Rebuking a Sinning Christian - Part 2
July 16, 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).
Not only does Jesus give us instruction on how to deal with a sinning believer, He gives us a prime example as well. No one was more disappointing to Jesus than Peter. He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve disciples. He became the de facto leader of the group and was recognized by Jesus as such. Jesus spent a lot of time and effort on Peter - teaching, correcting, giving opportunities, etc. so that he would grow and develop spiritually. At times Peter showed spiritual brilliance, at other times he demonstrated a total lack of spiritual insight.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter followed the temple guards as they arrested Jesus and took Him to the palace of the High Priest. Rather than standing up for Jesus and defending Him, Peter denied knowing Jesus or having anything to do with Jesus. It was a bitter moment for Peter and a disappointing moment for Jesus, but a moment Jesus forewarned Peter about.
After Jesus was resurrected, He met with seven of the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21). He had breakfast with them and they spoke together. Jesus then turned His attention to Peter to deal with his sin of denying Him. Was this conversation private? Some say no, but I believe Jesus dealt with Peter away from the others. Can I prove that? No, but it is in keeping with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18:15.
If, in private, a sinning Christian confesses and repents of known sin, nothing further is to be done. No one else needs to know of the event. To publicize the meeting and its result is to expose the repentant sinner to others which could cause embarrassment, resentment, and may even cause the repentant Christian to leave the church. Furthermore, it may put a stumbling block in front of other Christians in the church. Jesus said to deal with the issue privately, and it needs to remain private when the sinning believer repents.
“Lord Jesus, remind us daily that sin is a dangerously negative matter to deal with in the life of a Christian, and that we must deal with sin in a loving, compassionate, and restorative manner. May we never approach a sinning brother or sister arrogantly or with an attitude of superiority. May we follow the example of Jesus as He dealt with sinful disciples. To Your honor and glory, and to the salvation and restoration of the sinner I ask, Amen.”