You are a courageous, gracious, and loving brother to move forward with the first step of church discipline. As you and other brothers have found, certain members of God’s believers that you know well are in sexual sin. You love them too much to allow this or even participate with your silence!
We don’t need to discuss the sin for it is apparent according to the Word and you have other witnesses of their confession. You now wait to see if the offending parties will actually stop this sin.
Let’s quickly review the Matthew 18 believer’s discipline process as taught by Jesus Himself.
Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile (sinful pagan) and a tax collector (terrible offensive sinner).
“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
We all remember the three parts: 1) go yourself, 2) take two or three with you, 3) tell your whole assembly. If the offending party refuses, you immediately cut him off and treat them as a rank pagan.
In the New Testament Word we have several examples of the end of the line for some continuing offenders.
First is Paul’s judgment in turning the man in 1 Corinthians 5 over to Satan to destroy his flesh to save his soul (spirit) from the lake of fire before he was erased from the book of life.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Sort of blows away the “do not judge” argument, right? Of course in our day and age, and particularly in the west, we coddle sinners to be “nice” rather than loving them through admonishment that rescues them from perilous eternal times.
When several did not repent, Paul also turned them over to Satan with the same obedient approach.
1 Timothy 1:20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme (reject the truth & dishonor God or His people).
The major issue you’re concerned with is if you have either gossiped or slandered the offending parties. Your concern to be rightly obedient in front of the Father is so commendable!
As we discussed, gossip is speaking untrue things (lies) about people to others. Slander is doing the same thing only in writing. You’ve never lied in this case.
You’re being obedient and holy for our great Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, in order to accomplish part 2 in the discipline process, one must talk about the sin with another believer or two away from the offender in order to come to a decision to approach and rebuke together as one.
Your heart is pure, and your motives are pure. Your desire is for these offending believers to walk worthy and be holy in the sight of God and others who they are influencing. They are also causing others to stumble.
This is as serious as it gets, dear brother.
Now then, we can be malicious toward others. In this case, one is trying to depreciate another. It can even be done with the truth. Let’s try a paraphrased example that’s happened against me as a prophet of God that I heard about through others.
“You know that Marc White? He goes around prophesying and admonishing negative things to people in God’s church to get them to repent. Who does he think he is being a judgmental legalist and poking his nose in places it doesn’t belong? What a joke!”
In this case, sentence 1 and 2 are true. But sentence 3 and 4 are malice, depreciating me in the presence of others. They’re trying to dishonor God by maliciously practicing an eternal sin. Malice, we believe, calls the demons to the offending party, like other sin. In 1 Corinthians 8-10 we see the devastating effects of causing someone to stumble. Both the offender and the stumbler end up in the lake of fire. God help us all…
The Word speaks clearly if the eternal death for those who practice such things. Notice the other evil things that are rounded up with these sins. Pretty nasty:
Romans 1:28-32 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of (eternal) death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
We can all on occasion gossip, slander, or cause malice toward another. But we answer to God for each infraction. And the more we sin, the more we want to sin. We never, ever want to practice any sin. Not one.
2 Corinthians 5:9-12 Therefore we (believers) also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear (terror) of the Lord, we persuade men…
Of course, we know that full restoration is the Lord’s goal for all discipline. Notice the call to gentleness in spirit.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
Even the man who for sexual sin had been turned over to Satan finally repented and was restored! Praise the Lord!
2 Corinthians 2:6-11 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
And certainly, we fully forgive the offender whether they repent or not. We never want the root of bitterness choking out the Word. Many end up in hell due to continued bitterness. All of us at some point have struggled with this is our Christian life.
Hebrews 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled (eternally lost)…
Here’s a chilling audio on a former believer who was choked out by the root of bitterness when another believer caused her to stumble away from God…
(Listen to all at www.walkworthy.org/affabel )
Be encouraged, dear brother. You obedient labor in the vineyard will be rewarded by God’s grace! Good job…
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
You may view our Archives here: DEAR BRETHREN – ARCHIVES; Complete Archives; feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion. May our Father richly bless you with His grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in order to walk worthy of His name.