Sins are clearly listed in the New Testament. In general, sin is acting without faith toward God and love toward others. A person who persists in unrepentant sin is not a member of God's family (1 John 3:7-10). "The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23) It is impossible to have a spiritually alive relationship with individuals in unrepentant sin. Second Corinthians 6:14-18 is often applied to those seeking marriage, but it is a command regarding all relationships:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
Separate is aphorizo in Greek; meaning to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to appoint, set apart for some purpose.

There is no fellowship between the righteous and the unrighteous, until the unrighteous repent of their sin and allow Jesus to cleanse them (1 John 1:5-10). Since Jesus has already paid the debt for sin, we must not hold people indebted to us who repent and ask our forgiveness. As Christians we must forgive those who have changed their minds and actions (repented) and made peace (reconciled) with us. Then we can choose how intimate a relationship we have with them.


God is Holy and True, and has established boundaries for Himself as a Person to keep His Holy Self separate from unholy people. Before God descended upon Mount Sinai, He commanded Moses to have the people consecrate themselves and to set up a boundary around the mountain so that they would not touch it (Exodus 19). Neither could His meeting place, the ark of the covenant, be touched (2 Samuel 6). God, the Holy Spirit, can not be touched, neither will He tolerate being lied to or blasphemed (Acts 5:1-11 and Mat. 12:30-32). Only in the Person of His Son could sinful humans come into physical contact with the Living God and not perish (1 John 1:1). God provided a way for our spiritual restoration with His untouchable Person by our repentance of sin and the receiving of forgiveness through His Son's physical death and resurrection.

The Father has now imparted His holiness to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. Though we must continue in loose associations with unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:9-11), we are not to partner with unbelievers in their endeavors nor drag them into ours.

When a person doesn't abide by another's personal boundaries, they are trying to devalue them as a person. Personal boundaries can be physical - "please don't greet me with a kiss"; emotional - "please don't be sarcastic with me"; social - "I do/don't appreciate having a door opened for me"; or spiritual - "please don't use God's Name as a cuss word". Especially in our associations with unbelievers, we need to maintain our boundaries; thus giving ourselves and our Lord due respect and honor.

We are His ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21), not to devalue unbelievers because of their sins, but to implore them to receive forgiveness from Jesus Christ who has valued them so highly as to die for their sins that He might impart His righteousness unto them and bring them into fellowship. But in our age of "calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)" it is imperative for us to determine the real sins in Scripture, and then to differentiate between unbelievers, believers, and apostates.


Romans 1:28-32 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
Unrighteousness is adikia in Greek; meaning "not right"; iniquity, wrong, or injustice.
Wickedness is poneria in Greek; meaning depravity, malice, evil purposes and desires.
Maliciousness is kakia in Greek; meaning malignity, ill-will, desire to injure, or trouble.
Deceit is dolos in Greek; meaning craft, deceit, guile.
Malignity is kakoetheia in Greek; meaning "bad ethics", bad character, or depraved.
Whisperers is psithuristes in Greek; meaning charmer, secret slanderer, or detractor.
Backbiters is katalalos in Greek; meaning "speaks against", a defamer, or evil speaker.
Haters of God is theostuges in Greek; meaning hateful to God, or exceptionally wicked.
Despiteful is hubristes in Greek; meaning despiteful, injurious, insolent; one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps abusive language or shameful acts upon others.
Proud is huperephanos in Greek; meaning "think or appear above", haughty, controlling, despising or treating others with contempt.
Boasters is alazon in Greek; meaning an empty pretender, or a vagrant boaster.
Inventors of evil is epheuretes in Greek; meaning "found out by", or a contriver.
Disobedient (to parents) is apeithes in Greek; meaning unpersuasible, or not compliant.
Without understanding is asunetos in Greek; meaning "no prudence", or foolish.
Covenantbreakers is asunthetos in Greek; meaning "no agreement", or faithless.
Without natural affection is astorgos in Greek; meaning "no affection".
Implacable is aspondos in Greek; meaning cannot be persuaded to make peace.
Without mercy is aneleemon in Greek; meaning merciless.

Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Uncleanness is akatharsia in Greek; meaning impure, lewd or foul.
Lasciviousness is aselgeia in Greek; meaning filthy or wanton.
Witchcraft is pharmakeia ("pharmacy") in Greek; meaning drugged visions, or sorcery.
Hatred is echthra in Greek; meaning hostility, enmity, oppositional.
Variance and debate are eris in Greek; meaning quarrel, wrangling, contention, or strife.
Emulations is zelos in Greek; meaning unfavorable zeal, heat (a hot-head) or jealousy.
Wrath is thumos in Greek; meaning unfavorable passion, fierce or indignant.
Strife is eritheia in Greek; meaning faction or contention.
Seditions is dichostasia in Greek; meaning disunion, dissention or division.
Heresies is hairesis in Greek; meaning sect or disunion.
Envyings is phthonos in Greek; meaning ill-will, detraction, or spite.
Murders is phonos in Greek; meaning to slay or slaughter (see 1 John 3:15).
Revellings is komos in Greek; meaning loose laying, carousing or rioting.
Do is prasso in Greek; meaning practice, perform repeatedly or habitually, or commit.

When Jesus described the church, it was believers dealing with sin, not doctrines. Sins are personal and relational; doctrines are impersonal and isolationist.After establishment of faith in the Biblical Jesus, all other beliefs are not sins. Heresy is not entertaining a false doctrine, it is dividing off members of the Body into a separate group which may or may not have false doctrine. Sedition is being divisive while yet remaining in the Body. Divisive people (heretics) are to be warned twice, and then excommunicated (Titus 3:9-11).

