By John Flavel
In this easy-going age, many church members have little understanding of the vital doctrines of sin and salvation. Some who have repented of their sins and now trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, have no clear understanding of their biblical duties as members of the visible church. Indeed, many do not realise that it is necessary to be members of a true, visible church. This brochure seeks to address these needs.
Sins of Church Members - Ten Point Checkup
There are ten sins of which church members are frequently guilty. Each of them is plainly forbidden by the Word of God. Because of this, those who indulge in them merit God’s strong displeasure. However, as each member honestly faces these issues, the church will receive the fruits of His favour. The ten sins are:
How we live before the world is vital. Lack of care and thought about how we live before those outside the church is one of the most common sins of church members. Col. 4:5 says, Walk in wisdom towards those who are outside. By a careless disregard for this rule, we harden the wicked in their sins, bring guilt upon ourselves, and reproach upon the name and ways of God.
Idleness the work place is plainly contrary to 2 Thess. 3:11,12. There are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all: Such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that they work in quietness, and eat their own bread. This brings poverty (literally) on yourselves and scandal on the name of Christ.
Tale-bearing and gossiping includes revealing things which should be kept confidential within a family or between persons. This causes much strife, cooling and quenching mutual love. It is expressly forbidden, Lev. 19:16. You shall not go about as a tale-bearer among your people. 1 Tim. 5:13 warns, Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.
4. Receiving Gossip
Christians sometimes believe rumours or gossip and act rashly on them. We ought not to do this against even the lowliest
member. Lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings,
2 Cor. 12:20, etc. We must especially guard against doing this against church-officers. Do not receive an accusation
against an elder except from two or three witnesses, 1 Tim. 5:19. This sin strikes at the bond of peace [in the family,
the church and society].
5. Neglecting Worship
Do you neglect Godís worship or the Lordís Supper for trivial reasons? That is, reasons other than works of necessity or
mercy, contrary to Hebrews 10:25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.
Minor matters should never hinder us from our chief duty - to worship God.
Arriving late for worship demonstrates a lack of zeal for Godís house. It also shows that you are not expecting Godís
blessing in worship. I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord, Psalm 122:1.
Irreverence and lack of seriousness at worship are common sins. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the
saints; and to be had in reverence by all those around Him, Psalm 89:7. One evidence of this is an excessively casual
attitude towards how we dress for worship. The woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the
angels, 1 Cor. 11:10. Another evidence of this sin is a lazy posture. The pew is not a resting place. Nor is it the place
for idle chatter. Eccles. 5:1 admonishes, Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; draw near to hear rather than
to give the sacrifice of fools.
Reproof is universally neglected. We have a duty to reprove sin biblically, Lev. 19:17. You shall surely rebuke your
neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. This is Christís own rule, Matt. 18:15. Go, and tell him his fault between
you and him alone. We are also to receive reproof from our brethren when it is necessary. Let the righteous smite me;
it shall be a kindness... Psalm 141:5.
Unresolved strife and friction between members causes division. Differences are to be nipped in the bud prudently and
promptly, not allowed to blossom into public scandals. The apostleís rule in 1 Cor. 6:5-7 is, Is there not a wise man
among you? ... But brother goes to law against brother, and that before the unbelievers? Now therefore, it is already
an utter failure for you. [Paul was always concerned about disunity, 1 Cor. 1:10, Phil. 4:2].
Beware of a self-centred attitude. Preoccupation with our own concerns is expressly condemned in Phil. 2:21. All seek
their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. How different was Paulís attitude to his brothers and sisters in
Christ! 2 Cor.11:29.
Six Blessings Flowing from Self-Examination
1. Facing these sins and repenting of them will put a lustre on your Christian witness before the world. It will make it
look glorious to many who now despise you. Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, Tit.2:10. Paul
says this to encourage us to take care about how we live as Christians.
2. This will attract and win many of the world to Christ. It will wonderfully prosper the purpose of the gospel. That
you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation
... That I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain, Phil. 2:15-16.
3. This will powerfully shut the mouths of all who mock or blaspheme the Christian faith. For this is the will of God,
that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, 1 Peter 2:15.
