Why Church Discipline (4 of 7)

Do you understand why it is so important for churches to take seriously God’s instructions about discipline?

Jesus commanded it and gave instructions for doing it. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Couldn’t we stop here? Isn’t this reason enough? 

Refusal to repent and be forgiven of sin brings reproach to the church and to our Lord Jesus Christ (Proverbs 14:34)

An undisciplined church membership is one of the reasons non-Christians point to church members and say, "They’re worse than I am! Why should I want to be a Christian?"

Refusal to repent and be forgiven of sin eventually leads to more sin in the church and to the church looking more like the world (1 Corinthians 5:6)

Paul said "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." If people see a church member seeming to get by with sin, they may be emboldened to become involved in the same sin. It begins to seem as if it were "no big deal." Of course, eventually there is a terribly high price for sin–but it is not usually immediate. Our sinful nature makes sin seem very attractive. We do not need further encouragement to go there! 

Scripture commands us to admonish one another (Colossians 3:6; Romans 15:14)

God knows how we are built and how easily we can be tempted. Part of the purpose of a healthy body is that the members help protect one another from sin by personal admonishment (encouragement) to obey God.

Admonishment must be more than just preaching from the pulpit. If a church receives admonishment only from pulpit preaching and not personally, the people begin to disconnect preaching from real living. It is similar to a child whose parent constantly tells him or her to "Stop it!" or "Come here!" Without discipline, the child quickly learns to simply ignore the commands.

Sin is "deceitful" (deceptive) and members of the body of Christ need each other’s encouragement to stay out of it (Hebrews 3:13; 10:34)

We all have "blind spots." We all tend to be good at rationalizing our behavior and excusing ourselves. We all tend to see our circumstances as "special." We all are capable of minimizing sin. It is deceptive. That’s why we need each other to help us see from a better perspective. 

It is a God-given responsibility for Christians to seek to restore other members who fall into sin. (Galatians 6:1)

Most of us would like to hand this responsibility back to God! We can be tempted to do that with any difficult command. We can be tempted not to pray or study by thinking, "God’s got it all in control anyway, right?"

We can be tempted not to witness by thinking, "God can draw people to Himself whenever He wants to, right?"

We can be tempted not to confront others with their sin by thinking, "God can get their attention when and however He wants to do it, without my help, right?"

And it’s true. God can do all these things without our help! But HE HAS COMMANDED US TO DO THEM! It’s part of our preparation for eternity! We don’t have the option of delegating difficult tasks back to God!

Christians are commanded to be submitted to one another (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5)

Most people, Christians included, like to think that their behavior is "no one else’s business." We like to see ourselves as independent. We don’t like to think of others as having authority over us. But Biblically, this is simply not true. Christians would do well to learn how to apply Biblical principles of submission to authority!

The Bible says "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." (1 Samuel 15:23) Witchcraft opens us up to demonic influence. So does rebellion.For our own good, as well as for the glory of God Himself, we need to submit ourselves to one another and be joyously thankful when someone else is willing to help us see the dangers of sin!

Sin is deadly and horrifically destructive (Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:7-8; James 1:15)

If we could begin to see sin from God’s perspective we would quickly see the urgency and importance of church discipline. Because the consequences of sin are often subtle and long-range, we tend to minimize it. When we learn to see sin as something disgusting, rotten, deadly, poisonous, and destructive, we will do everything in our power to keep people out of it. 

If, on a stormy night, we knew the bridge ahead had collapsed, we would do everything we could to stop drivers from going there.

If we knew of a medicine that would cure a friend of a deadly disease, we would do everything we could to convince him to take it.

If we knew terrorists were about to blow up a building, we would do everything in our power to get people out of there.

If we could see sin as God sees it, we would do everything He commands us to do to try to keep people out of it and to restore them when they fall into it.

Next: Answering Objections to Church Discipline

steve@aboundingjoy.com

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