What About Church Discipline?

The church, at times, must exercise discipline toward members who have sinned. Granted it is not done much, but why do you suppose? Could it be that people take the words of Jesus (about not judging, or getting the plank out of your own eye first) to keep us silent on correcting a fellow believer? Perhaps we don’t do it because we are very aware of our own sinfulness and failures to talk to someone else about their sin. But according to the Bible, church discipline must be handled carefully, straightforwardly, and lovingly.

The situations we find:

  1. Unintentional error and/or private sin.
  2. Public sin and/or those done flagrantly and arrogantly.

The steps we follow: (Matthew 18:15-17)

  1. Go to the brother or sister, show the fault to him or her in private.
  2. If he/she does not listen, go with one or two witnesses.
  3. If he/she refuses to listen, take the matter before the church.

The strategy we foster:

  1. Remove the one in error from the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:2-13).
    1. The sin of others should bring on mourning and shame (1 Corinthians 5:2).
    2. The offender should be removed from the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:2).
    3. The church calls a meeting (1 Corinthians 5:4).
    4. The unrepentant person is to be thrown to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5).
    5. What? Why? A little bit of yeast affects the whole lump of dough (1 Corinthians 5:6, 7).
    6. Don’t pal around with people who indulge in sexual sin (1 Corinthians 5:9, 11).
    7. It is the responsibility of the church to judge believers who are sinning (1 Corinthians 5:12).
  2. The church gives united disapproval, but forgiveness and comfort are in order if he/she chooses to repent (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).
    1. Oppose the offender, but after the discipline, you must,
    2. Forgive and comfort him lest he get discouraged (2 Corinthians 2:7).
    3. Then affirm your love for him (2 Corinthians 2:8).
  3. Do not associate with the disobedient person; and if you must, speak to him/her as one who needs a warning (2 Thessalonians 3:14,15).
  4. After two warnings, reject the person from the fellowship (Titus 3:10).

Tough stuff, but how much is the marriage or the family of another man worth? When you see the dead end lifestyle and the failures in a professing believer, how can we not intervene, warn or sound the alarm? It’s not an issue of our superiority over the failing person, or that we have it all together, but it is an act of love and kindness to confront a man with his destructive habits or marital infidelity. Reach out a hand when you see a man about to step onto a slippery slope that brings tragedy and regret.

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