Church discipline is severely misunderstood. When used properly, it is exactly what the Christian who is sinning needs. When used improperly, it can irrevocably damage the soul of a person, and it is absolutely excruciating to that person. Let me explain why God wrote this specific order, and why disobeying this order is grievous to God.
Let’s spell out the first degree so that there is no mistaking it:
“And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matthew 18:1)
First degree church discipline is fabulous. If more people used it instead of jumping to second or third degree, this life would be grand. First degree means that a person sinned. Without telling anyone else their offense against you, go to that person in private and let them know their sin.
Wow. This is staggering. God wrote this. Everyone forgets first degree because it’s awesome. Nobody gets hurt. No one is slandered, no poison is spread, there is no public disgrace. If you are the one sinning, you are SO HAPPY that the person came to you in private, because you can talk things over.
Believe it or not, MOST of the time when you perceive that someone sinned against you, it is simply a misunderstanding. That person did not mean to hurt your feelings. Assume the best in people. If you twist what everybody says and mull it over for days until you’re furious, you are sinning way more than the other person anyway.
So go to that person in private. You’ve got to have guts to do this. God commands you to do this for your own good as well as for the good of that person who has offended you. You see, that person is blind to their sin, and you are the one that saw it. It’s up to you. If you do NOT go to that person, they will never know that they sinned. They will continue in their sin. And you are now responsible before God for their sin (Ezekiel 33:8-9). You are guilty of sinning against God for not telling them. And they will continue to wallow in their sin because no one loves them enough to tell them to stop.
(Stay tuned for second degree church discipline…)Tweet