Associate With

by Mike Ratliff

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 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 5:9-13 ESV)

In yesterday’s post, Koinōnia, we saw what true Biblical “fellowship” is and what it isn’t. Paul made in clear in the passage 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 that Christians are not to be partnered or partakers in any way with what is opposed to Christianity. I didn’t mention it in that post, but that would include those who profess to be Christians, but who teach “doctrines” that are not Christian. We are called by God from His Word to be separate from them. In the passage above (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) there is another word that I would like for us to examine a bit more closely that the ESV translates as “associate with” in both v9 and v11. 

Here are vv9-11 from the ESV, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 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.

The words “associate with” translate a single Greek word, συναναμιγνυσθαι the present tense, infinitive mood, middle voice form of συναναμίγνυμι or sunanamignumi. This is a compound from the root αναμίγνυμι or anamignumim, which means “to mix together,” and συν or sun, which means “together.” Putting these two together intensifies the root and gives us the graphic picture of blending things together thoroughly.

The Christian is not to intermingle or to have a close relationship with those who practice serious, unrepentant sin. The passage I quoted at the top of this post deals explicitly with church discipline. If a professing Christian persists in such sin, he or she is to be put of the church, and other Christians are to have nothing to do with him or her. Why? Because sin “rubs off.” It is a communicable disease. Now, think of heresy. If false doctrine is not dealt with properly in the Church by the leadership what happens? Those teaching it are allowed to stay and corrupt others. Apostasy become rampant and a Laodicean church environment is under way, which is exactly what we have in our time.

Let us examine our own lives and walks my brethren. As Paul said, who are we to judge outsiders, but we are most definitely to obey God’s Word in using the discernment He gave us to be Bereans to check out what men teach and preach according to what God’s Word says. If it does not line up then we must exercise church discipline. Since that has not happened, we have rampant apostasy in our time.

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “Associate With

  1. Hi Mike,

    Amen. I guess some people don’t really wish take this scripture very seriously, for whatever reason, not wishing to lose a friendship, make a scene, confront someone as that is uncomfortable, lose supporters or financial contributors, etc. People may refuse to think that sin can rub off on them, as you put it, or that they can be affected by it to their detriment. I suppose our proud hearts refuse to believe we can be drawn into it. The word does warn us that pride goes before a fall and that we need to be very careful lest we stumble as well…being wise in our own eyes.

    Like in 1Cor 15:33 –bad company corrupts good morals–they were getting wrong ideas of the resurrection from somewhere–and were believing them evidently. And in my old church, with the allowance of IHOP to remain unchallenged, now they are holding prayer walking classes in order to pray the city into Christianity. Keeps getting worse.

  2. Dear Mike,

    God Bless you on this Reformation Sunday!

    Thank you for your ministry of sharing Biblical wisdom and discernment. You have taken seriously the call of Jesus to feed His sheep. He is using you to provide Biblical guidance vs. the man centered “let me tell you what you want to hear”.

    Truly it is a blessing to associate with someone who fears the Lord and clings to His word.

    May God bless us with a reformation back to His Word!

  3. I completely agree with your post. However I wonder why we never address idolatry with the same vigor we do about sexual impurity and doctrinal heresies. I am convinced that nationalism is idolatry and would never be practiced by believers in by gone years. Paul only leveraged his Roman citizenship so as to go to Rome to preach the gospel.

    The early Christians, including those who lived in Rome, were persecuted in large part because they would not give allegiance to Rome. In the vrese you reference, Mike, is a mention of greed. Again, not to judge or be self righteous, but so many American believers save up money for themselves in direct violation of:

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
    But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal

    Those words are either literal or they are not. And yet many believers will vigourously defend the 24 hour creation day but explain those verses as guidlines and not literal. My point is that we often do not go far enough when we read a good post like yours and we stop short of examining areas where we might be in non-compliance.

  4. Totally agree with you Rick. This may sound a bit “heretical” to some, but I am convinced that some believers have made an idol of “Christian values.” If we look at those values there is nothing wrong with them, but if we proudly claim we are “keeping them” aren’t we really guilty of legalism?

  5. “Again, not to judge or be self righteous, but so many American believers save up money for themselves in direct violation of:

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
    But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”
    Not to cause a controversy, but one church we belonged to, an “Independant Baptist” church, got aligned with another church, and the two churches started promoting the idea that in order for Christianity to gain power in the society, we should all pool our money into an account at a local bank, that the Pastor would control, and thus gain prestige (since worldly people worship money).
    If we “needed’ money for some reason, we could appeal to the Pastor, and if he agreed that our need was worthy, he would write us a check against our own funds, and let us have our money! We never opted into the program, and were thus not involved with it.
    Because of this legalism, I’m a bit concerned about the concept of one Christian sitting in Judgement over another Christian’s saving or spending habits.
    I’m sure Mr. Frueh has access to a place to live, transportation, food, Social Security, clothes, etc., all of which takes money.
    Perhaps he is referring here to the Vatican Billions which could be used to feed and house the poor, or to churches which build multi-million dollar edifices which they can’t pay for, or support.

  6. The command to not lay up treasures upon earth… but do so in Heaven is talking about where our hearts are. Where are we placing our hope. Is our hope in money or is it in the Perfect Work of Christ on the Cross on our Behalf and are we, because of that, serving Him with our all?

  7. Community , the Church discipline killer. The problem I observe today is that there is little value put on church membership and thus accountability. Moving from the Bible terminolgy of church body and church family to the term (ugh) community, takes away the intimacy and accountability you have in a family. You don’t know what goes on in your community of different households, but you do about your own family. It is amazing how this subtle change in terminolgy has so much influence in the church today. Anyone can be a part of the community just by moving in. You have to be born (again) into the family.

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