "sins" is the normal word that is used for sins and means that Paul is saying some who profess to be saved want the help of the godly minister to use his influence to conduct a ministry when they are not right with God themselves.
Then Paul says, "Keep thyself pure." The word "keep" translates "to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard." It is a present active imperative verb. The active voice means that Timothy must decide. Paul has given him the truth. But he must ultimately decide to initiate this action of "Laying hands suddenly on no man." It is absolutely imperative that the man of God remain pure. If there is anything that disgusts me it is to see one who professes to be a God-called preacher who does not know the difference between godly living and worldliness. The word "pure" translates "exciting reverence, venerable, sacred, pure, pure from carnality, chaste, modest." There ought to be something holy and sacred about the man of God. When members a church call their preacher by his first name, two thoughts enter my mind. First, does he (the preacher) and his life style invite this? Second, does the church member know how to respect a man on whom God has His hand to preach the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ? I wonder what kind of respect Elijah was shown by the people? After three and a half years without rain, and the episode on Mount Carmel, I'd think they would say, "Bro. Elijah!" Have you ever read of the youth who made fun of Elisha because he was bald headed and what happened to them? I'll let you look it up.
You say, "I call my preacher by his first name and I respect him." Why don't you start putting Brother before the first name. It will show more respect for his office and calling.
We do need to be cautious about our fellowship. We can be stained by the sins of others. What happens when we violate the truth of this verse? Go to 1 John 1:9 and treat it like any other sin. Confess it, get forgiveness, and learn from the mistake, and don't do it again. Thank God for the grace of forgiveness. We can't be more right with God than the blood of Jesus makes us.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.