Shelby G. Floyd
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.—Galatians 2:9 KJV
THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP
FELLOWSHIP WITH THE DEVIL
FELLOWSHIP WITH SIN
Sin is a transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Sin also involves an omission of our duty (James 4:17). Participation in things unauthorized by the word of God involves sin (Romans 14: 23). The Christian as far as humanly possible is to walk in the light as Christ is in the light, and to keep himself from sin. To this end the apostle Paul wrote his son in the faith, and preacher of the gospel, young Timothy, advising him to: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: Keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5: 22).
In this verse the word “partaker” is from the word koinoneo—a present imperative verb meaning, “to enter into fellowship, join one’s self as an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner” (Cf. Thayer, pg. 351-352). Some today are saying that fellowship involves a state and not an act. They say that once one enters into a state of fellowship with God and God’s people, there is nothing that one can do to break that fellowship. According to I Timothy 5: 22, when one commits or condones the sins engaged in by other persons, he is a partaker of their sins.
The present imperative verb “partaker,” means that Timothy was to keep on not being a partaker of other men’s sins. When one engages in acts of sin, or in any way bids God speed to those who are engaged in acts of sin, then that one becomes a partner, an associate, and partakes of his evil deeds. “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 11). Therefore, if one has fellowship with other men’s sins, he thereby severs and breaks his fellowship with God.
To have fellowship with sin is to have fellowship with darkness. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth” (1 John 1: 6). Neither can one be in fellowship with other men’s sins and be in fellowship with God’s people who are not in fellowship with other men’s sins. To be in fellowship with other men’s sins is to walk in darkness, but we cannot have fellowship with God’s people by walking in darkness. It is only when, “. . . 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” (1 John 1: 7). Therefore, being a partaker of other men’s sins causes one to lose his fellowship with God and with God’s people who are walking in the light.
In the last book of the Bible the apostle John heard a voice from heaven, probably that of an angel, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18: 4). The word “partakers” in this verse is from sunkoinoneo, a first aorist subjunctive verb meaning, “to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing,” and is used in Revelation 18: 4, with a dative of the thing in which one has fellowship, which would be sin (Cf. Thayer, pg. 593). This seems to be an allusion to the ancient Babylon in the Old Testa¬ment into which God’s people were taken into bondage, and later released and allowed to go back to the city of Jerusalem.
Babylon, in the Old Testament was typical of the apostate church involving the papacy into which many of God’s people went when they left the truth of the apostles. Therefore, the voice from heaven exhorted God’s people to separate themselves from the false doctrine and vices characteristic of the apostate church in order that they might not have fellowship with their sins. One has fellowship with sin when one engages in or endorses false doctrine and practice. Therefore, one can only break his fellowship with sin by coming out from those engaged in such. This thought is exactly parallel with Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians to separate themselves from idolatry,
“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 believethwith and 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 will be a Father unto you, and ye shall by my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6: l4-18).
In commenting on these verses, J. W. McGarvey said, “Then, by a series of short, terse questions he shows the utter folly, the inconsistency and incongruity of every form of alliance which entangles the children of God with the children of the devil. The world has not so improved, and Satan has not so repented, as to in any way nullify, or even weaken, the weight and applicability of this apostolic warning.”
God hates sin. “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness” (Proverbs 15: 9). The devil is the author of sin, having sinned from the beginning. He who keeps on living a life of sin has fellowship with the devil (Cf. 1 John 3: 8). When one has fellowship with sin and darkness, he absolutely does not have fellowship with God and the children of God who are walking in the light. In order to maintain fellowship with God one must not partake of sin. Paul says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). Instead of partaking of other men’s sins, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them” (Ephesians 5: 7).To have fellowship with God we must walk in the light and truth and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord (Cf. Hebrews 12: 14).
QUESTIONS ON THE LESSON
1. Discuss the Bible definition of sin.
2. In what way does one become partaker of other men’s sins?
3. Can one have fellowship with God while partaking of other men’s sins? Discuss
4. Explain how one is out of fellowship with God’s people when he is a partaker of other
5. When one is a partaker of the sins of others how is this situation to be remedied?
6. Can one have fellowship with God and his people while partaking of false religion?
7. Discuss Paul’s statement in 2 Cor. 6: 14-18, in light of the present day tolerance concerning the various religious organizations.
8. With whom does one have fellowship that habitually lives a life of sin?
9. How can we maintain our fellowship with God and his people?
10. What is God’s attitude toward them that practice wickedness? Righteousness?
1 John 3:4
4Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. NKJV
1 Timothy 5:21-22
22Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
2 John 8-11
9Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
1 John 1:6-7
6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
4Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”
Ephesians 5:6, 11
7Therefore do not be partakers with them.
11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
Copyright © 2002, 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142