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Church Discipline: Part 10

October 23, 2009

Church Discipline: Part 10

                I want to continue on the concept of how church discipline actually restores human dignity to the individual as a ‘person’. Ideas have consequences and we are naïve to think that denying church discipline as our Lord defines it and commands it will not have any negative effects on the church, people, and society.

                Society’s view of accountability is not what God’s word teaches. As a matter of fact, the church’s view of accountability in relation to church discipline is mirrored by society’s law system. How many times today do you hear unrelenting criminals continue to commit crimes before they are FINALLY dealt a strong penalty to deter their behavior? It is much the same today in churches. We are NOT to look for any and every little sin but how often have you known of churches that have tolerated sin so much that they have even thrown baby showers for an unwed church member?  

                So how does church discipline come in to the mix not only helping our churches from sinful practices but also helping restore true human dignity and moral accountability? First and foremost Jesus lays the cultural climate of any society at the foot of the church’s doorstep. “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.” Our Lord clearly shows that as the church goes so the society goes. We should not blame pagans for being pagans. It is all they know to do. When they suppress the truth of God’s word and morals to fit their own agendas it should not surprise us. This is exactly what the bible says they will do. (See Romans 1:18ff) So if society is tasteless, it is because the church has failed to be tasteful.

                If the church will not lovingly hold its members accountable, we know that society, which has fewer morals than the church, is not going to do any better. However when the church is obedient as a whole this attitude permeates society and acts as a restraining grace upon the evil of natural man. What does this mean? It means that through the example of the church in moral accountability and the spread of her influence through every day life that society will in some ways conform to the high standard that the church sets. If we want Washington D.C. to have better morals and accountability, then the church needs to set the pattern by obeying Christ’s command of practicing biblical, restoration-minded church discipline.

                How does church discipline restore human dignity? By showing that man is a morally responsible because he is endowed with a free will. He is not a determined biological machine as the evolutionists would want us to believe. He is not an environmentally controlled animal as the secular psychologists want us to think. No, man is a moral creature made in the image of God who has ability to think, reason, feel, and choose. But with these gifts from God, man is also accountable to his Creator with what he does with these gifts. Having church discipline reminds people that they are not victims of their biology or environment but truly free willing moral creatures who have dignity in the sight of God as those who make real choices and effect real outcomes.

                By acknowledging and showing man his true guilt then it becomes possible to show man his true rescue – the blood and righteousness of the perfect God-Man, Jesus Christ. Our Lord came to restore dignity and one of the things He put in place based on His atonement for sin was loving church discipline. If church discipline is part of our salvation in regards to sanctification, then it is to our loss of our humanity if we did not follow our Lord’s instructions in seeing the image of God restored in fallen man.

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