Rebuking a Sinning Christian - Part 1
July 15, 2021
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. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:15-18).
Spiritual discipline is rare in many churches. The words of Jesus (Matthew 7:1), Judge not, that you be not judged have been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied by many churches to the extent no one is held accountable for false doctrine and for sinful attitudes and actions. On the other hand, many churches have ‘split’ because the church did not engage in spiritual discipline biblically.
In this text Jesus tells us not only to recognize sin in the life of the believer and in the church, but how to deal with it when it is recognized. Depending on how a Christian and church deals with the sinner determines if the guilty person(s) will be recovered and restored in faith and fellowship, or if the guilty person(s) will be caused to sin further by harboring resentment, bitterness, and the temptation to ruin the reputation of the church through gossip and slander.
Confronting sin for the purpose of correcting a sinning Christian should be done as soon as the sin has been made known. It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary in order to keep the sinner from continuing on in his/her sin and to keep the church from becoming angry, bitter and resentful toward the sinner.
What did Jesus mean by the words ‘tell him is fault'? It is a single word in the Greek text and means to ‘bring to light’ or ‘to expose’. The construction of the verse tells us that the sinning Christian is to be shown his/her sin in such a way that he/she cannot escape recognizing it for what it is. The sin must be sin and not someone’s conjecture, opinion, or here-say.
Note that Jesus said to expose this matter to a sinning Christian in private. Far too often this step and the 2nd step are skipped and the guilty party is brought before the assembly and publicly rebuked in an offensive manner. This should never be. The church is not in the business of ruining the lives and reputation of people. It is in the business of forgiving and restoring people to faith and fellowship. Therefore, the first step in this process must be private, one-on-one. In many instances that is enough to secure repentance and renewed faith.
“Lord Jesus, this matter of spiritual discipline is an important, yet delicate matter in Christian life. It behooves us to call upon Your Holy Spirit to guide us in this matter so that erring brothers and sisters are recovered and restored rather than reviled and ruined. Give me a heart of compassion toward the sinner so that he/she will become a productive saint. In Your name I ask, Amen.”