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Church Discipline: Part 9

October 6, 2009

Church Discipline: Part 9

There are still several questions to answer in regards to church discipline and I want to answer each of these in a little more detail so that we have a fuller understanding of this most biblically important topic and sensitive issue. One such issue to think about is that many want church discipline in theory to be obedient to Christ and His word but don’t want it in practice. Why is this?

Several reasons seem to be the reason. First, human nature has an internal knowledge that we are all guilty of sin. And we all are very uncomfortable with the idea of being exposed for our failures. So we easily have a desire to want to shy away from any practice such as church discipline that may hold us accountable and expose our sin before others. No one likes the idea of being shamed. This is especially true in today’s society that constantly promotes that idea that shame and guilt are bad and that the individual is not to be disturbed in their freedom of choices. What does this mean? To the average American it means if I am doing something that others don’t agree with, then it is more of a shame for you to mention it as wrong than it is shameful for me to engage in the shameful behavior.

It is ironic how society has changed in the last 75 years or so. It used to be people would avoid certain activities, choices, etc due to the shame associated with the act and due to the fact that someone was likely to call you out even in public on your shameful behavior and expose you. But this is no longer the mindset. The modern individual is taught by society that if they observe sinful, shameful behavior that they, the observer, are the ones to feel guilty and shameful. How has this been adopted? Because we have been told constantly that it is wrong to judge anyone for anything. The fact that we observe someone in shameful acts and they feel comfortable with committing these shameful acts means that we are the ones who are ‘wrongfully judging’ and holding on to a ‘biased’ view of life.

So here’s the scenario in modern eyes: You seem someone involved in a sinful act in public. You look and ‘stare’ at the person(s) involved and then when they look back, YOU are the one that feels embarrassed. Why do you feel embarrassed and yet they seem very comfortable in their shameful act? It’s because we have bought society’s lies about sin, shame, and accountability. We are taught to feel guilty while they sinful act is to be celebrated in the name of ‘freedom of choice, personal dignity and being true to themselves.” How dare you, society teaches, impose your values and judgments on others? Everyone has the inherent right and freedom to live and choose what they want that makes them happy.

There are two major faults with this thinking: 1) God says what is right and what is wrong, not man. 2) Even if this is society’s ethic, what basis does it stand on? What’s the evidence that is the way it ‘ought’ to be? In other words, what is their foundation for their view of sin, guilt, and shame? Nothing. And here is where we need to lovingly call them to account for their lack of ethical basis. And it’s where we ourselves need to repent of adopting this excuse making, comfortable lifestyle choosing mindset and embrace God’s view of loving accountability for our lives and our church. And we need to adopt loving, restoration-minded but accountable church discipline.

I want to say more about this next week about how restoring a biblical concept of sin, guilt, shame, and accountability in the church, especially through church discipline, will also return human dignity and value to society and stop much abuse of power.

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