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Fornicators is pornos (fornication is porneia) in Greek; meaning a whoremonger, a male prostitute, or a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse.
Idolaters is eidololatres in Greek; meaning image-server or worshipper of false gods.
Adulterers is moichos (adultery is moicheia) in Greek; meaning one who breaks faith with a spouse or God.
Effiminate is malakos in Greek; meaning soft to the touch, as refers to a catamite (boy kept for homosexual relations with a man); or a homosexual.
Abusers of themselves with mankind is arsenokoites in Greek; meaning "take away boy sex" or kidnappers who rape the children.
Thieves is kleptes in Greek; meaning an embezzler or pilferer; the name is transferred to false teachers who abuse the trust of others for their own gain.
Covetous is pleonektes in Greek; meaning one eager to have more, especially what belongs to others; or greedy of gain.
Drunkards is methusos (drunkenness is methe) in Greek; meaning intoxicated.
Revilers is loidoros in Greek; meaning one who demeans with abusive language.
Extortioner is harpax (the root means to seize) in Greek; meaning ravening.
Sanctified is hagiazo in Greek; meaning to hallow, or to separate from profane things.
Justified is dikaioo in Greek; meaning to be freed or declared righteous.

These are lists of real sins. Those who habitually practice any of these sins are not Christians regardless of what they may say (Ephesians 5:5-7 and 1:10-16). There are Christians who have such sinful lifestyles in their past who have separated themselves from those sins and have been declared righteous by Jesus. Sadly, there are those who reject Jesus and their salvation in order to return to their former sinful lifestyles (2 Peter 2:20-22), and Christians are to treat them as unbelievers (Mat. 18:17).


Romans 11:32 "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all."

Ephesians 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
Unbelief and disobedience are apeitheia (apathy) in the Greek; meaning "unpersuasible", obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will. Unbelievers don't care about God or others or their own destiny. They are blinded by the prince of darkness and practice the deeds of their "father". They appear content in Satan's realm until they realize they are enslaved to sinful deeds and to the prince himself. They need a Savior in order to escape his practices and his kingdom. The Holy Spirit convinces everyone that Jesus is the one and only Savior.

John 16:8-11 "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
Believe is pisteuo in the Greek; meaning commit unto, put in trust with, to think to be true, to place confidence in, or to be persuaded of.

The primary sin of non-Christians is rejecting the reproof of the Holy Spirit and refusing to believe in Jesus as Savior. Unbelievers are under the influence of Satan, but are responsible for closing their eyes and ears to the truth (Romans 1:18-20). The acts of their sinful natures are only outward manifestations of the lack of a saving relationship with Jesus. It is not necessarily sins which send people to hell, but the sin of refusing Jesus that shuts them out of His presence for eternity. Sins can be curtailed outwardly by society's laws and standards of acceptance. People can choose to ascribe to these to help themselves "feel" good; but to "be" good, they need a Savior to impart His righteousness to them. They need to turn from their identification with sins to identification with Christ's righteousness.



Matthew 12:31-32 "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
Blasphemy is blasphemia in Greek; meaning railing, abusive speech, evil speaking, slander, detraction, speech injurious to another's good name.
Speaketh is epo in Greek; meaning say, tell, or command.
Against is kata in Greek; meaning against or after.

Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
Vain is shav' in Hebrew; meaning emptiness, vanity, or falsehood.
Guiltless is naqah in Hebrew; meaning to be empty, be clear, be pure, be free, be innocent, be exempt from punishment, or to leave unpunished.

God's Name is translated "I Am that I Am" from the Hebrew consonants roughly equivalent to the English letters YHWH. The Jews feared taking God's Name in vain, and so they wrote it without the vowels. We can only guess at its pronunciation in Hebrew: possibly Yahweh or Jehovah. God has His limits. He will not forgive people who attribute the miraculous works of His Spirit to the devil, or who speak against His Holy Spirit. These people are devoid of life and revile the Giver of Life. The New Testament command is much stronger than the Old Testament command.

Christian children in spiritually dead families do not have the ability to completely separate from their sinful parents or siblings, but they can try to establish and strengthen their personal boundaries according to God's Word until they can physically leave the home.


There are behavioral preferences based upon our interpretation of the Bible, and personal faith. Some churches force these areas to be church doctrine. If we simply stated our preferences, we would attract those who have similar preferences without rejecting or condemning others.

The old covenant of many DON'TS was given to the Jews accompanied by fear of death or strict punishment for disobedience. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded with two DO's (love God and your neighbor in Mark 12:30-31).

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

The command was given to Christians without fear of punishment (1 John 4:18). Our loving the brethren would show the world and each other that we are Christians; and any who hated a true believer in Christ would prove he is not a Christian (1 John 4:14-15). Old Testament laws no longer apply to us. Though the Old Testament is a treasure of warnings and examples for us (1 Cor. 10:1-13), the Law was canceled by the cross, and our standard is Jesus Christ (Col. 2:14-23). Some believers content to live under the Law live as if Christ's commandment was to judge one another.


It is curse to remain under the Law (Gal. 3:1-25), but it is not a sin to be legalistic. You can determine between you and God alone that all sorts of things would be sin for you (James 4:17): chewing gum, playing cards, going to movies, observing Christmas, saluting the flag, wearing make-up or perfumes, eating only particular foods, competing in sports, listening to certain music, and the list goes on. But you commit a sin of offense when you try to force another believer to adopt your code. Read Romans 14 and 15, and Colossians 2:9.


Eating of blood and anything strangled

When an animal is strangled, the blood remains in the meat. Strangulation and blood drinking are still associated with Satanism today. The council at Jerusalem restricted foods sacrificed to idols, anything strangled, and blood. They did this to keep Gentile converts from reverting to paganism and offending the Hebrew Christians (Acts 15:28-29). Paul clarifies God's concerns on the matter in Romans 14. Paul's emphasis is faith and peace:

Romans 14:19-23 "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

Alcohol and meat

The subject of alcohol has split many churches and relationships. My family has chosen to ban alcohol from our home because my parents are alcoholics. I am weak in this area, and those who have faith to drink alcohol would put a stumbling block in my way if they required me to join in their freedom. It is scripturally clear that drunkenness is a sin (Eph. 5:18 and 1 Cor. 5:11), but it is not always easy to discern if someone is drunk.

I believe Jesus drank and created real fermented wine. Jesus said, "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children." (Matthew 11:19).

