Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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How to Deal with Sin in the Church – Matthew 18:15-19
Introduction: In this passage of Scripture Jesus gives us seven principles on how to deal with those who sin in the church. There is one overarching lesson He gives without saying it: Never let the sin go for any reason. Not political correctness. Not for fear of being criticized yourself. Not because you may lose the person to the church. (If they have sin they aren’t really a part of the church – the Body of Christ.) Not because it takes too much time to do. Not because you think it will hurt the church to do this. (How much is the church hurt when there is sin in the church?)
Principle # 1 Go to them one on one and point out their sin. When you have verifiable sin in the Body of Christ, Jesus says to go to them personally and ask them to repent. If they do that you have won a brother. (They can’t be a true brother without living in a repentant state.)
Principle # 2 If they won’t listen, take one or two other with you to point out the sin lovingly. (Jewish law required two or three witnesses to swear to a certain set of statements for a judgment to be levied.) When you get to the person lay out the need for repentance again.
Principles # 3 If they still won’t repent take it to the Body of Christ. Let the whole Body of Christ help you lead them with love back to repentance.
Principle # 4 If they still won’t listen to the plea for repentance than the Body should let them go. What Jesus told them to do is to treat them like a pagan (they are if they still refuse to repent.) or a tax collector (the most hated people in Jesus day and ours) This means that they are shut out of the meaningful parts of church life. An example would be the sacraments.
Principle # 5 Pray So many places where discipline is meted out stop at the last principle. Instead Jesus teaches that we should pray. He teaches us that whatever we bind on earth is bound in heaven. Also whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. The teaching is that whenever the Body of Christ prays and prays for the finding of the evil influence in the one who is unrepentant. He is also teaching that the Body should pray for the loosing of the evil ones influence on them as well.
Principle # 6 Agree Jesus next teaches that we should get one or two others to agree us in prayer. If they agree in prayer about the binding or loosing of the evil in the unrepentant one’s life, Jesus says that it will be done for them by the Father in heaven.
Principle # 7 Gather together Jesus teaches us one last principle for restoring one who is unrepentant. We are to gather together as the Body for the purpose of praying for the lost one. Jesus says that if we do this then the Father will be in their midst and that He will act through the power of His Holy Spirit to convict the unrepentant one of their sin.
Point: Following the correct path for restoration of an unrepentant person is the only way to bring them to repentance. Any other way is humanist and doesn’t work long range. God’s way is the only one that works.