The continuation of lesson 32 of the Discipleship Making process, where in part one of this lesson we found Jesus introducing the subject of “Reproving A Believer” to His disciples.
In summary of the last lesson, we learned that before we reprove a believer we must first individually address the issue of judging our own heart and secondly be committed to restoring the offending believer, which then lead into Jesus laying out the four-step process in dealing with the offender, with each step designed to give the offender an opportunity to repent. It is here that we pick-up where we left off last, Jesus laying out the remaining steps, to His disciples, of how to “Reprove A Believer”, where in part one of this lesson we learned that the first step involves the person who observes a believer sinning going to the offender and proving them in private, understanding that if the offender does not repent they are instructed to take additional steps.
Read: Matthew 18:16-20
The second step is to take one or two more individuals to confront the offender so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed (Deuteronomy 19:15). The witnesses play an important role. First, because of their impartiality, they help insure that there is no miscommunication or misunderstanding between the parties. Secondly, they serve as ambassadors of peace and reconciliation. And third, they gather the facts concerning the offense in regards to Scripture, what the offended party says and what the offender says.
If the offender does not repent at this point it indicates they are in rebellion. Therefore, the third step is to tell the church. In telling the church it is not necessary to inform every member of the church immediately but only the ruling body. After hearing the witnesses the ruling body then makes a legally binding decision in regards to the church’s position. Jesus addressed this issue when He said, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind [forbid] on earth shall have been bound [forbidden] in heaven; and whatever you loose [permit] on earth shall have been loosed [permitted] 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,” (Matthew 18:18-20).
Should the ruling body fail to take action they are remiss in their responsibility and not acting in love. The Apostle Paul rebuked the leadership of the church at Corinth over this exact issue (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
Once the ruling body has made its position clear the offender has one last chance to repent (This is the third offer). If they do not then they are guilty of acting with presumption or high-handedly. Jesus said that if they failed to repent at this point then, step four, everyone in the church was to treat them as a Gentile and a tax gatherer. In other words, the congregation was to have no fellowship with the individual until he repented. The Apostle Paul upheld this position in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
The point of the lesson is to correct straying believers.
With that, allow me to leave you with this question to consider, along with a little homework assignment until my next posting:
What is the difference between the two sayings, “I’m sorry” and “I repent”?
. . . and the homework assignment . . .
Take a few minutes to reflect on what Jesus had to say, and ask yourself these questions:
- How many churches do you know use the biblical process of dealing with an offending believer?
- Why don’t most churches use the biblical process?
- At what point in the process do failures in responsibility occur most frequently? . . . Why?
Until next time . . . Godspeed!