The Uncompromised Word of God
"Judge Not": A Treatise on Christian Judgment According to the Holy Word
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“Judge not lest ye be judged”
I wish I had $10 for every time I have heard our Lord and Savior misquoted and quoted out of context. I would be a very rich man. In the present age of “political correctness”, more people can misquote Jesus from Matthew 7:1 than can quote John 3:16. Sinners seeking the veil of protection from correction are familiar with this misquote even if they do not remember any other passage from the Bible.
Now in the case of sinners, I can quickly explain that I do not judge them. The most common situation where you may encounter this quote is in explaining the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality or promiscuity. However, all you have to explain in such a matter is that we “do not” judge any person to be damned to eternal punishment. Nor, do we set the rules or guidelines for morality or sin. Jesus came and died not to “condemn the world, but, that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17), BUT, all those who reject Jesus will be judged by the Word of God at His return (John 3:18, 12:47,48, Revelations 20:15). However, to Christians I say quickly, “Ye said, Judge righteous judgment.”
YES, Jesus tells us to judge. “If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” John 7:23,24
Now if Jesus were saying that we should “not judge” in Matthew 7:1, then He would be contradicting Himself by now saying that we should judge. As He cannot lie (He is God), and, as He never taught any doctrine that contradicted another doctrine of God, we know that He has not told us “to not judge anyone at all ever” (as the sinner or chastised Christian would like us to think). Here we are clearly told by Jesus to judge, what to judge and how to judge.
Jesus definitively states that we are to
As a matter of fact, we know He means judging the works of believers because in this case He has instructing them to judge His work whether it be holy or unholy. WOW, how can we as Christians escape the righteous judgment of the church if Jesus submitted His works to the judgment of men?
I most frequently hear the misquotation of Jesus from Matthew when trying to explain scriptures that reprove Christians’ and church members’ behavior. Why should I hear this quote? It is a knee-jerk reaction of a Christian that is resisting the direct rebuke of the Word of God. Whether the rebuke is of their behavior or that of another Christian that needs disciplining, the reaction is often the same misquotation. The last couple generations of church members have been socialized by the New Age world doctrine of political correctness.
Political correctness was addressed by Jesus in His most quoted passage in John. Most people quote 3:16 and miss the full revelation of salvation and the rejection of salvation that is explained in verses 13-21. He explains that He is come to save the world not condemn it. He does so be bringing the light into a dark world. But, the dark world rejects the light in order to cover their sins. Obviously the doctrine of political correctness is a satanic teaching. The sad, yet, piercing question is “Why do Christians choose to hide behind the veil of darkness provided by the devil?”
Should not a Christian love the light as Jesus said? Why should a Christian’s deeds need to be hidden? No Christian should have to protect their actions from the light. No Christian has the right to hide their deeds. According to the Word, Christians are to be salt and light to a lost and dark world. They are to be a light on a hill not hiding their light under a bushel. The world is to see our good works and praise God, even realize the existence of God and Christianity by our exposed deeds. But, I digress.
We are discussing whether or not judgment is Biblical. Let us begin with the often misquoted Word Jesus spoken in His sermon on the mount from Matthew 7:1-5.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”
In this teaching of Jesus we see three things
Can we be sure of these three principles from this teaching of Jesus? Yes, read Luke’s quotation of the same sermon in Luke 6:35-38.
“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
So, Jesus is talking about showing mercy, not saying we should not judge anyone. When we lay this quote over that of Matthew, we see that Jesus only gets to the issue of judging when He tells us to clean out our eye before we try to help clean another’s eye. We are only told to avoid harsh judgments when it comes to a debt or sin against us. We are to be merciful in such instances that we may be worthy of the mercy shown us by God. We see this explained further when Jesus taught the disciples how to pray.
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Luke 11:4
He reinforces the principle of forgiveness of sins in the parable of the Matthew 18:21-35. Peter asked Jesus how many times he should have to forgive his brother. Jesus told him to forgive his brother 490 times for the same offence. Then He gives the parable of the servant that received mercy but did not show mercy to another.
By seeing the persistence of the doctrine of forgiveness, we know that this is the principle being taught about in Matthew 7:1. If only Christians would read more than a verse here and there they would see all the Word come together line upon line, precept upon precept. But, again, I digress. Let us move on to the third principle in Matthew 7, that we should have clear vision before performing eye surgery.
Jesus meant that we should help others with their impediments of sin. That is clear from his directive to get the “beam” out. If we were to only take care of our eye only, He would have stopped before He got to the second clause of that sentence, “and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” It is apparent that we must play a role in the healing of others. Also, the mote being removed is sin because that was the subject matter He was discussing.
