This is a very interesting and needful question because the Lord expects us, the body of Christ, to be able to resolve problems that often come up within the church.  The Lord desires that we do all things “decently and in order.”   Let’s look at some of the instructions from God’s Word.

We read in Matthew 18:15-18, “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. 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. 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 and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Here we have a situation where one sins or trespasses against a fellow believer.  The offended brother is to go to that person and speak to him of the sin he committed.  If he realizes that he has sinned, and confesses that sin, the brother is gained, and the issue ends there.  If he refuses to hear his brother, then the offended brother should bring two or more with him to confront the sinning brother.  If he listens to them, realizes and confesses his sin, the issue ends there.  However, if he refuses to listen to his brethren, the issue is then to be brought before the whole church.  If he then realizes his sin and confesses it, the issue ends there.  But if he will not listen, the church may be called upon to discipline him. 

Notice the authority the Lord gives to the local church in verse 18, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  If the local church, when led of the Lord, forgives the sinning one, the Lord recognizes him as being ‘loosed’ of that sin in Heaven.  If the local church determines that discipline is necessary, the Lord recognizes this man as being ‘bound’ by that discipline in Heaven.  When the local church seeks the Lord’s guidance, He will give it and will honor the decision of the church.  Of course, all discipline, such as ex-communication, should be performed with the intent of the act of discipline working to bring this one to repentance and restoration. 

Now let’s read 1 Corinthians 6:1-7, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”

Here we have a case where two believers are in a dispute with each other.  We are taught that it dishonors the Lord if one brother sues another brother in Christ.  For two believers to go before an unbeliever to solve their dispute is a shame!  We are instructed that we should be able to settle our disputes among ourselves.  One day we shall judge angels, can’t we make proper discernments (judgments) today?  If two brothers are in dispute, they should be set before even the ‘least esteemed in the church’ to have their grievances heard.  It doesn’t take a law degree or a degree in theology to settle these disputes.  It just takes common sense and honesty.  Even the least esteemed possess those traits. 

Here are just a couple of examples of how the Lord has equipped and authorized the church to handle matters among ourselves.  If we are willing to listen to the Lord’s Word and to obey its principles, there is not an issue among us that we cannot solve.  (386.2)