Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part II: Knowing And Heeding The Limits Of God's Fellowship
(2 John 7-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 et al.)
  1. Introduction
    1. Contrary to what is taught in some Christian circles, 2 John 1-6 exposes is a false spiritual "fellowship" that arises from disobedience to God's Word, a fellowship opposite true fellowship found in heeding God.
    2. However, there are degrees of obedience (or disobedience) to God's Word, and that affects where we are to draw lines of true fellowship in PRACTICE, and just how we are to do so!
    3. Specifically, we need to know where and how to draw the line of true fellowship with God and His godly people, and 2 John 7-13 with 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 et al. informs us on the matter as follows:
  2. Knowing And Heeding The Limits Of God's Fellowship, 2 John 7-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 et al.
    1. 2 John 7-13 commands us to draw a line of first degree separation from apostate unbelievers if we are to fellowship in the truth with God and God's godly ones:
      1. The Apostle John informed his Christian readers that many deceivers had gone out into the world who did not confess as their belief that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, 2 John 7a. These were antichrists, men who deceive other believers into thinking they might be believers when they were undermining faith in Christ's incarnation, 2 John 7b. (cf. also 1 John 4:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:3; cf. also Rom. 16:17-18)
      2. Concerned that believers guard themselves from drifting away from a firm belief in Christ's Person by the deception of these apostates, a drift that would cause them a partial loss of God's reward for true doctrine (2 John 8), John revealed these deceivers were not actual believers, but apostates, 2 John 9.
      3. Thus, were any of these apostates who denied Christ's incarnation to approach the believer, he was not to let them in the building or encourage them lest he thereby participate in their evil deeds, 2 John 10.
    2. Then, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 et al. informs us to draw a line of second degree separation from certain faulty believers if we are to fellowship in the truth with God and God's godly ones:
      1. Opposite first degree separation from apostates, godly believers must withdraw themselves from close proximity with other true believers in second degree separation whose lives are so disobedient to God that their sinfulness can influence fellow believers readily to sin, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, 14-15.
      2. Specific sins demanding such second degree separation are listed in the New Testament, and two major levels of second degree separation exist within this category as follows:
        1. At the GREATER level of second degree separation, we must EXCOMMUNICATE from the local church until one repents those believers who (a) hold to an errant Gospel of salvation, Gal. 1:8-9 with Galatians 5:2 and 3:3; (b) from those believers who commit immorality, covetousness, idolatry, slander, substance abuse and extortion, 1 Corinthians 5:10-13 and (c) from those believers who create harmful, unscriptural divisions in the local church body, Titus 3:10-11.
        2. On a LESSER level of second degree separation, we must personally SHRINK BACK from believers for our own sanctification, and that to the degree necessary when they are self-centered, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, injurious in speech, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, heartless, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, untamed, despisers of the good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God and those who have an outward appearance of godliness but who deny the true spiritual dynamics of such a front, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Lesson: Fellowship with a TRUE God Who is SEPARATE from SIN necessarily causes one who fellowships with HIM to SEPARATE FROM errant, unrighteous, unholy beliefs and their promoters. Thus, the GODLY must LIMIT his fellowship, (a) SEPARATING from apostates who deny Christ's Person and Work in FIRST DEGREE separation, and (b) SEPARATING to VARYING DEGREES in SECOND degree separation from believers for varying degrees of beliefs and acts that harm believers.

Application: Contrary to the opinion of many believers today, SEPARATION is NOT NECESSARILY an UNLOVING practice: YES, there IS an ERRANT isolationism to avoid, but TRUE separation is PART of FELLOWSHIP with a God Who is RIGHTEOUS and Who is hence SEPARATE from SIN, cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18. May we thus LOVE GOD to the point that we practice BIBLICAL SEPARATION.