Circumventing Church Discipline


An Examination of “Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed”

Expanded Edition

Robert Wurtz II

Then tidings came to Joab: for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom. And Joab fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told king Solomon that Joab was fled unto the tabernacle of the LORD; and, behold, he is by the altar. Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, Go, fall upon him. (I Kings 2:28-29)

Joab had conspired against Solomon to bring Adonijah into power. Fearing for his life he made a last-ditch effort to save his skin. What did he do? He ran to the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar. This was a practice established under the law as a means of offering temporary asylum to those who had killed someone until it could be rightly determined whether the act was accidental, justified or murder. If the act was accidental or justifiable the killer was instructed to flee to a city of refuge where the avenger of blood could not pursue them (Numbers 35:10-34). However, if a person presumed to go into the tabernacle to take hold of these horns to avoid just punishment they were to be taken away even from the altar (Deuteronomy 19:4-14 Exodus 21:14). In other words, Exodus 21:14 kept Numbers 35:10-34 from being abused and Exodus 20:13 (Thou Shalt Not Murder) or any other capitol offense from being circumvented. Joab clearly abused the practice of “taking hold of the horns of the altar” so Solomon commanded that he be struck down- even before the altar.

A Satanic Doctrine

Likewise, in the churches of God, we are commanded and expected to deal with threats to the churches and to do so with the utmost care and resolve. God (not man) established the doctrine of church discipline and He expects that doctrine to be carried out. Why? For the protection of the saints and the salvation of the sinner. Understand that no matter who a person supposes themselves to be — they are subject to church discipline. That means everyone without exception. There are no special people in the Kingdom of God who are above the laws of God. In fact, we are told in Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, and Galatians 2:6 that God is no respecter of persons no matter who they are promoted to be.

Believe it or not there are people who move within the churches who think they are special and chosen — insomuch that God has their back and will curse those who speak against them. To most of us this sounds like lunacy and devilry, but nevertheless they are there. How do we deal with these self-styled “special” and “chosen” people? We deal with them the same way we would the janitor in the church or the sinner who just joined it. God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t have a set of laws for the “chosen ones” and another set for everyone else. 

No doctrine can be allowed to circumvent church discipline. Many may call themselves ‘prophets’ of ‘prophetesses’ or even apostles, but that proclamation is no exemption from church discipline. There are no free passes for deceivers and sinners in the Kingdom of God.

Touch Not the Anointed?

We have all heard the stories about some poor soul who dared to “touch the Lord’s anointed” and his house caught on fire or he fell over dead the next day. Nonsense! If we were to sit down and draw a line from tragic events to people in this way we could make the Devil look like a saint and have a story to prove it. These falsehoods not only need to be rejected… they need to be repented of and renounced utterly. The anecdotal justifications for such false teachings abound and poor ignorant souls sit and tremble in fear lest they be cursed for touching one of these self-styled anointed ones. 

What happened? Circumstantial horror stories are used to spark the fear of God in people so that that fear can be transferred to a man (or woman) making them untouchable. The people teaching it don’t even have the wisdom to see that the doctrine itself has brought a curse. The old timers used to speak of lies that were “hatched out of hell.” This is one of them. I suggest that one of the most destructive and diabolical lies of our generation is “touch not the Lord’s anointed.” It has produced scores of false teachers and sinners who believe they are above reproach, church discipline or even criticism. Understand that people are all too willing to pull snippets of scripture and doctrine from the Old Testament that are convenient for their purposes. If “touch not the Lord’s Anointed” was merely a typical example of such nonsense it would be one thing, but this is far more severe and dangerous. 

Every scripture has a context and without it… you have a pretext. Consider this line of reasoning from three snippets from the New Testament … “Judas went and hanged himself” … “Go and do thou likewise” … “Whatsoever you do — do quickly.” This may seem comical but this is how the Old Testament is frequently abused. What about “touch not the Lord’s anointed?” God set in order a precept in the Old Testament to protect prophets, priests, and kings from abuse. He issued a warning against those that would come against the ones that He had ordained to His service (Psalm 105:15). 

However, when David sinned with Bathsheba he understood that he deserved the death penalty. Kings were not exempt. Prophets were not exempt and priests were not exempt. In fact, if a so-called prophet were to give a false prophecy he was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:5). Just like the case of Joab, God’s word has within itself safeguards to make sure that no principal or truth can be abused or exploited. For the false prophet and the adulterous king “touch not the Lord’s anointed” did not apply to them and could not save them in the day of their sin no more than the horns of the altar could save Joab.   