In Deut. 21:20 and Pr. 23:21, glutton is translated from gaster which means all stomach or pregnant. Jesus enjoyed meat and wine as blessings of His Father as He fellowshipped with honest sinners, but I doubt he had a pot-belly. Gluttony in the New Testament refers to meat eaters. Yet one trait of a false leader is that he will forbid eating meat (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

As with drunkards, it is often difficult to discern if someone is a glutton. How much meat is too much; or is it a certain kind of meat? How big must a belly be to be considered that of a glutton? Are medical reasons taken into account? What about those who eat gluttonously and naturally remain thin or then purge themselves and remain thin?

Gluttons and drunkards are similar in that they allow what they ingest to control them and identify them: "whose god is their belly" (Phil. 3:19). They worship their appetites instead of God. In their despair they habitually turn to food and drink instead of turning to God. It takes an intimate friend or spouse to know whether or not a believer has become a glutton or drunkard, because it is not easily discerned by an outsider. As Christians we are commanded, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days." (Colossians 2:16)


In my exposure to Christianity, I learned an unwritten rule that it's of spiritual importance to be on good terms with one's family of origin, and one's spirituality comes into question if one is not. I find that scripture does not support this 'rule'. To impose such thinking on an incest survivor is cruel and confusing. The survivor can forgive, but repentance and reconciliation must take place to even attempt restoration of a relationship. I'm not certain the initial, child-like trust can ever be fully restored, but I know God is able to rebuild some sort of trust again between willing hearts.


Peaceful separation upon mutual agreement

ch. 13 Abraham and Lot separate to preserve their unity as brothers, and to reduce quarreling. That sounds like a typical denominational split.

Separations at God's command

ch. 12 Abraham left his country and his father's household at God's command.

ch. 21 Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away at God's behest through Sarah.

Separations because of sins

ch. 2 Adam and Eve sinned against God, their Father and Creator. God confronted their sin, but they did not repent. God punished them with pain and sorrow and labor. He gave them hope of restoration (the Seed, Jesus) and atoned for their sin (He had to shed blood to make garments of animal skins). God banished them from the garden lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever in their sin.

ch. 3 Cain kills Abel out of jealousy. Cain is accused, judged, cursed, marked and banished. This is a pattern the Church could follow for unrepentant offenders. Ham, father of Canaan, saw his father Noah's nakedness, and was cursed by Noah to be slaves to his brothers.

ch. 27 Between Jacob and Esau are betrayal, usurpation, and preference (Romans 9:13): they are briefly reunited in ch. 33 after more than 20 years of separation, and even then, Jacob approaches with fear and gifts of appeasement. It could be a pattern for reuniting dysfunctional families.

ch. 28 Jacob and Uncle Laban - more betrayal, but they make a witness heap at Mizpah (ch. 31) to declare they won't harm each other. This could be related to visual "fruits of repentance".

ch. 31 Rachel steals father's gods as she leaves.

ch. 37 Jacob prefers Joseph (his father preferred Esau - the favoritism continues), making Joseph a stench to his brothers. In jealousy they sell him and lie to their father.

ch. 39 Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph (the trouble of living in someone else's home). Joseph is set up by his father's favoritism to be physically abused by his brothers. The family is full of jealousy, envy, lying, secrecy, deception, denial, and isolationism.


Gen. 37:1-11 Joseph is the first born son of Jacob's favorite wife, and Jacob displays his love by making him a richly ornamented robe; thus setting him above and apart from his brothers - a blessing and a curse.

Gen. 37:12-36 Joseph is empowered by his father, and victimized by his brothers and slave traders. Is God setting Joseph up for victimization, or does Joseph encourage it by telling his family about his dreams? Could God have accomplished His goals for His people without Joseph being victimized? There is no record that God commanded Joseph to tell his family his dreams. Maybe he would have been better off if he'd pondered these things in his heart as another teenager (Mary) did when overwhelmed with the place in history God had planned.

Gen. 39 Joseph is empowered by Potiphar, and victimized by Potiphar's wife and sent to jail. Joseph is then empowered by jailer. Joseph had an abusive past: his mom died early in his life, his father spoiled him and made him a stench to his brothers, and his brothers sold him into slavery. He was a slave in a foreigner's house which had no respect for his God, and he could have satisfied his young hormones and kept his position; but he sacrificed all to obey God. Past abuse is never an excuse for present sin. God gives all His servants the ability to obey Him. Joseph depended on that ability. Gen. 41 Joseph is temporarily forgotten by cupbearer, and then empowered by Pharoah. Joseph marries an Egyptian and has two sons. (Jacob/Israel later places the first-born second by crossing his hands when blessing them. Was this of God or a continuation of his own guilt? - See ch.48) Joseph doesn't try to contact his family, even though he cares deeply for his father and younger brother. Was he awaiting God's intervention?

Gen. 42-45 Joseph tests his brothers over a 2 year period, keeping one of them in jail for over a year, to see if they have repented and are now trustworthy before he reveals himself to them. He is also in a place of power and control over his brothers; a place of safety where they can no longer harm him. I did this by establishing rules for communication.

Gen. 42:22, 37 Reuben, the first-born, takes on the responsibility (for a crime he didn't commit), even offering the lives of his own two sons if harm comes to Benjamin.

Gen. 45:5-8 Joseph comforts his brothers saying God sent him to Egypt in order to provide during the famine.

Gen. 50 Joseph asks Pharoah to fulfill a promise to bury his father. Joseph's brothers still fear vengeance and lie, saying their father wanted him to forgive them. They still have not forgiven themselves or accepted his forgiveness. In verse 18 they throw themselves at his feet saying, "We are your slaves".

Gen. 50:19-21 "And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive, now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them."
Meant is chashab in Hebrew, meaning considered, reckoned, regarded, devised, accounted, or planned.

