13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:13–15, NKJV)
From time to time the question arises whether a fallen away Christian is, in fact, still a brother or sister in Christ. Today’s passage helps us understand that fallen Christians are still brethren, albeit, brethren in sin in need of discipline and warnings to try to bring about their repentance. Verse 13 refers to “brethren” who are faithful not to grow weary in doing the good things of God. The “anyone” of verse 14 is any Christian who becomes weary of doing good (being faithful) and “walks disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Normal social contact with that person is to cease in a disciplinary attempt to cause him to be ashamed of his sin and repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Verse 15 directly says the wayward Christian is “a brother” whom we continue to warn rather than treat as an enemy. Therefore, we conclude that one who falls from the faith is an erring brother or sister – an erring child of God who needs repentance and prayer to be forgiven by God (James 5:19-20; Acts 8:22).
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you… (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7)
Christians are commanded by nothing less than the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ to withdraw from “every brother” who “walks disorderly” . We learn several important truths here. First, God commands faithful Christians to discipline disobedient Christians by withdrawing their social contact from the unrepentant Christian (“do not keep company with him”, 2 Thess. 3:14). Those who refuse to obey this command become disorderly themselves. Second, a Christian who refuses to repent of sin is lost (“disorderly”) and must become “ashamed” of his sin in order to repent (2 Thess. 3:14). The stated purpose for withdrawing from the disorderly Christian is “to admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:15). Third, a command from the apostles carries the weight of heaven’s authority. If one refuses to obey the apostles he is refusing the commandment of the Lord. Four, when we follow the apostles we walk orderly and have God’s approval. Let us walk orderly by following the apostles’ teaching.