What does the Bible have to say about the importance of attempted restoration? Does God tell us how it is to be done?
In His Word, God has given us important instructions regarding church discipline. Here are some significant passages.
"15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man [i.e., a pagan or an unbeliever] and a publican [i.e., a tax collector–the pious Jews of that time withdrew themselves from, and had no dealings or social relationships with, pagans or tax collectors]." (Mt 18:15-17 KJV)
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness [gentleness]; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Ga 6:1 KJV)
"1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife [i.e., he has an immoral relationship with his step-mother]. 2 And ye are puffed up [boasting about their "freedom" in Christ–erroneously proud of their tolerance!], and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you [i.e., removed from their fellowship]. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [i.e., sin tolerated in a few will infect and spread throughout the church]
"7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
"9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." (1Co 5:1-13 KJV)
Obviously Christians have had (and continue to have) lively discussions concerning the correct applications of passages such as these.
Hopefully, in future posts, we can consider some of the purposes of church discipline, some of the answers to common objections to church discipline (see the previous post), and some practical considerations for churches who want to get serious about this part of God’s Word.