I believe this is a personal revelation to Joseph, as opposed to a general revelation ("Thus sayeth the Lord to His people"). It is similar to Romans 8:28 in that God and those He calls will win in the end. By no means do these verses imply we should rejoice in or give thanks for evil, but that we can trust God to redeem the evil in our lives and fulfill His will for us. I don't believe God plans for people to sin against us. People are enticed to sin by their own wills (James 1:13-18). God plans to bring about goodness in our lives in spite of the sins done against us, or the sins we commit ourselves. Sin is never God's will.

Joseph remains in power over them, but they are not able to reestablish brotherly trust. The victim becomes the victor, but family trust and love are not restored.


Jesus was spiritually abused by the religious leaders of His day.

Jesus was emotionally abused by his siblings and the people.

Jesus was physically abused by the Romans.

Jesus was sexually shamed on the cross.

It is my understanding that Jesus was crucified naked, but God clothed Him with darkness in the middle of the day (John 19:23 and Luke 23:44). Jesus forgave His abusers and gave His life to set them free. Jesus continues to be abused by what evil men do to His people: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" refers to Saul's assaults on Christians, the body of Christ. God's period of grace will end one day, and then comes His judgment. God will avenge His children.


There are two spiritual families: those in Adam (spiritually dead and enslaved to sin) and those in Christ (spiritually alive and free from habitual sin). Within our families of origin and our religious families we may encounter people in Adam and people in Christ.


Adam and Eve were created for healthy, harmonious relationship with God and each other. Their sin created distance with holy God which could be appeased by sacrifice and obedience to His laws. Transgression and disobedience of the Law (Romans 5:14 and 19) kept mankind at a distance until Jesus fulfilled the Law and sacrificed Himself once to establish a new covenant. Now intimate relationship between God and man can exist as our repentance receives His forgiveness in Jesus. Until we repent of our sins and submit ourselves to Jesus, we remain under the dominion of the devil; the same serpent who beguiled Adam and Eve away from fellowship with God.

God has condemned all who remain in the Adamic family system to death (1 Cor. 15:22). God knows the Adamic family system is evil, and so He calls His people to "come out from them and be separate." There is no possibility of intimacy with God in our fallen state; we have to be born into His family. God commands us to leave our sinful family system through repentance and faith in Christ in order to be included in His family system.


Jesus made a clear distinction between His Father in heaven and the unbelievers' father in hell (John 8). Some Jews believed Jesus, other Jews wanted to remain sure of heaven through their earthly ancestry in Abraham, but Jesus pointed to their enslavement to sin through their earthly ancestry in Adam.

John 8:34-36 "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

Read Mark 3:20-35. Jesus' family hears that the crowds won't even let him eat, so they claim Jesus is insane and needs them to take charge over Him. The Hebrew scholars add he is also demon-possessed, possibly hoping to place Him in their charge. After Jesus destroys the lawyers' arguments, he negates any authority his natural family has over Him by declaring the supremacy of His spiritual family relationships.


Both Joseph (Gen. 37:4) and Jesus had to contend with sarcastic brothers. We first need to note that when Jesus began His ministry, His natural family came with Him and His disciples (John 2:11-12); but later Jesus declares He has no home, and sleeps outside (Mat. 8:20). The sarcastic interchange with His brothers (John 7:1-15), in combination with the statements which follow, might have been the reason.

Sarcasm is a combination of pride, reviling and hatred. Pride (Gk. Huperephanos) means to think highly of yourself, and to despise others by treating them with contempt. To revile is to demean someone with abusive language. Sarcasm is also a manifestation of hatred as defined by Webster: "[Greek sarkasmos, a bitter laugh, from sarkazein, to tear flesh like dogs, to speak bitterly, from sarx, sarkos, flesh] 1. a taunting, sneering, cutting, or caustic remark; a gibe or jeer, generally ironical."[1]

Read John 7:1-15. Not only do his brothers disbelieve him, they also taunt him towards putting his life at risk. Jesus refuses to be manipulated by his siblings, and instead directs them to go to the feast while he remains behind. He makes a clear distinction between them as worldly and Himself as an Exposer of the world's evil works. Jesus established his own time-table and boundaries with which to protect Himself from his family and those Jews which were seeking to kill him. Jesus knew what it was like to stand up for the truth and to withstand the attacks on His identity while alone and unsupported by family or friends.

Jesus did not spend extra effort trying to convince or minister to the people in his own family or home town who disrespected him (Matthew 13:57-58).

Matthew 10:32-39 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."

Matthew 12:46-50 "While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."

There are unwritten natural family obligations: visiting on a regular basis, writing or calling on a regular basis, and sending cards or gifts for birthdays and holidays. Is it right to continue these superficial forms of relationship when true relationship does not exist? Will we deny the Lord and His Truth for the sake of maintaining a semblance of peace in our natural families, or will we allow God's Spirit to use His Truth for His glory in our families? As Christians we have been adopted into the family of God, natural family members who wish to enter are welcome.

God does not command us how to feel, but He does command us how to think and act. I might feel envious of someone, but it would be sin to think spiteful thoughts toward them. I've had feelings of hatred for my family members, but did not act openly hostile toward them; I did not practice hatred or devise how to hurt them. After I vented that anger and hatred, I proceeded on toward forgiving them, and asking God to forgive me of my hatred. Sin is sin regardless of who started it.

When you knowingly sin against a friend yet refuse to ask for, or receive, forgiveness; your relationship is at an impasse. You can continue surface actions and conversations and fool some people around you that your true friendship still exists, but you're the fool for choosing to live a lie instead of confessing the truth so that you can be forgiven and restored. Some "friends" and family choose to live in this fantasy world which covers up lies with more lies (sometimes even very polite ones). But they are very stressful, draining relationships often motivated by guilt and fear of reactions instead of being founded in the freedom to act out of love.

God's Spirit resides in me, and I also choose not to relate to my natural family on the basis of lies. I'm saddened that several have chosen to remain in denial and refuse my forgiveness at this time, but I can not repent for them. I know God is able to do miracles, and I wait upon His working in the situation.


