Summary: Following the directions provided by Jesus when another Christian sins against you.
A Brother Who Sins Against You
Matthew 18: 15-20
1. There is a big difference between knowing about God, and actually knowing God.
2. There are many people who know about God, but don’t actually know Him.
a. We can read and study the Bible.
b. We can have all kinds of documents highlighted.
c. We can pray and even attend Church.
d. We can have fellowship with other believers.
3. All of these things are very good to do, but they don’t guarantee that we actually know God.
4. So then, how can we be certain that we actually know God?
5. The essence of really knowing God is manifested in relationship.
6. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible and Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, says and I completely agree that, “We discover that we do not know God by defining Him, but by being loved by him and loving him in return.”
7. God has loved us by sending his son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save us from the wages of our sinful state. John 3:16 tells us this:
a. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
8. The question that remains for us is, “Do we love God?”
9. Jesus said, in John 14:21:
a. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
10. Therefore, we can be sure that we love God if we are obeying the commands and teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
11. Matthew 18: 15-20 provides some very clear and practical directions that Jesus tells us to follow when a Brother Sins Against Us.
12. This passage is the topic and focus for this message.
13. Follow along with me as I read Matthew 18:15-20 (I am reading from the NIV):
a. 15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ’every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[d] loosed in heaven. 19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
14. As we read this passage we may tend to focus on being vindicated for wrongs being done against us.
15. I believe, however, that there is a greater issue of concern at stake; and that issue is the need to maintain unity within the body of Christ.
16. What good is the Body or Christ to the world, if we don’t look or act any different than the people that are still in and of the world?
17. 1 Corinthians and Ephesians 4 are packed full of guidance on avoiding division and maintaining Unity in the Body of Christ.
18. People will not be drawn to the body of Christ, if they do not see the love of Christ being displayed among its members.
19. While our flesh may be screaming out for justice and vindication, when we are wronged, we must remember that there is a bigger picture.
20. We must remember that above all else, the primary goal is to show the love of Christ, and bring people into relationship with God through Christ.
21. We must also remember that God has not yet avenged the crucifixion of Christ, so what right do we have to be avenged for every wrong committed against us.
22. Jesus has given us this orderly process to follow to prevent division and maintain unity in the body, so that when sin does occur its damage to the body is minimized if not completely avoided.
23. We must also remember that if we do not follow these steps, and follow them in the exact sequence indicated by Jesus; then we do not love Jesus or at the very least we are not acting out of love for Him.
24. We must also acknowledge that if we do not follow these steps, then we are deliberately undermining the Holy Spirit who dwells with us as believers in Christ Jesus.