Heretical and Sinful Leaders

“Touch not the Lord’s anointed” is creating monsters in the church. We are commanded in Titus 3:10-11 to reject a heretic after the second warning and to note and shun people who do not follow the doctrine Paul set forth (2 Thess. 3:14). Don’t fellowship with them or eat with them. Paul warned us in 1 Corinthians 5 to put wicked fornicators out of the church until they repent. In other words, these destroyers of the churches don’t need just ‘touched’ they need to be excommunicated in some cases. Jesus congratulated the church at Ephesus for condemning false apostles as liars (Revelation 2:2). There can be little doubt that these men professed themselves to be ‘anointed’- not just ‘anointed’ but apostles! This is how they established themselves. It is the enemies strategy. 

There is no such thing in the New Testament as a sinner or heretic being under God’s special protection because someone believes they are or were at some point in their life anointed (like king Saul). If a person is causing destruction in the churches they must be dealt with no matter what their name or title is. I don’t care if they raised a thousand people from the dead — they are still subject to church discipline. Period. End of story. 

Only Satan could make acquiescing to lies and deceit appear nobel and biblical. He has provided the proof texts for the green light many in the churches are giving these deceivers and sinners. Prosperity peddlers, false prophets, adulterers and a host of other compromises and lies today are holding the horns of the altar as did Joab whilst pushing around the voices of Truth as did Zedekiah. Yet Solomon stated, “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD”(Proverbs 17:15). It is an abomination to allow lies and deceit to go on in order that the so-called “anointed” would not be touched. And it is an insult to God and man to condemn people who would seek to deal with the so-called anointed with “touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Sadly, many are handing the wolves the keys to the chicken house thinking they are doing God a service. It has to end. This doctrine must once-and-for-all be rejected, repented of, and renounced as the diabolical error and falsehood that it is and for the inexpressible evil that it has already caused. Perchance much future damage and destruction might be avoided. 

Dealing With Gross Sin in the Churches

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11 NKJV)
There is hardly a year that goes by that some scandal involving one of the sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 does not rear its ugly head in the churches. On a national and local level, we face catastrophe that in many cases could have been avoided, and in all cases must be Biblically handled. However, there is far too often an epic lapse in discernment that enables the scandalous to embed themselves like sleeper cells waiting to ambush the saints. By the time they are discovered, most of these people have already gathered a following that remain as loyal subjects, whether the scandalous person repents of their sins or not. This always causes incalculable damage to the churches.
Sometimes genuine saints will fall into sin, but other times we are dealing with people who were never born again to begin with. They pretended to be saints and may have even fooled themselves… but if you ask them they have no conversion narrative. That is to say, they have no convincing testimony of how Christ brought them out of sin and made them a new creature. Some speak of being saved since childhood and at the same time admit they were in total bondage to sin all their life. How can this be? We might also ask, “Who is responsible for these phenomena in the churches?”
Jesus answers that question in the parable of the wheat and the tares. We have a clue in the words, “…while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” (Matthew 13:25 NKJV) Jesus says that the enemy sows these people into the church. They are imposters who “look” like wheat (as it were), but are really the deadly Darnell (tares). Understand that Darnell can be infected with bacteria that causes confusion, loss of consciousness, and even death. In ancient times, spies would sow Darnell into their enemies’ fields to contaminate food supplies. Paul uses the illustration of leaven in bread to demonstrate how scandal can affect the entire local church. These considerations are why the people involved in scandal must be properly dealt with.
In our text Paul is writing to the Corinthians who had experienced individually genuine regeneration. This was not merely a mental assent to a creed or the throwing away of a few bad habits. As a consequence of turning to God in true repentance and trusting Christ — they had consciously received the Spirit. They were reborn. In other words, they were no longer “Darnell” they were genuine “wheat.” As Paul told them in his letter, “You were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” The former things had passed away and all had become new. They were new creatures in Christ.
When Paul showed up at Corinth, he came across people who were bound up with all kinds of sin. Notice how he reminds them of their unsaved condition when he wrote, Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. Paul wanted the people at Corinth to inherit the kingdom of God. He wanted them reconciled to God and to remain in a state of fellowship. However, they were practicing fornicators, idolators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves and a host of other damnable things. In order for Paul to be able to say, “… and such were some of you…” something very radical needed to happen to them.
Paul loved the people too much to make excuses for sins that would ultimately destroy their souls; so, he preached genuine repentance to everyone. This means he expected the people to agree with God’s estimate of sin and then turn from it — forever. In fact, it was the preaching of repentance that Paul gave as the reason why the Jews caught him in the Temple and tried to kill him (Acts 26:21). Understand the predicament: Paul wanted all people to enter the kingdom of God — but some of the people at Corinth were practicing sins that he warned them time and again would exclude them from the kingdom. What did he do? He preached to them until he could say with confidence, “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
In the twenty-first century, we are plagued with the scourge of “political correctness.” It is the enemies’ cat-of-nine-tails in our times. Sin is a lifestyle these days. When a minister or Christian challenges sin they are subject to the scourging. We should expect this from the world. People simply don’t want to be told that their lifestyle is wrong or sin. They definitely don’t want to be told they will go to Hell for the “lifestyle.” What happens? The minister or Christian is told “not to judge” or some other nonsense designed to allow the sinner to go on with their lifestyle. In other words, the enemy wants damnable sin normalized and accepted. Why wouldn’t he? That’s his business. He wants as many people in Hell as he can possibly get. What better way to do it than to normalize damnable sin and seal the sinners’ fate with the scourge of political correctness? It’s a very effective strategy.
Paul encountered gross scandal at Corinth. It was the same “type” of sin that often shows up today, sexual immorality. It comes in many forms. It can be adultery, homosexuality, promiscuity, or in the case of the Corinthian… incest. A man had actually been having sexual relations with his fathers’ wife. We don’t know the grizzly details, but Paul took swift action to death with it. He refused to allow this type of sin (sexual immorality) to become normalized in the church. Soon others would have been encouraged to do similar things. What did he do? He employed the measure of binding and loosing that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18:18. Not in the way it is found in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, but in the proper sense of the measure church discipline. 