Read Matthew 19:3-9


3 The Pharisees ask, "What's the reason/cause (aitia) for divorce?"

4 Jesus replies with the reasons for marriage: because God created them male and female (thelus in Greek, from theo which means to suck). In God's prime directive to propagate the species has never been repealed. "Female" in Hebrew in Gen. 1:27-28 is neqebah which literally means "a pure pierce" or "clean break through", referring to sex. Thus God's reason for marriage is for married couples to have sex as He so designed them (See 1 Cor. 7:1-5) and to have babies.

5 God's reason for marriage is to demonstrate His divine relationship of Oneness: As God is One, the two become ONE. The marriage relationship also demonstrates God's desire to be one with His people: God was a Husband to Israel; and Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church (also see John 17:20-23). The physical nature of a woman is why a man will leave the comfort of his own home to start a new family (Gen. 2:23-4). I think many young Christian couples who originated from dysfunctional homes would do well for themselves and their progeny to obey this command given to the first couple on earth. The husband needs to establish a NEW home in which his parents and others must abide by his rules (ie. no alcohol or drugs allowed; no swearing, dirty jokes, or sarcasm, etc.).

Also, the husband's first woman in his life is now his wife, and his mom will accept that fact either the hard way or the easy way. Hopefully the parents-in-law will graciously let go. Those who don't break out of the lies and sinful habits of their families of origin will tend to develop those same unhealthy ways of relating in their own home.

6 God's reason for marriage is to show the everlasting love He has toward us. "Let no one break the relationship God has brought together (yoked, placed in balance)."

7 The Pharisees ask, "Why the custom of (entellomai which also means command or charge) divorce from Moses?" Divorce is apostasion which means to send away, a forsaking; or specifically a certificate of divorce.

8 Jesus replied, (literally) "Moses shifted the position of permanent marriage because of your (dry, rough, harsh) hard hearts. But divorce was not God's intention from creation."

9 Jesus permits divorce only on grounds of adultery; and those who divorce and marry as a "legal" means to commit adultery are still guilty.

10 The disciples said to Jesus, "If this is the reason (aitia meaning cause or charge) for marriage (a permanent, monogamous sexual relationship to demonstrate God's love, and to fill the earth), it is not better (sumphero meaning profitable or bear with) to marry."

11 Jesus replied, "Everyone can not accept (choreo meaning make place for) this statement (that marriage is permanent and it is better not to marry), but those to whom it (place) has been given."

12 Those who have been given place not to marry are the eunuchs:

A. Who were eunuchs from birth (born without normal genitals or hormonal sex drives). B. Who were made that way by men (as Hitler did to many Jews). Or

C. Who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (a personal decision which does not make anyone more or less spiritual or acceptable to God). "He who has the ability/power (dunamai from where we derive dynamite) to accept this, let him accept (choreo) it!"

Read 1 Corinthians 7. During the sex-crazed, anti-Christian reign of Nero, Paul gave this advice:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9 "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."

1 Corinthians 7:12-13 "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him."

1 Corinthians 7:15 "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."

1 Corinthians 7:27-28 "Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."

Paul also issued this command from the Lord:

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife."

God, The Father, remained faithful to each generation of Israel even though they continued to break their vows and prostitute themselves with other gods (as described in Hosea) until one generations' adulteries led Him to give Israel a certificate of divorce (Jer. 3:8). Jeremiah 7 describes that generation as one who "worships the Queen of heaven" and "burn their sons and daughters in the fire -- something I did not command nor did it enter my mind". Yet God keeps a remnant faithful to Himself, and in the end he has 144,000 who not only have the name of the Lamb on their foreheads, but the name of the Father as well (Rev. 14:1). God understands the pain of separation and divorce, and He longs for reconciliation.


There are behavioral preferences which sometimes feel like sin because of the guilt and shame we experience when we violate them. There are common courtesies: covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, excusing bodily functions (passing gas, burping), shaking an offered hand, opening doors for those weaker than yourself, and so on. Some couples unwisely separate because of the irritation of differences in behavioral preferences, but they are not scriptural reasons to separate. The Biblical purpose of separation is so the sinner will come to repentance and be restored to relationship. Divorce is a last resort; it is not an 'easy way out'.


From 1 Cor. 7:12-16, if the unbelieving spouse leaves, the believing spouse is free to marry another. But a believer should not force the unbelieving spouse out in order to marry another. If an unbelieving spouse will remain only upon certain conditions, possibly a Christian counselor can help determine if the conditions are reasonable. Questions of church attendance and activity should be explored. Sometimes an unbeliever can 'smell' a cult before a believer recognizes it; so don't immediately discount reasons to attend a different Christian church.

Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse or death (1 Timothy 5:14) appear to be the only clear cases for remarriage. According to 1 Cor. 7:11 for all other occasions a couple separate, they are to remain unmarried or be reconciled. Though there are many reasons for a time of separation, you must think and act very carefully before proceeding with divorce, and determine whether or not you would be free to remarry. I would imagine God's grace is poured out on the precious people whose spouses have been declared MIA (Missing In Action) as to whether or not they should marry someone else. Whether or not incarceration is the same as abandonment depends on the motive and crime of the one now in prison.


Matthew 5:25-26 "Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Agree is eunoeo in Greek; meaning to wish well, or of a peaceable spirit. It is only used this once.
Adversary is antidikos in Greek; meaning opponent in a suit of law, or enemy.
Way is hodos in Greek; meaning road, journey, traveling, or a manner of thinking, feeling, and deciding.
Deliver is paradidomi in Greek; meaning to give over into one's power; to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death; or to deliver one to be taught.

Those who have suffered abuse at the hand of a spouse may take them to court. Those who are guilty of abuse would do well to confess quickly in hopes of avoiding prison. Before marriage, some will claim they are Christian, but never truly had a relationship with Jesus. Those who truly lived as Christians before marriage, but then lived a sinful lifestyle may be apostate.


Hebrews 6:1-2 "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

Before declaring anyone to be an apostate, a spouse would need to clarify that a true walk with Jesus according to the foundational truths listed above existed prior to the lifestyle of sin. Apostasy is when a born-again, water baptized, Spirit-filled, Bible reading (or listening), spiritual gift using believer in Jesus Christ forsakes his relationship with Jesus and His teaching. You are not commanded to approach an apostate as a "brother in sin" (Matt. 18), but to avoid him (Rom. 16:17). The church should support the remaining spouse during the excommunication of the apostate spouse.

Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
Fall away
is parapipto in Greek; meaning "having fallen away" (with no "if" in the text); to fall aside or to apostasize. This word is only used once in the N.T..
Renew is anakainizo in Greek; meaning "reverse to new" or restore.
Repentance is metanoia in Greek; meaning feel compunction, or reformation. It's interesting that "divorce" in Greek is apostasion; meaning forsaken or separate. God hates divorce; He hates separation. He would rather that all the members of His Body would obey Him and run to Him for forgiveness when they sin.


1 Corinthians 5:11 "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."
Fornicator is pornos in Greek; meaning a male prostitute or whoremonger.
Covetous is pleonektes in Greek; meaning desiring more, greedy for gain, or avaricious.
Idolater is eidololatres in Greek; meaning image-servant or idol worship.
Railer is loidoros (the root means mischief) in Greek; meaning one who demeans with abusive language.
Drunkard is methusos (the root means to drink to intoxication) in Greek; tipsy or a sot.
Extortioner is harpax (the root means to seize) in Greek; meaning rapacious or ravening.

Ephesians 5:5-7 "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them."
Whoremonger is pornos in Greek; meaning a male prostitute or fornicator.
Covetous is pleonektes in Greek; meaning greedy for gain, or avaricious.
Unclean person is akathartos in Greek; meaning impure, lewd or foul.
Partaker is summetochos in Greek; meaning partner with or partake together.

They call themselves a Christian, but deny Him by their lifestyle. We can not support these liars in their desecration of God's holy character.

Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Adultery is moicheia in Greek.
Fornication is porneia in Greek; meaning to indulge in unlawful lust, harlotry or idolatry.
Uncleanness is akatharsia in Greek; meaning impure.
Lasciviousness is aselgeia in Greek; meaning filthy or wanton.
Idolatry is eidololatreia in Greek; meaning image-worship.
Witchcraft is pharmakeia ("pharmacy") in Greek; meaning drugged visions, or sorcery.
Hatred is echthra in Greek; meaning hostility, enmity, oppositional.
Variance is eris in Greek; meaning quarrel, wrangling, contention, debate, or strife.
Emulations is zelos in Greek; meaning unfavorable zeal or heat (a hot-head) or jealousy.
Wrath is thumos in Greek; meaning unfavorable passion, fierce or indignant.
Strife is eritheia in Greek; meaning faction or contention.
Seditions is dichostasia in Greek; meaning disunion, dissention or division.
Heresies is hairesis in Greek; meaning sect or disunion.
Envyings is phthonos in Greek; meaning ill-will, detraction, or spite.
Murders is phonos in Greek; meaning to slay or slaughter.
Drunkenness is methe in Greek; meaning an intoxicant or intoxication.
Revellings is komos in Greek; meaning loose laying, carousing or rioting.
Do is prasso in Greek; meaning practice, perform repeatedly or habitually, or commit.

They practice these sins; notice the plurals in the list. It is not a simple misstep, or a trespass, but a way of life. These persons are calling themselves Christians while living these particularly sinful life-styles. They are deceiving themselves and trying to deceive others. Notice that both theological and moral sins are together in this list. The heretic gets two warnings and is excommunicated on the third offense (Titus 3:9-11). The morally depraved are confronted with the truth three times and then excommunicated (Matthew 18:15-17). Christians are to be people of clear boundaries. We are to separate from those who call themselves Christians, yet habitually practice sin.

APOSTASY THROUGH SPIRITUAL ABUSE (See Idolatry, Witchcraft, Heresies and Seditions in Gal. 5:19-21.)

Spiritual abuse is the current buzz word for sins committed within "Christian" cults. Ritual abuse is the current buzz word for sins committed within the occult. People who practice idolatry do not always use a physical idol. There are people who worship knowledge, wisdom (Sophia), and beauty as did the Greeks. Some worship the earth (Gaia), the stars (astrology-horoscopes), or the life-force (chi). People who practice witchcraft do not always call themselves witches, mediums, spiritists, seers, or sooth-sayers (Biblical terms); but psychics, clairvoyants, and palm-readers. Witchcraft can also include drugs and other concoctions which induce an altered mental state which is more receptive to demonic activity and possession. Heresies and seditions are divisive acts whether or not they contain false teaching. A heretic can convince you to spend more time saving whales, money or time than saving souls.

APOSTASY THROUGH EMOTIONAL ABUSE (See Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, and Envyings in Gal. 5:19-21.)

Emotional abuse could be termed sins against one's sanity and inner peace. There is a difference between wanting to know a spouse's schedule, and the mistrust generated by jealousy and envy. There is a big difference between disagreements and fierce opposition.

Proverbs 21:19 "It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman."

APOSTASY THROUGH VERBAL ABUSE (See Railer in 1 Corinthians 5:11.)

Emotional abuse could be termed sins against one's identity, much as Satan did to Jesus asking Him to perform tricks to prove He was the Son of God.

Ephesians 5:28-29 "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church."

Men are characterized looking into a mirror and commenting on their fine physique. A godly man who loves and accepts his own body will love and accept his wife's body, and not make disparaging remarks about her appearance, but will help her stay fit and attractive.

Proverbs 26:18-22 "As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport? Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."

Sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but words can devastate me. Our souls can only take so much damage. In our house we do not allow sarcasm or saying mean things as a joke. Couples who delight in demeaning each other will eventually find themselves separated.


1 Timothy 3:3 "Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous"

Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre"

Titus 3:2 "To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."
Striker is plektes in Greek; meaning bruiser, ready for a blow; a pugnacious, contentious, quarrelsome person.
Not a (no) brawler(s) is amachos in Greek; meaning not to be withstood, invincible; abstaining from fighting, not contentious.

Notice the coupling of "wine" and "striker". God knows the connection between alcohol abuse and violence. "No brawlers, but gentle;" God isn't interested in 'macho' men leading His sheep or a family.

