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Should A
Sinning Brother
Be Accepted
As A Deacon?

Should A Sinning Brother Be Accepted As A Deacon?

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
September, 1999

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Last updated:
September 2, 1999.

The apostle Paul writes, "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 3:10-13).

A deacon in the church of Christ is not one who makes decisions for the congregation, but rather carries out a specific function under the direction of the elders of that congregation.  The elders make decisions, and the deacons do jobs.  The deacons as well as the elders must have met certain qualifications before they were placed in office according to the Scriptures.  Often unqualified men are placed into offices so that a congregation may boast of having officers.  This should never happen, but it does.

If a man tries to beat his debts he sins (Romans 13:8).  If he lies he sins.  If he is verbally abusive to others he sins.  Obviously, if he attempts to rape someone he is not only a sinner but is a criminal, liable for prosecution by the laws of the land.  If a man is guilty of these, and has not repented and sought God's forgiveness, he is not only unfit to represent the believers (1 Timothy 4:12), but is a lost soul.  One whose soul is in jeopardy should be restored by honest Christians (Galatians 6:1; Luke 17:3,4).

If his bad reputation or lack of ability makes a person unfit for office, the leadership of the church should not place him in an office. Those who put unfit men into these positions commit sin themselves. The apostle gave Timothy a solemn charge concerning this, saying, "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.  Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure" (1 Timothy 5:21-22).

The congregation in Corinth was in great danger because they accepted an incestuous relationship.  It involved a man and his step-mother; this situation even the heathen did not allow.  The brethren not only tolerated it, but must have gloried in it.  The man involved must have been highly esteemed among them.  (See 1 Corinthians 5).  Erring brethren today must be confronted just as they were in Paul's day - souls are at stake!