4. This will greatly glorify God. This is our chief end or reason for living. Matt. 5:16, Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
5. This will bring Godís blessing of much inward peace to His people, as He has promised in Gal. 6:16. And as many as
walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
6. This will ensure the presence of God with us and among us, giving us great joy in worship. It will also give us stability
and glory in our churches. Why? Because Christ walks among the golden candlesticks. If we defect from the gospel He
threatens to remove the candlestick out of his place, except they repent, Rev. 2:1,5.
Ten Duties of Church Members
Membersí first duty is to gather together frequently for Christian fellowship, Mal. 3:16. Then they that feared the
Lord spoke to one another... Seize the opportunity to attend prayer meetings and Bible Studies. Discuss the points
raised in the Lordís Day sermon with family and Christian friends. Participate in informal Christian social gatherings.
All these activities are a great help to edify one another. After all, this is what Christian fellowship is designed for,
2. Evangelism and Mission
The Christianís second duty is to evangelise both personally and by supporting the sound preaching of the Word of God.
Remember that the witness of our words and our lives helps in the conversion of the carnal and careless world. Paul
encouraged the whole church at Philippi, including elders and deacons (1:1) to ...help these women who laboured with me
in the gospel... Phil. 4:3. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together
with me in prayers to God for me, Rom. 15:30.
3. Helping One Another
Christians have a duty to bear, and bear with, the infirmities of their weaker brethren. This often means keeping our
opinions to ourselves when we can do so without sin, so that we donít cause needless offence. We then who are strong,
ought to bear the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbour for his good,
leading to edification. Rom. 15:1-2.
4. Maintaining Unity of the Church
Members of true churches of Jesus Christ are to have a tender regard for the churchís unity. This applies in matters of
doctrine, love, and practice. We are to avoid (within the bounds of Scripture) all causes and occasions of division and
separation. Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned; and avoid them,
Rom. 16:17. Scripture continually exhorts us to be Ďlikemindedí, 1 Cor. 1:10, Phil. 2:1-2, 4:2.
5. Walk Humbly
The poorest and least educated Christian deserves the love and respect of his brethren. Indeed, every Christian is to
esteem others more than himself or herself. External things make no difference with Christ according to Romans 12:10 -
In honour giving preference to one another. Galatians 3:28 reminds us, You are all one in Christ Jesus.
This means that a Christian should respect brethren who hold responsible positions in society, Eph.5:21, Rom.13:7, 1
6. Submit to Reproof
Christians must humbly receive reproofs from each other for their sins, especially when the matter is just. When we must
reprove a brother, it must be done Biblically in love. Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: And let him
rebuke me, it shall be as excellent oil. Ps.141:5.
7. Exercise Gifts
Every Christian has their spiritual gifts and graces, 1 Cor. 12:7f. Each has a duty to exercise them, sharing their
experiences of Godís dealing with their souls, without interfering with the work specifically appointed to elders and
deacons. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of
God, 1 Pet.4:10
Take care to avoid sinful favouritism, including some and excluding others. Observe these things without prejudice,
doing nothing with partiality, 1 Tim. 5:21. We ought also to give the greatest priority to those who have the
greatest need and would benefit most.
Christians ought to give cheerfully to relieve the needs of their brethren. The Lord loves such, 2 Cor. 9:7. Do not
forget to do good and to share, Heb. 13:16. In order to do this properly, they must apply themselves seriously in
their secular work. Eph. 4:28 counsels, Working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him
who has need.
Members are especially responsible to make adequate provision for their ministers, as the Lord enables them. This is not
a matter of courtesy, but their duty, 1 Cor. 9:14. Even so the Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel
should live from the gospel.
9. Care for the Distressed
We should not only relieve the distressed members of Christ, but actively seek them out and visit them. We must make it
our business to know their spiritual and temporal needs. How else can we fulfil our biblical obligations to them? Pure
and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble. James 1:27.
10. Love Thinks No Evil
A much neglected duty is to put charitable constructions upon doubtful words and actions. If there are two or more possible
constructions, always adopt the fairest and most charitable, 1 Cor. 13:5-7. Love thinks no evil ,,, bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Such charity will defend and maintain church peace and
unity. Above all, let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother, Zech. 7:10.
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