Matthew 24:48-51 "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Smite is tupto in Greek; meaning to wound or beat with a staff, a whip, or hand.
Cut asunder is dichotomeo in Greek; meaning to cut into two parts, cut up by scourging, or to scourge severely.

God is familiar with the unfaithfulness of a spouse and domestic violence (read Malachi 2:10-16).

If a spouse feels the relationship is life-threatening, he/she should seek safety first and then seek counseling. A woman should separate from a man who physically abuses her. She might also leave if he is primarily physically abusing the children, and take the children with her. I consider a spanking which stings the skin to be a biblical form of discipline, but a spanking which purposely bruises or ruptures the skin is abusive. Just because children have bruises does not mean they're being abused -- children do play hard and fall down. May God give you discernment.

If the couple has no children of their own, yet a spouse is physically and/or sexually abusing children elsewhere, that spouse should be reported to authorities who can remove him/her from children and provide appropriate counseling and/or incarceration.

APOSTASY THROUGH ADDICTION (See Witchcraft and Drunkenness in Gal. 5:19-21.)

If a spouse is abusing his/her own body through addiction, it is likely that some other abuse of the family will follow. Separation for a time of detoxification is very reasonable; and with godly counseling, the relationship can be restored if the addict is repentant. Addictions are sins, not diseases. For excellent scriptural, scientific and medical proof I suggest you read The Useful Lie by Dr. William Playfair, published by Crossway Books.


The trust and the vows have already been broken, so God allowed His hard-hearted people to dissolve the legal contract of the marriage as well (Matthew 19:3-12); but a couple can still choose to repent and to forgive, and to restore the relationship.


The Greek root pornos, is our root for pornography. If a spouse refuses to repent from unlawful lust or from attempting to pressure his/her mate into unlawful sex (adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, masochism, voyeurism, viewing pornography . . .), he/she is to be excommunicated. The remaining spouse may wish to wait in hopes the sinner will repent; but divorce is an option, based upon 1 Cor. 5:11 and Eph. 5:5-7.


1 Timothy 5:8 "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he (actually, anyone) hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
Provide is pronoeo in Greek; meaning "think ahead", consider in advance how to maintain, or plan ahead.
Infidel is apistos in Greek; meaning "without faith", untrustworthy, or an unbeliever.

The context is how the immediate family should first take responsibility in caring for it's widows, but that if a widow has no one to take care of her (including other working females in the family), the church would provide for her under certain conditions. God is very serious about believers being responsible for providing for their own families. The context would also indicate the need to plan ahead for when elderly parents will need you, or to have a will and insurance to provide for your immediate family should you die or become unable to work.

A spouse being out of a job for a season is no grounds for separation, especially if he/she is looking for work and trying to provide, or is physically incapacitated. But one who's chosen not to provide for his/her own household is apostate. I believe you could extend this to include ex-spouses who refuse to pay child support or alimony. If the unproviding spouse remarries, from Exodus 21:10-11 it appears the remaining spouse is free to remarry. But remember in the Old Testament days they had polygamy and no welfare system beyond not gleaning the fields. Jesus did not give grounds for remarriage.

In Matthew 15:3-5 God commanded children to provide for their aging parents, but the Jews spiritualized their way out of it. In John 19:25-27 Jesus tells John to care for His mother. Jesus decides it would be better for Mary to be separated from her disbelieving, rebellious, natural children; and He establishes her in a believing home with John before He dies.

Review 1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:11-13; and 11:19. We allow separation in the family of God because of wicked life-styles and for the sake of truth. We should allow the same in natural families when a member's life-style threatens others, or members choose to stay in denial of the truth of abuse (incest, drug/alcohol, beatings, etc.).

Both Luke 17:3-4 and Matthew 5:23-24 are dealing with brothers in the faith. The offender is responsible to repent and seek reconciliation. The offended one is commanded to "rebuke" the offender and, "if he repent," to forgive him. If the offender repents and settles the dispute (reconciles), restoring the relationship may not be wise or possible. The offended person is not responsible to reconcile with the offender. There are Christians who are saved but who are not safe. During spousal separation the Lord gives the choice to settle the dispute or to remain unmarried. How much more so would He give the choice to remain separated from a sexual or spiritual abuser.

LIGHT (exposes in repentance) AND DARKNESS (denial)

The following Scriptures are about how lies and remaining in the dark causes disfellowship, and exposing the truth in the light of forgiveness results in fellowship.

John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

Acts 26:17c-18 "I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
Light is phos in Greek, meaning light or fire. It's from an obsolete phao (to shine or make manifest, especially by rays). Compare with phaino (appear, shine, be seen, seem, or think) and phemi (to declare, to say, to affirm, or to make known one's thoughts).

Luke 11:33 "No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."
Eye is ophthalmos in Greek, meaning the eye; or metaphorically, the eyes of the mind or the faculty of knowing.
Single is haplous in Greek, meaning "not weaved together"; simple or single.
Light (besides luchnos and photizo referring to the candle) is photeinos in Greek, meaning light, composed of light, of a bright character, full of light, or well lit.
Darkness is skotos in Greek (from skia meaning shade or shadow), meaning darkened eyesight or blindness or night darkness; metaphorically of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway - a 'shady' character.

If your single purpose is to know Jesus (which is eternal life) it determines the manner and course of your whole life. When you also entertain darkness, your efforts are distracted and divided.

Ephesians 5:7-16 "7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Partakers is summetochos in Greek; meaning "partner with", a co-participant or associate.
Fellowship with is sugkoinoneo in Greek; meaning to share in company with, co-participate in, communicate with, or be partaker of.
Reprove is elegcho in Greek; meaning to confute, admonish, convict, convince, tell a fault, or rebuke.

'Them' refers to the sexually immoral, impure, and greedy in verses 3-6. Christians should gladly receive repentant sinners into their "koinoneo", but should reprove and bar unrepentant sinners from their fellowship until they repent. "Love the sinner; hate the sin" is a false, non-biblical statement. Regarding unbelievers we are commanded to love our enemies and to love our neighbor by being compassionate toward them and meeting their physical needs if possible, and by telling them their spiritual need of forgiveness of sin is fulfilled through relationship with Jesus. We are commanded to love the brethren and reprove those members who are walking in darkness, disfellowshipping them for a season if necessary to bring them to repentance.

