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Church Discipline: Part 3

August 3, 2009

Church Discipline: Part 3

                We continue this week with Matthew 18:15-20 in regards to understanding biblical church discipline. Again, it must be noted from the beginning that church discipline is a COMMAND of God and not an option for churches to ‘think’ about. We looked at 3 issues that the Matthew passage addressed: the sin must be clearly known before it is addressed, the person being corrected must be a professing Christian, and keep as few people involved as is necessary with the issue.

                Fourthly, Matthew 18:15-20 teaches us that the primary goal of correcting someone is so that we may ‘win our brother.’ (vs 15)  Any reason, other than this one being primary, is a fallacious reason to admonish others. Corrective church discipline seeks the welfare of the sinning/erring member above the “A-ha, I caught you doing something bad” motive. Again, this would coincide of why you show your brother his fault ‘in private’ (vs. 15)

                I don’t think any of us likes to be rebuked, but it certainly is a lot less painful when someone privately calls me aside, approaches me in gentleness, and then shows me my fault. I’ve had times when people have pointed out my wrongs in front of a crowd seeming only to want to show me up or degrade me for my wrongs. My heart was not too receptive of their ‘correction.’ It seemed to me that they were interested in showing themselves as ‘better than me’ while in front of others more than they were interested in my spiritual welfare.

                The grace of showing someone their sin in private reinforces the idea that you don’t have any agenda other than the benefit of the person involved.  So if someone sins, show them their fault in private. If you have a sinful urge to broadcast their sin to others who have no relation to the offence(s) involved, remember that ‘he who is without sin can cast the first stone.’

 

Fifthly, it is interesting to note that it does not leave church discipline solely to the responsibility to the leadership in the church. It says ‘you’ show him his sin in private. Every member is obligated to the Lord and to the other members to help preserve the holiness of conduct in the church. Does that mean everyone is to look for any and all sins in every members’ lives? No, we are not on a witch hunt. But neither are we to keep winking at sin in people’s lives that we know are damaging to that person’s walk with Christ and testimony of the church. YOU are to help guard the welfare of one another. YOU are to seek the benefit of your brother’s holiness.  And YOU are accountable before God for helping to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The blessed Holy Spirit will not work in a congregation when members are holding on to sin and when other members fail to seek to help lovingly bring those members to repentance by ‘showing them their fault in private.’ 

                If we do not lovingly admonish others in private about their sin we fail to love as Christ loves. Here are some typical reasons we don’t admonish others in private about their sin: 1) I do not like to confront others  2) Who am I to tell others about what happens in their private life? 3) It is the leaders of the church’s job to correct others. 4) If I point out their sin, they may point out my sin? 5) How do I know which sin(s) to point out?

                The only legitimate reason for pausing in confrontation is reason number 5. We will look at the issues we are to point out and which ones should be overlooked. Excuse four is more about self-protection than it is about being obedient. And if there is something going on in your life, then don’t sit there in passive disobedience by not lovingly confronting/helping your brother. Let it be a motivation to first take the log out of your own, so you can better see and help your brother take the log out his own eye.

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