In order to discuss the restoration of another from sin, we must first answer some false teachings and bad arguments. Again, I would like to point out here that ANYONE not wishing to offend their brother by revealing his sin because it is not politically correct to condemn anyone’s actions, hates that brother. “Harsh words,” you say. “Truthful words”, I say.
Many people err by making an argument for love. They placate people with declarations that God is a God of love and a God of mercy. They claim that love prevents them from hurting someone with the truth of the Word. This is a lie and another doctrine of devils. Anyone that will not reveal the Divine judgment coming to the unrepentant sinner or heretical Christian has absolutely no love for that person who is in danger of eternal death.
Proverbs 27:5 says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” and Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly.”
We see our relationship of child to parent with God in Deuteronomy 8:5, “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.” and
Hebrews 12:6-10, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
So God tells us in Proverbs, He explains that discipline is love, true love. Then in Deuteronomy, He tells us that He is our Father and He disciplines us. And in Hebrews, He has Paul explain to us the mystery of His relationship with the Christian. This is why we are called the children of God. In Hebrews, He also explains the inverse relationship of love and discipline. That is, if we are His children we are disciplined and accept discipline.
If we refuse His discipline, we are bastards (not the children of God). Paul does not pull any punches with his explanation. He shows the severity of punishment reserved to the Christian who refuses discipline. Most of the time when you here the misquotation of Matthew 7:1, it is misquoted by a Christian trying to avoid discipline or trying to prevent the discipline of another. However, we see from the scriptures that anyone who resists the discipline of the Word is not a child of God. We also see that one who prevents the restoration of another does not love the person they are shielding from discipline. God loves them, but, anyone who prevents God from chastening them does not. (If we do not rebuke a brother of a sin or false teaching, it could be an indication that we are involved in the same sin.)
Do you need further refutation of the “love does not discipline” false teaching? Look at the description of love given in 1 Corinthians 13:6. Paul discusses charity which is the old English equivalent to the Greek word “agape” which is brotherly love.
“[Love] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth”
When you do not call black, “black”, and, white, “white”, you are hiding the truth (apologizing for the truth and not rejoicing that truth is true). When you do not tell the truth of sin and its consequences, you are withholding Godly correction and restoration. When you withhold criticism of the sin in a Christian’s life and endure their evil doings, you are promoting iniquity not sharing the truth.
“Wait a minute, brother. Are you saying we should rebuke Christians for their sins???”
Yes, emphatically. Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2-4,
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
May the Lord preserve the elect in this day. More truer words of the state of Christianity in America have never been spoken. Not only does Paul tell Timothy that he should reprove, rebuke and exhort, but, he also tells him why he must do so.
This passage is visible in the congregations of America today, as plain as the nose on your face. It is the very reason I am writing this treatise. It is also the reason that Paul told Timothy to rebuke. This shows that rebuking Christians in their sins is Biblical, is necessary and is the duty of the faithful steward of the church. I will present a second example just to drive the point home. Paul says later to Titus, the same thing in Titus 1:9-11.
“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.”
In this case, Paul warns Titus of disputers of the Word, those who refuse the Word (the word deceivers here comes from a Greek word meaning “mind misleader”), the Judaizers who teach that Christians must keep the law of Moses. This is an exhortation to be ready to use the sound doctrine of the Word to refute the heretical teachings of other professing Christians. In this passage we also see an additional listing of what we must rebuke, sin and heresy.
One important thing to point out here is that we use the word judgment loosely. However, we must be exact in this discussion of judgment and discipline. We judge as do jurors in a trial. We give our judgment as to the status of the person charged or questioned. We do not, however, sit in judgment wherein we are the final authority and mete out the eternal punishment of God. We judge actions, spirits, teachings, prophecies, and deeds. We DO NOT judge final judgment of the sinner, or the Christian, and then execute an eternal sentence upon them. Of that judgment, Jesus said in John 12:47-50,
“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”
The final judgment comes at the hand of God through and by the Word of God. We must be very clear on this point.
Our judging of matters, spirits, deeds, teachings and morality is solely done out of love for the stumbling Christian and for the congregation involved. We seek the restoration of the stumbling Christian and the protection of the congregation. Later, we will get to the actions we must take in disciplining a Christian in order to protect the congregation. First, let us show the one instance where we DO NOT judge a brother or sister in Christ.
AHA. So there is a time when we are not to judge someone? Yes, in respect to Christian liberties. We do not have the right to apply our personal convictions in regard to our Christian liberty or lack of liberty to others. Paul explains in Romans 14:1-18, that we should not judge the liberty and freedom of another.
“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”
AND, 1Corinthians 10:28,29
“But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof: conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?”
Paul is dealing with several issues or personal conviction. He talks about those who were afraid to eat meat to idols. He also speaks of the observance of holy days or holidays. I quoted the whole long passage so that you could follow the entire explanation and have exact examples of what a personal conviction is.
