Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
We are still progressing along in our study of dealing with “issues” in our local church bodies. Please, read the passages below, because an in depth look at them is not the plan here. They do, however, illustrate some powerful points in this series as we look at the issue of church discipline. Perhaps we should have covered this earlier, as it has a lot to do with the subject of confronting sin.
I hope we are in full agreement that some transgressions simply have to be confronted, and that fellow believers have every right and obligation to do just that. Here is the thing, though; not every offense we might find personally distasteful to us personally has to be confronted. Some things are clearly black and white in God’s Word. Some are not; some things are gray.
Sadly and unfortunately churches, and the people in them often make lists of “rules” that have to be followed among membership which simply aren’t necessarily based on what God’s Word tells us. So, on one end of the spectrum, we have legalism. Some churches, conversely, turn a blind eye to anything that may happen among the body. The other end of this spectrum, of course, is license. Legalism and license, both wrong and neither in accordance with God’s teachings.
If you like to watch R rated movies, is that really any of my business? On the other hand, if you are regularly seen exiting the local Porn theater, is that?
If you don’t do the dishes at home, is that my business? On the other hand, if you openly and notoriously cheat on our wife, is that?
You drink a glass of wine on occasion, is that really my business? On the other hand, you go out every weekend and get rip roaring drunk, is that?
Let’s say I have been a believer for 40 years, and you were saved just yesterday. Might the expectation of maturity and behavior be different for me after 40 years than it is for you after 24 hours?
I am not offering answers up there, merely asking questions and providing things to think about. How do we know? How can we tell the difference? Beats me. We certainly can’t know by our own understanding but have to apply the guiding and illumination of the Holy Spirit in all that we do. We always have to remember what we are out to do. We aren’t out to cast out the heathen and clean up our church act. We are out to bring the erring brother to repentance and restoration. If you are not aiming for that objective, then you may actually be the problem.