Relationship Primer for the Christian, Part Two – THE APOSTATE
In Part 1 we looked at the different types of people that Christians have to deal with out in the world. It would be nice if we only had to deal with other Christians who are walking a blessed and sanctifying path but we cannot be an island given our cosmic purpose; which is to advance the kingdom until it is full and complete with all of God’s chosen people.
Recap of the five types of people:
- “I am a Christian.” “I believe.”
- “I am not a Christian.” “I don’t believe.”
- “I was a Christian, but now I am not.” “I did believe, but now I don’t.”
- “I don’t understand what it means to be a Christian.”
- “I am a Christian, but I can’t stop this behavior.” “I do believe, but I don’t believe this is ever going to change.”
I want to focus in on number three, the apostate. This person was never truly a Christian. He was a pretender who now feels free to openly say, “I really don’t believe” where he once openly said that he believed. This person is different from the stuck-in-sin-believer, the unbeliever, or the curious-but-uncertain. This is a person who intentionally regaled the power of God and aligned himself with Christendom for his own gain and now sets himself determinately against the power (God, Christ, Holy Spirit) he once hailed.
There is hope for this person. God is as good as He is sovereign. He can turn that heart of stone into a heart of flesh as sure as He did yours or mine. He can draw that person. He can melt that resistance. God can call that apostate to repentance but there is one thing He will not do: God will not give His blessing for us to continue in fellowship with an apostate. He also makes no exception in His commands of separation if the apostate happens to be someone you dearly love; such as a child or parent. This is the hard and gut-wrenching part of life as a Christian. This is what it means to give up your life for Christ.
How can separation be loving? It’s not like I’m to blame for their decisions!
In a letter to a church member Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, helps the member understand how a Christian is supposed to process through the loss of a loved one who is now an avowed apostate:
“John, who had first-hand experience of relationship with the ultimate apostate, Judas, writes this in his second epistle:
2 John 6–11
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
Pastor Wilson continues…
“The matter is concerning deceivers – rejecters of Christ – who he calls ‘antichrist’ (against Christ). He tells all believers, ‘watch yourselves’ … ‘that you may not lose’. Yet, some [the apostate] will not listen (being both deceived and a deceiver) and will go ‘on ahead and … not abide’. Those are to be rejected. They are not to be welcomed in our homes – not open to any greeting (the common ‘God bless you’ would be inappropriate). And then this … to refuse our obedience to this commanded separation makes us culpable in the wickedness. Despite the pain it brings, we cannot be tempted to take part in such wickedness.
“In his first epistle – the same concerns:
1 John 2:18–19
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
1 John 4:1–3
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
“That is so clear – – we are talking about a person ‘that does not confess Jesus’ – ‘This is the spirit of the antichrist’ which ‘now is in the world already’.”
Could you separate from an avowed apostate?
I guess the better question is, “will you follow Jesus no matter how hard it is”? Could you look your beloved adult child in the face and tell them that you can no longer have anything to do with them, until such time as they repent of their sins against the Holy Father? Could you face the persecution of your family, friends and community railing against you as a psychotic monster with unnatural behavior?
Do you remember these words spoken by Jesus?
51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
51 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.
53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
How can I face the pain of separation?
Pastor Wilson continues his instruction with God’s word…
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
1 Peter 3:14–17
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 2:19
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
1 Peter 2:21–24
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
“I would just make this point – – THERE IS HEALING IN THE WOUNDS WE SUFFER. Healing for our spirit – strength for our soul … and healing for those who might see the injustice, our steadfast confidence, and by that, be strengthened themselves.” Pastor Steve Wilson
If you find yourself in this situation and you know you want to follow Christ into all eternity; trust Him. Get out of God’s way (be obedient) and pray for Him to do what only He can do, SALVATION. This is hard stuff and you shouldn’t attempt to do this alone. Go to your pastor, your elders and your Christian brothers and sisters. Weigh it all with scripture. God wasn’t just for yesteryear. He is for today and He is for us, the body of Christ. We have all the provision we need in His body.
For a more in-depth look at how the Christian ought to think about these things, I encourage you to listen to “Unless It Dies“, from Pastor Steve Wilson.