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If any member of the church (any Christian brother or sister who is part of the Body of Christ) sins against another believer or against the Church itself –

1. He is to obey the Lord and heed his conscience by repenting and being reconciled to God and to anyone else he has sinned against (1 John 1:9; Matthew 5:23-24; James 5:16).

2. If he does not repent, he is to be reproved in private by the one against whom he has sinned (Matthew 18:15).

3. If he still does not repent, he is to be reproved a second time with one or two witnesses who may confirm both his response and the spirit in which he has been rebuked (Matthew 18:16).

4. If he still does not repent, the matter is to be taken before the church (Matthew 18:17).

5. If he will not listen to the church, then the church is to remove him from membership (if he is a member of that local body) and from all fellowship (Matthew 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:12-13).

The ultimate goal in church discipline is restoration of a sinning believer to fellowship. The individuals and the churches must not act in the place of the Holy Spirit by demanding restoration, but must humbly obey the Scriptures for the sake of proving their love for Christ (1 John 5:3 ) and their love for the one caught in sin (1 John 4:7-11; Matthew 22:39). The Spirit of God calls the sinner to repentance and grants it in the presence of godly sorrow (John 16:5-15; 2 Tim. 2:25-26).

Those who are called on to rebuke a sinning believer are “to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). If at any point including after removing him from fellowship and membership, he repents, then we are to restore him, “forgive and comfort him” (2 Cor. 2:7), and “reaffirm your love for him” (2 Cor. 2:8). Church discipline is to be applied to all members of the Body of Christ without bias or partiality (1 Tim. 5:19-21; Gal. 2:11).


March 2008

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright
© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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