Approximately eight years after Daniel was deported from his homeland, a second wave of Jewish exiles was transported to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiachin in 597 B.C. Among this latter group of captives was the fiery prophet Ezekiel. In 592 B.C., on the banks of the Chebar River, Ezekiel was called by God to speak inspired words to the Israelite captives. Ezekiel’s divine message was typical of the Hebrew prophets: “Repent!” On one occasion, the prophet posed a particularly intriguing aim of this penitence: “so iniquity shall not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30).
We sorely need to recognize the significance of this insight in our own day. There was a fellow in the church of Christ at Corinth who was exhibiting unfaithful behavior. The membership took the back-slapping, tolerant approach to the situation. They took the “broadminded” approach. That’s where you figure you should “bear with” impenitent persons. You feel you should give them time—perhaps more teaching— more encouragement. Then you get to thinking that such is the “loving, spiritual” course of action. The members at Corinth were being “big” about the situation, no doubt thinking their tolerance was the “mature” thing to do. This attitude was evident from the fact that Paul described them as “puffed up” (I Corinthians 5:2). In other words, they were proud, they should have been filled with grief! The word for “mourned” is the word used for the sorrow that occurs when a loved one dies. Paul was saying they should have been mourning for this brother because in God’s sight, he was dead! Rather than seeking to woo the fornicator out of his lost condition by tolerating it or overlooking it, they should have already formally and publicly handed him over to Satan (I Corinthians 5:5)! They should have already “purged” him from the church (I Corinthians 5:7)! They should have passed “judgment” upon him and “expelled” him (I Corinthians 5:12-13)!
How odd—how strange such instructions sound in contrast to the general mood prevailing among churches of Christ today! Groups accept the impenitent with open arms without batting an eye, or at most after only a mild bout with conscience. If only Ezekiel’s words could penetrate our proud hearts—so that sin will not be our ruin.
Dave Miller (Spiritual Sword, July 1985)
The above article was written in 1985 by the now impenitent Dave Miller. The article accurately described what has happened in the brotherhood toward Dave Miller who remains impenitent since 2005. He publicly espoused, endorsed, and taught the false doctrine of reaffirmation/re-evaluation of elders as well as the error of marriage “intent.” While called upon by some to repent, he has refused and has chosen rather to foist upon the brotherhood an explanation of what he had done and called it repentance. Large, influential groups have accepted this impenitent one “with open arms without batting an eye, or at most after only a mild bout with conscience.” Many have no doubt thought that their tolerance of Dave Miller was the “big” thing to do, the “mature” thing to do; some have thought it to the only thing to do because of their fear of losing their financial support. These brethren pride themselves on being “loving” and “spiritual” when in actuality they are unconcerned about the lost condition of this false teacher and those being influenced by him. Rather than being proud of their tolerance they, as Paul said to the Corinthians, should be filled with grief because he is lost because of his refusal to repent. In God’s sight, he is dead! “Rather than seeking to woo the fornicator [false teacher in this case, lk] out of his lost condition by tolerating it or overlooking it, they should have already formally and publicly handed him over to Satan (I Corinthians 5:5)! They should have already “purged” him from the church (I Corinthians 5:7)! They should have passed “judgment” upon him and “expelled” him (I Corinthians 5:12-13)!” That IS the loving, spiritual thing to do.
These brethren who tolerate him in his sin know that they need to repent of their tolerance of sin “so iniquity shall not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30). What Ezekiel wrote is true, and what Dave Miller wrote in 1985 in the above article is still true. Dave Miller understood it then, but fails to understand it now! The lesson of the above article needs to be recognized and put into practice without respect of persons. We should all be mourning with “sorrow that occurs when a loved one dies” because of this sin and its toleration that is so prevalent.