Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | October 31, 2014

“So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” – “For this purpose, ex-communication or church discipline is requisite”

Today’s devotion comes from Deuteronomy 17:1-7.

“1 “You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God.

2 “If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing His covenant, 3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, 4 and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly.  Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death.  6 On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death;  he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”  Deuteronomy 17:1-7.

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Again, as was made crystal clear in a prior devotion, no Christian maintains that Christians should put to death people who worship other gods.  “You shall not murder.”  Exodus 20:13.

Rather, today’s Scripture points us to Christian discipline.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;  I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.  But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Do you not judge those who are within the church?  But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”  1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

And, church discipline does not only extend to those who practice immoral behavior within the church.  Church discipline also extends to those practice heresy within the church.

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;  which is really not another;  only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!    As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”  Galatians 1:6-9.

In summary, we purge evil from our midst by ex-communication (removing a member from membership and attendance in church) according to proper church discipline procedures done by the leaders of the church (minister, elders, and deacons).

Article 32:  Of the Order and Discipline of the Church. 

“…  Therefore we admit only of that which tends to nourish and preserve concord, and unity, and to keep all men in obedience to God. For this purpose, ex-communication or church discipline is requisite, with the several circumstances belonging to it, according to the Word of God.”  Belgic Confession. 


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