Dealing With a Sinning Brother
In dealing with a sinning brother in the church, Christ instructed, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).
Christ’s instruction emphasizes the need to first solve issues privately. But if the sinner will not admit his wrongdoing and change his evil actions. Then, the church will counsel the sinning brother. The Hebrew law teaches that no man should be punished on the testimony of one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15) for there are two sides to every disagreement, and both must have a just hearing before a decision can be made.
If the sinning brother chooses not to heed the church’s admonition, he cuts himself from the church. Then, the leadership after bearing witness to the efforts that have been put forth on his behalf may disfellowship him. By expelling the sinning brother from the church, the body of Christ would become cleansed from his corrupting influences. And the members would receive the changing graces of the Holy Spirit.
This does not mean that the disfellowshiped member should be neglected. Redeeming attempts should be done to restore him into the fold. But the members should be careful when associating with him so that they don’t make it appear that they sympathize with his weaknesses, nor should they get involved with him in his sinful deeds.
The Sexually Immoral Member at Corinth
It was reported to the apostle Paul that the church at Corinth had a sexually immoral member (1 Corinthians 5:1). The surprising thing was that the church members were self-complacent, instead of feeling shame that such wickedness existed among them.
So, Paul instructed them that the person living in such deliberate and evil immorality should be expelled from the church (1 Corinthians 5:4,5). Church discipline is intended to show the sinning brother his dangerous state and his need for repentance. This persistent sinner had, by his own sinful act, withdrawn himself from the kingdom of God, and this was to be recognized by his official expulsion.
Paul explained the need for the expulsion saying, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6,7). God does not bless His people when they knowingly permit open transgression of His law to continue among them (Joshua 7:1, 5, 11, 12; Acts 5:1–11).
All who accept redemption through the Son of God are obligated by their confession of faith in Him to be pure, “even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3). The perfect example of godly living had been given them in Jesus, and their characters should have been example of victory over sin by the power of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4–8).
To keep the sinning brother in the church because of a wish to help him to reform, ignores the danger of spreading His evil influence to the other members. It is often more helpful to the evil individual to separate from the church so as to let him see that his evil course of action is out of harmony with God’s high moral standard.
Having been corrected by his banishment, the church may reinvite the sinner to live a life of godliness. The aim of church discipline should never be hate but remedial. The disfellowshiped member should be shown deep concern and faithful efforts should be taken to bring him back to the love of Christ (Matthew 18:17; Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:1, 2; Hebrews 12:13).
In His service,
This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)