Listen:  141.1

To answer your good question, let’s read Matthew 18:15-17, “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.” 

In this portion, the Lord is teaching His disciples about how to deal with offenses from fellow believers.  It begins simple enough, telling us that if someone trespasses against us, which means to offend or sin against, we are to go to that brother and tell him what he has done that is wrong.  This is simple and pure truth.  Rather than talk ABOUT the offending brother, we need to talk TO the offending brother.  With grace and concern, we should talk to that one about their actions.  If he listens and acknowledges, then the situation is ended.  You have gained, or ‘won’ your brother back.

If your brother refuses to listen to the complaint, then we are obligated by the Word of God to take one or two other brothers with us to talk to this one that has offended.  This is a serious matter and should be done in love and gravity.  We read in Psalms 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  How sweet and encouraging isthe fellowship and support we receive when we walk together in unity with our fellow Christians.  This does not mean that we ‘look the other way’ when our brother sins.  Rather, out of Christian love, we tell them their faults so they might take corrective actions and be restored to close fellowship with their fellow believers.

We do a disservice to our fellow believer if we see him or her doing or saying things that dishonor the Lord, and do not talk to them about it.  It is our duty and privilege to work with them to encourage them to acknowledge, confess, and repent of their sins.  By taking one or two or others with us to talk to the wayward brother, we are showing a unified concern for their spiritual well-being.  We are told expressly in 1 John 1:9that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Sometimes we must make the effort to help our erring brother or sister see that their actions are dishonoring to the Lord.  We may have to help that one come to the place of repentance and confession to the Lord so that they might receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

If the unrepentant person will not listen to the counsel of the two or three brothers, then he is to be brought before the church for more encouragement to repent.  If he refuses to listen to the church, then “let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”  The heathen and the publican, or tax collector, were generally rejected by others as sinful, so the church is told to reject the unrepentant believer until they do come to repentance.  The Apostle Paul teaches us about the church’s responsibility to discipline those who claim to be saved, yet are continuing in sin.  He wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:11, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”  The intent of this discipline is to show the unrepentant one the seriousness of unconfessed sin.  It dishonors the Lord when His children continue in unconfessed sin.  It weakens the testimony of the local church when those living in sin are allowed to continue to take part in the functions of the church.  It should break the heart of a true believer when his fellow believers shun him and exclude him from their lives.  The Lord’s desire is that this act of discipline will bring this man to repentance, and restore him to fellowship with the Lord and with his brothers and sisters in Christ.  Discipline is never pleasant, but when done according to God’s Word, it can be beneficial.  (141.1)