My dear friend, thank you so much for this very important question. The simple answer to your question would be “yes,” but the Scriptures provide us a good deal of guidance as to when and how this is done, and as well, the proper spirit of the Christian and the desired effect of such a confrontation. But the bottom line is that it is the responsibility of Christians in the local assembly to address false doctrine and sinful behavior in the local gathering.

First, I will give an example from Scripture where the believers in Corinth were tolerating a great sin in their assembly, and the Apostle Paul had to intervene in order to preserve the godly testimony of that assembly. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. Now in this case, the remedy for such abominable behavior among Christians was to put out of the assembly the offender, in other words to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh”. At first blush, this phrase might be difficult to understand, but essentially, the person must be removed from fellowship with the assembly, no longer to enjoy active fellowship with the local believers, and would be “on his own” in the world, subject to the trials and temptations and other harsh treatment of Satan outside of the guidance of the local assembly, and thus without the support of his brethren, until such time as he might repent, or see the error in his ways. “The destruction of the flesh” points to perhaps some very difficult times for this errant brother, until his fleshly appetites and actions are once more in submission to and in harmony with the Holy Spirit’s leading, and then with repentance, that brother might be restored to fellowship. Another verse to support this need for assembly discipline would be 1 Timothy 1:18-20 where we read, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme”.

Actually, the entire purpose of putting someone out of fellowship, which is an expected action in such cases and referred to as “assembly discipline” is to ultimately be able to restore an errant brother. We read in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” We read also in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

Now, we see above the types of actions the Holy Spirit would have us to take in the local church when addressing sinful behavior, and also the spirit we should have when addressing such things (humility, and the desire to restore); and now, what does the Bible tell us as to how to act?  In Matthew 18:15-18 we read, “But if thy brother sin against thee, go, reprove him between thee and him alone. If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he does not hear thee, take with thee one or two besides, that every matter may stand upon the word of two witnesses or of three. But if he will not listen to them, tell it to the assembly; and if also he will not listen to the assembly, let him be to thee as one of the nations and a tax-gatherer. Verily I say to you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on the earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on the earth shall be loosed in heaven.” In another reference, we find these words in Titus 3:10, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject….”

I think we must see in these examples that it is of paramount importance that the assembly definitely act to preserve the testimony of the body of Christ, the church, of which Christ is the head. But, this is a solemn action, and not to be taken lightly, so there is care that one who is offended go first to the offending brother or sister and clarify the details of what has happened, with an eye to whether in fact an unrighteous act or teaching has been rightly understood, and that there has in fact been a wrong done; perhaps that person didn’t actually mean things as they might seem, or if they did something wrong, perhaps with a loving approach, might repent on the spot. But, if there is no resolution, then generally there should be at least 2 witnesses brought in to also examine the situation with the brother or sister in question. If then it is determined that there was a wrong, the errant one has another possibility of repentance there and then; if not, it would then go before the assembly, and the final discipline would be required if there was no repentance.  In all such cases, our spirit must be one of humility, and a certain desire for restoration for any errant brother or sister so that they might come to repentance and finally be restored to fellowship. There must be very much care taken with this whole process, and that means being in prayer, getting the facts straight in order to assure we understand correctly what has happened, and giving every opportunity for repentance before discipline is applied. Sinful behavior or false doctrine must not be tolerated in the local church as it impacts in a negative manner all who are in the body of believers, and more importantly, this results in a very poor testimony of the church of Christ in this world. If the local assembly does not judge sinful behavior, this plays into Satan’s hands as it undermines our effectiveness in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost.  But again, such situations require much discernment, humility, and prayer, and of course a right spirit so that we do not make things worse through a lack of understanding of God’s Word, leading to impulsive, unscriptural decisions.  (457.5)  (SF)