Question:

What do you say about guilt by association in the fellowshiping problem? We have some friends who worship in a congregation that had someone at their lectureships, although they do don't support marriage with intent and when he speaks they didn't go to support him. Now we do not believe this person's doctrine, but is it wrong to fellowship our friends and how far do you carry guilt by association? Thanks so much I really enjoy the sermons

Answer:

"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).

The Bible teaches that there is no justification by association, nor is there guilt by association. Each person is judged by who he is, not by who is around him.

You would think that Jesus settled that matter when the Pharisees accused Jesus of sin because of who he associated with. "And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance"" (Mark 2:16-17).

While I would have problems remaining with a congregation that invites known false teachers in for lectures, I also remember that while Sardis was a nearly spiritually dead church, it still had a few faithful members (Revelation 3:1-6). Your friends did not agree with have this person at the lectures. They did not go when this person was teaching. Yet, you are holding them guilty of what other people are doing and teaching.

Thanks for reply on guilt by association. One more question, we are isolated here as we got tied up with what I thought was a sound group who say you do not fellowship with someone who has fellowship with a known false teacher. We would like to go to a lectureship but a person who teaches marriage with intent has preached there in a lectureship and now a person who is in fellowship with this brother will be speaking on it. We have been told we cannot fellowship the lectureship due to the fact the one speaking in it has dealings with the one who teaches marriage with intent doctrine. They say we would be guilty by association. We really like to go, but we want to do things right. Thanks again.

The only thing we are told not to do is give support to a false teacher, even to the extent of giving them an encouraging greeting. "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds" (II John 10-11). Please note that this is direct dealings.

The question is whether the person is teaching is spreading false doctrine. If he is, you don't give support to that person. It doesn't mean you can't talk to him to attempt to persuade him out of his error. You don't judge him by who he talks to. Yet, if he finds nothing wrong with a noted false teacher, then you might have a problem on your hand because he doesn't recognize false teaching when he sees it.