Summary: The Bible teaches that when a member of the church errs in doctrine or conduct, the other members should hold him accountable and seek to restore him.
Becoming a Peacemaker in the Local Church
1. The words “disciple” and “discipline” come from the same root word which has to do with education or learning.
2. The church should be a place where learning is taking place so that believers can, in turn, become mature, Christ-like disciples. The local church should be a place where learning and living the Bible is natural and normal.
3. There should be an environment in the church that encourages learning and encourages demonstrating Christ-like maturity in our walk with the Lord.
4. Division, contention, discord, and unresolved conflicts are extremely detrimental in creating an atmosphere of learning and spiritual growth.
• Illustration: If a school classroom is full of fighting, bickering, chaos, and confusion, it creates a poor environment of learning. The same is true in a church.
5. This is why the Bible teaches that if there is a person or group of people that are threatening the unity of the church or the doctrinal soundness of the church, the members and leaders of that local body have a responsibility to deal with that individual and seek to restore peace to the local body.
6. Our God is not a God of chaos, but a God of order and structure. He expects His church to function this way. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40
7. The Bible teaches that when a member of the church errs in doctrine or conduct, the other members should hold him accountable and seek to restore him.
8. If that person refuses to listen and is determined to continue on the path of sin or discord, then the other members may have to separate themselves, and the leadership may have to ask him to remove himself from the local body. Romans 16:17-18;
• Keep in mind, this is after a lengthy process of attempted restoration.
9. Why is God so emphatic about this?
First, because the church is to maintain a testimony of unity and purity
1. Christ’s purpose for the church is to sanctify it and present it to himself without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:26-27). Everything in the church should aim towards this goal.
• The church is to be a light in a sin darkened world. Philippians 2:15
• Our life and our love should demonstrate to the world that we belong to Christ. John 13:35
2. If a church member is involved in serious misconduct or is creating contention and turmoil, this brings defilement to the church and its testimony. This is exactly what happened in the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 5:1
• Paul strongly reprimanded this man for his gross sin.
• Nothing was being done about it by the local body, so Paul also expressed his displeasure to the church for allowing such misconduct to continue. 5:2
3. Paul uses the illustration of leaven, which in the Bible is a picture of sin. He says, “Remove the leaven.” 5:6-7
• When it comes to matters such as these, the welfare of the church is at stake. Clearly, Paul taught that the leaven was to be cleaned out. The other members had to hold the man accountable. They couldn’t just sweep it under the rug.
4. Do you love your local church? Then you are to be proactive in seeking to protect it and protect its testimony in the community.
5. What a shame when the church loses its testimony and unbelievers mock the church and say things like:
• “He’s a deacon or teacher up there at that church, but they do nothing about him despite the well-known fact that he gets drunk and runs around with women.”
• “Did you hear about that church? They can’t get along with each other and they are having all kinds of fighting and turmoil.”
Second, because God is concerned with restoring the one who is in sin
1. The Bible is not advocating an approach of you going up to another brother or sister and saying, “You’re in sin – you’re out of here!”
2. If members are involved in detrimental conduct and they are hurting themselves or others or the church body, they should be approached out of love and concern. The goal is the restoration of the offender. Galatians 6:1
• Illustration: If you see one of my sons in a place they shouldn’t be or doing something sinful or harmful, I would hope you would come to me or do something, not just turn your head and say, “It’s none of my business.”
• Illustration: If fellow believers are involved in sexual sin, and you know about it, you have to do something. They are heading off a cliff and you have to try and help them.
• Illustration: If a believer is obviously out of sorts with the church leadership or other believers, and they are spreading their grievances and gossip to others, this is just like somebody lighting a match and throwing it down in the church. You have to do something. You can’t just sit idly by and do nothing.