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)
Paul did not want the saints to fellowship with any person who is called a brother (or sister) who was involved in damnable sin. This did not apply to fellowship with unbelievers — it applied only to people who considered themselves Christians. The Holy Spirit gave this command through Paul as a measure in dealing with gross sin in the church. It accomplished at least two things:
1. It protected the people from the influence of the sin so that it did not spread throughout the church.
2. It created a scenario where the sinning Christian would be forced to consider the ramifications of their actions. There is no future in the kingdom of God for a person who practices damnable sins.
“For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:3–5 NKJV)
In order to further set into motion corrective action Paul instructed the church to gather together and in the power of the Holy Spirit and under the authority of God — turn the person over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (body). “Paul speaks of his own physical suffering as a messenger (aggelos) of Satan. Paul certainly means expulsion from the church (verse 2) and regarding him as outside of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph. 2:11f.). But we are not to infer that expulsion from the local church means the damnation of the offender. The wilful offenders have to be expelled and not regarded as enemies, but admonished as brothers (2 Thess. 3:14f.). For the destruction of the flesh (eis olethron teœs sarkos). Both for physical suffering as in the case of Job (Job 2:6) and for conquest of the fleshly sins, remedial punishment. That the spirit may be saved (hina to pneuma soœtheœi).” (A.T. Robertson) The ultimate purpose of the expulsion is discipline with a view to Godly sorrow and repentance.
In modern times this type of approach is generally shunned by the offender. This is why true repentance is so rare. They fall in with the politically correct crowd who comfort them right into the arms of Satan and Hell itself. All the while being congratulated for their courage. What madness! Many actually enjoy the attention they get for “coming out of the closet.” But this is the deception. They offer up all kinds of cynical and rebellious phrases such as, “I was kicked to the curb” or “the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally failed me.” However, this is Satan’s rhetoric and jargon — not God’s. Soon they embrace people who will accept their sinful lifestyle and they go on unrepentant and rebellious. They call the people who accept their sin as those who love them “unconditionally” while the people who truly love them have probably followed Paul’s directives of non-fellowship.
Understand that love is always conditional. Agape love does not mean “unconditional love” in the sense that it is often preached. Agape means the type of love that God displayed in sending Christ to die for our sins. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This is not the same as loving and accepting people who ultimately refuse to repent while trodding the blood of Christ under foot or even blaspheming the Holy Spirit. To tell a person that God loves them unconditionally is to suggest He will accept them in their sinful lifestyle. This is not only false, it is a diabolical lie intended to damn souls. God’s love for sinners’ is displayed on the cross of Calvary… if that be rejected the person will be subject to how God “feels” about Satan and his angels. Is that clear enough? We have an immortal soul that is going to live on somewhere for all eternity. We ought to dismiss the sentimental notions of God that infect our times like a plague and consider our souls destiny.
However, there was a happy ending to the scandal at Corinth. For we read that, “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
(2 Corinthians 2:6–11 NKJV)
When a person who has been caught in a damnable sin is truly repentant we must be swift to receive them back into fellowship. It is Satan’s device to either prevent repentance or to overwhelm those who are repentant with excessive and destructive grief. He wants to destroy people… and it is our responsibility as spiritual Christians to prevent it by following carefully the directives of scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit.