[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]In visiting various state and national parks through the years, I have seen my share of “do not feed the animals” signs. And these signs are placed in these parks for a serious reason. And of course the obvious reason is, that when a wild animal no longer has to hunt for its food for survival, these animals become a very dangerous threat to humans.[/x_custom_headline]

And in most cases, the threat isn’t to those who refuse to heed the warning signs, it is to those innocent people who come along afterwards that usually have to pay the price for their recklessness.

In fact, I still have vivid memories of a time when I took my wife and three sons camping, and the campground was invaded by bears. We even had one bear sniffing around our tent, obviously hungry, and looking for food.  Someone had recently left food out at that campground I heard later, and the bears had enjoyed a feast. And because of this, the hungry bears no longer hesitated to come directly into the campground, no matter how populated it was with campers, looking for more food.

Having been rewarded with food on a previous visit, they became fearless, and in reality, much more dangerous, because their needs had been so easily met by the carelessness and foolishness of a previous camper. The safety of other campers was jeopardized because of their disregard and refusal to follow the written rules of the campground regarding the handling of food and trash.

[highlight]Perhaps you didn’t realize it but the Bible has a number of warnings about how we are to relate to church troublemakers, busybodies and various other types of rebellious Christians, who can often be just like a grizzly bear let loose in the church.[/highlight] Yet when we handle these types of individuals God’s way, according to the scriptures, it provides an avenue for them to repent and get their life back on track with God. However, when we don’t, we are no different than the negligent camper I referred to above, whose thick-headedness actually put the lives of others at risk.

So let’s examine some of these “do not feed the rebels” verses, and I know you will see exactly what I mean.

[x_blockquote cite=”2 Thessalonians 3:6 KJV” type=”left”]“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”[/x_blockquote]

According to this verse, withdrawing yourself from “every brother that walks disorderly,” is not a suggestion, it’s a command. But why is it a command from God to do this, you might ask. Well first of all, it is because a rebellious, out of control Christian, will adversely affect and hinder your progress and advancement with God, as well as the other members of a local church. In fact, an out-of-control Christian has the same effect on the local church as the spray of a skunk! Even if you aren’t the target of the shot of skunk spray, you still won’t be able to escape the stink.

Now keep in mind that the majority of believers truly do want to serve the Lord with all of their heart, and to the best of their ability. And when they do miss it, they want to get right with God as soon as they discover they have erred. So to be perfectly clear, this verse is referring to people who have a lifestyle of misconduct, and not simply someone who has made a mistake.

Perhaps we can understand the verse better by defining the word “disorderly.” The word disorderly in the verse above, means to be insubordinate. It is referring to those who understand the pastor’s role, as well as the role of the other church leaders, but refuses to follow them, and instead causes trouble in the church.

So to make it more clear, the verse above teaches us to withdraw ourselves from every believer who is insubordinate. In other words, these people are living a sinful lifestyle that violates the Word of God. These people are disrupting the operation of the church through their stubbornness, and are creating friction and strife within the family of God. And so to handle this issue God’s way, we must separate ourselves from people who have a lifestyle that is out of line with the Word of God.

[highlight]But this doesn’t mean that we are to stop loving them.[/highlight] It means that we do not have fellowship with them while they are acting like grizzly bears, tearing up the campground and terrorizing all of the other campers.

Now here is yet another verse that instructs us to stop fellowshipping with believers who step back into a sinful lifestyle.

[x_blockquote cite=”1 Corinthians 5:11 KJV” type=”left”]“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”[/x_blockquote]

The longer you put up with someone who refuses to repent and to change their lifestyle, the longer you are hurting yourself. These people will begin to have a negative effect on you, if your level of fellowship with them continues unchanged. And what’s more, they are able to live a sinful lifestyle, all the while enjoying the same level fellowship with the other believers, and with impunity. Through your fellowship with them, you are actually aiding and abetting their sinful practices.

In other words, they can practice their sinning, and still experience all of the benefits of fellowship with those Christians who are living in right standing with God. So, there is no reason for these individuals to repent and get right with God, when their fellowship with the other believers remains unchanged.

But let me stress here that we are not pulling back from our fellowship with these insubordinate and sinful believers for the sake of meanness. In reality, it is for them to realize the loss their compromise and sinful practices have cost them.

The benefits of the Kingdom of God are rewarded to those who are obedient to Him, and not to those who disobey. And true Bible fellowship is one of the dearest rewards of being in God’s family.

As difficult as it may seem, withholding fellowship from church rebels and troublemakers is a sound, biblical method for letting them see the error of their ways, and to move them to the place of true repentance. [highlight]So stop feeding the grizzly bears, and all of the other rebellious Christians at your church.[/highlight]