Summary: Sometimes a Church must discipline it’s members. The Bible gives us clear direction on handling this process.
At one time or another, a church may need to exercise discipline against a member who has sinned. Church discipline must always be handled carefully and lovingly, just as God discipline us. The Bible is clear on how this is to be handled.
Unintentional or private sin or a public, fragrant, and arrogant sin.
What steps are to be taken at first?
MT 18:15 "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. 16 But 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.’ 17 If 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.
So what we see here is
1 Go to the brother or sister and show the fault to them in private.
2 If they don’t listen, go with one or two witnesses.
3 If they still refuse to listen, take the matter before the church.
Discipline can be painful for anyone especially from a church they love. All discipline serves a purpose especially for a Christian who has committed a sin.
A young child accidentally took sleeping pills from the medicine cabinet. The Dr. told the family to keep the child awake for the next 8 hours even if with the pain of a slap if need be. The pain was necessary for the child’s survival. So too in the Christians journey.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Discipline can seem cruel and unloving to a person at times. It is however always done out of love for their safety and well being.
ILLUS-Baby touching the stove
Still, a person may refuse to heed the warning of discipline. If a church member refuses the Bible gives us strict guidelines to deal with and correct them.
The Bible gives us clear guidelines as to how to handle this process if the person refuses to listen or repent.
1 Remove the person in error from the fellowship.
13 God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 (Paul speaking to the Corinthian church about immoral behavior) for the complete reason. A church must discipline the sin of it’s members. A sin left unchecked can be venomous to a church. We are not judging others when we do this but upholding God’s commandments. Putting a person out of the church is the last resort. By cutting off a member from fellowship he stands alone with his sin against Satan. The hope of this is that it will drive him to repent. The church’s role is not to hurt but to help others. Motivate them to repent and to retain the fellowship of the church.
2 The church gives united disapproval, but forgiveness and comfort are in order if he/she chooses to repent.
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
People need forgiveness. If a man repents he should be forgiven. Satan gains a victory of someone is permanently separated from fellowship. Mistakes can be made in church discipline. It can bee too lenient or too harsh and unforgiving. Church disciplines goal should be restoration and repentance.
There is a time for a firm hand and a time for a caring hand. Choose the right one for effective resolve of the situation.
3 Do not associate with the disobedient person; if you must, speak to them as a person who needs a warning.
2TH 3:14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
This is not saying we are to be cold to a person, but separation can make them focus on what they have done wrong. A firm word may be needed to bring actions to their attention.
4 After 2 warnings, reject the person from fellowship.
10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.