1 John 1:5-10 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

If sin is blocking our relationship with the Father, then the brethren should block our fellowship with them until we return to obedience to the Father. Our natural tendency is to cover our sins and blame others for them, as Adam and Eve demonstrated in the garden. It is to our shame to make it acceptable for Christians to smile through greetings and meetings while harboring sins in their hearts. We cover our sins with social pleasantries, and blame any sinful behaviors, which poke through our well-rehearsed mannerisms, on our parents or other authorities. Jesus described the church as a place to reckon with sins (Matthew 18). Christians do commit sins and need to confess them to brethren who will forgive them and support them in their efforts to obey Jesus. After initial repentance and baptism has cleansed us, we still need to have confession of sin and foot washings. "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean. (John 13:10)"

1 John 2:4 "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Love and intentional harm (maliciously crossing someone's boundaries or commands) don't mix. Relationships and lies can not co-exist. Lies break relationships and can only be restored by telling the truth and receiving forgiveness. God will not relate to us on the basis of lies. He regrets that people choose to deny their sin and need of a forgiveness (in essence, they're calling God a liar), but He allows them to make those choices.

1 John 2:10-11 "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
Loveth is agapao in Greek, meaning to love (in a social or moral sense).
Hateth is miseo in Greek, meaning to detest (especially to persecute).

Notice that this love of the brethren is not the phileo love of friends, but the mentally and morally determined love of those "called according to one purpose" in Christ. This love is the choice to support other believers in their relationships with Jesus. To persecute or to undermine a believer's faith in Jesus would be to hate them. To not accept a believer because of ethnicity, social/financial status, or non-fundamental doctrine or practice based upon Scripture, would be to detest them. We are all "accepted in the Beloved" by grace through faith, not by works. But acceptance of those who rebelliously sin against the Lord they claim to love, is detrimental to the Body as well as to the habitual sinner. Real love demands the rebellious, habitual sinner to repent in order to be restored to fellowship with the saints.


I think Jesus gave us very clear methods of separating light and darkness in Matthew 18. First Jesus establishes who church members are in verses 1-5 (those who humbly trust Him). Next, the church should protect its members from those who would harm them or their faith (v.6-7). Those who do sin against Christ's members have the responsibility to take drastic measures to stop themselves (v.8-10). If the believer is led astray by one who sins, the Father will find the believer and bring him back into right fellowship (v. 12-14)

If a brother sins against you, it is your responsibility to privately discuss it in hopes he will repent (v.15). If he won't listen, bring a couple witnesses to verify what is said (v16). If he won't listen, tell it to the "church" (two or three other believers who know this brother), and if he still won't repent, the group determines to no longer treat him as a fellow believer, but a traitor (tax collector v.17). This decision is also binding in heaven, but if he repents, he can be forgiven (loosed v.18). This decision should be made in prayer in the presence of the Lord (v.19-20), remembering that true Christians will forgive their repentant brother (v.21-35).

A further note on verse 20, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." There are various manifestations of Jesus' presence with His church. First we must be the church as Jesus defined it: two or more coming together only in His Name, not gathering together in the name of a pastor or a denomination or an experience. The primary manifestations of His Presence with us is our love for Him (demonstrated by our obedience - John 14) and our love for one another (expressed with joy and fruitfulness- John 15). When God's church is manifesting His life, then His Holy Spirit convinces the world (unsaved) of their sin, Christ's righteousness, and the devil's judgment (John 16:5-11). It would be unfair to the unrepentant brother to be judged merely by people without God's presence and authority to convict him of sin. The real reason church discipline is almost non-existent is because we rarely gather together under Christ's sole authority with His Spirit to guide us.

Are we truly meeting in the name of Jesus, or are we attempting to glorify a method or a man? Are we truly loving God and one another, or are we just trying to piously do church "right" so that no one can correct us? Jesus didn't die for buildings or religious systems, He died to bring us into righteous relationships with Himself and each other ("that they may be one in Us" - John 17), and He has made us His ambassadors of this wonderful message (2 Cor. 5:11-21). Though we should be diligent to separate from "Christians" in sinful lifestyles according to the Bible, it is with the purpose and hope of eventual reconciliation.

Married couples sometimes go through a period of separation due to sin. They remain legally married though they are no longer fellowshipping with each other. Then either there is repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation; or the separation is made legally binding and permanent through divorce. There are members of Christ's Bride who have separated themselves from Jesus ("lost connection with the Head" - Col. 2:18-19), and we are to be messengers of reconciliation; confessing sins to one another, forgiving one another, and accepting one another. But if one who calls himself "brother" refuses to repent of sin, then the church has the awesome responsibility to make his apostasy (apostasia - divorce) binding by refusing fellowship. There are couples who divorce and remarry the same person again, so I feel there is hope.

When Jesus described church, it was a group of believers who functioned like a jury listening to witnesses and determining whether or not to cease fellowship with a "rebellious believer". Both times Jesus mentions church, he mentions the legal terms of binding and loosing. No longer would legally binding (or loosing) decisions be made by "the elders in the gate", but by the whole community of believers. Jesus' description of church sounds more like "family court" to me; a place to resolve problems and restore relationships.

In some families, every night it seems there are relationships to restore. In other families, it seems everyone has something wonderful to share about their day. I think church is a mixture of restoring relationships (to Jesus and to one another) and sharing the wonderful things Jesus has done in and through our lives. We are the family of God our Father, and we can expect all the wonderful ups and downs of family life to be expressed in our midst. What makes us family is that we are all born of one Father and must answer to Him for all our words and deeds. The sibling rivalry gets tough at times, but the love of the brethren can cover a multitude of sins.

[1] Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, deluxe second edition. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1983, p. 1608.

© 1997 L. Eve Engelbrite