Why do I need to define personal convictions? I need to do so because modern Christians would like to define issues such as homosexuality as a personal conviction. They would like to call abortion, extramarital sex, and heretical teachings as issues of personal conviction. I must define exactly what a personal conviction is because of the day in which I write. Some (so-called) Christians feel they must ask God if something is wrong in spite of His clear and unchangeable statement on the subject in His Word.
Should you ask God if it is alright for you to have an affair with your Sunday School Superintendent’s spouse? Can you say that it is a personal conviction of only certain Christians that abortion is a sin? And in the other case, where some would say that homosexuality is not condemned by the Bible because of misinterpretation of the clear Words of God, we see that they err, too. Peter said in his second epistle 1:19-21,
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”
We live in a day where some professing Christians wish to retain the sins of their sinful past while claiming the eternal security of the sanctified believer. They want to have the sin and still have their eternal life. They want to sin and still sleep well. This is the very reason we have to discuss judgment and discipline more frequently in the new millennium. It is the reason that we have to stand and reprove and rebuke and exhort in a time of suppression and seduction.
Yes, church, there is a Biblical call for separation from the unrighteous self-proclaimed Christians. John describes a voice warning about those who would be partakers of the sins and revellings of the apostate church in Revelations 18:4,
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
And Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
“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 a one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”
What? Paul judged? Yes. Paul judged. How else would he be able to separate from the unrighteous Christian? Quote that verse the next time a Christian misquotes Matthew 7:1 to you!
Not only does Jesus say to judge, but, Paul judged Christians! He had to deal with sexual immorality at Corinth that was going on within the church (immorality that was actually worse that the sin in one of the most sexually immoral cities of its time). Paul does not say that we should “not rock the boat’. Paul does not teach that we should preserve the tranquility of the congregation by sweeping the sin under the rug. No, no. Paul explicitly says we are not even to keep company with the unrighteous Christian.
What other cases of judgment does Paul give? In the case of taking another Christian to court over civil matters, He says in 1 Corinthians 6:1-3
“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?”
He points out that we will judge the world. And, therefore, we should be able to judge matters of disagreement and civil problems between Christians.
Why is Paul so harsh? He is not harsh. God is that strict. He is that strict because, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Paul is warning from the Old Testament teachings and the law that sin no matter how small corrupts the body of Christ. This is why Aachan and his whole family was stoned in Joshua chapter 7. That is why rebellious children, idolaters, witches, and all sinners that could corrupt the children of Israel were put to death in the Old Testament. This is the truth of God. We see this principle of contraceptive purging of the body of believers throughout the law of Moses. Paul says later in the same book 1Corinthians 15:33,34,
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”
Without the surgical procedure of removing a limb that has gangrene, the whole body would be corrupted and killed. It does not mean that we will not miss our leg. It does mean that we are better off alive and well than poisoned from within. The failure of the present body of Christians to purge their congregations of sin and sinning Christians has lead to a compromise of the faith that is worse than the Catholic church at the time of the Reformation.
Again, this is a matter of loving discipline and righteous judgment. Pastors and elders that love their congregation will lead the body to purge itself of the unrighteous. The Church of Jesus is not a home for wayward unrepentant heretics. It is the base of operations and sanctuary of the Army of God. Why are so many willing to give over their congregation to spies and plants of the adversary just to have a large number in service? I repeat, the church is the Army of God, not a Wal-Mart catering to every whit and whim of sinners. The customer is not always right! The Word is right, God alone is good and right.
Let us return to the discussion of judgment. Are there other areas of judgment? Yes, we are also exhorted to judge prophecies. In chapter 14 of the same letter to Corinth, Paul writes in verses 29-33,
“Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
We have read thus far that
At this time, we come to the reason for judgment again. Judgment is the instrument by which discipline is maintained. Judgment tells us if a thing is right or wrong, Biblical or unscriptural, of Christ or anti-Christ, allowing. It allows us to classify a situation, a deed, a teaching, a spirit, or prophecy as correct or incorrect. And by judging the thing and classifying the thing, we can then take appropriate Biblical action, discipline. Judgment is the sight to guide the scalpel of discipline by which sin and confusion are removed to save the body of Christ.
Webster defines discipline as “education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority.” I think Webster has said it all. Discipline is synonymous with the Biblical term “chastening”, for by chastening of the child of God is the discipline of the believer maintained. We already read that God chastens us to protect us and keep us. Paul said it like this in 1Corinthians 11:31, 32
“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
You see that chastening or discipline is of the Lord and by the Word of God. It is for our eternal protection. The same is true of the discipline of Christians spoken of by Paul.
We will lay out the necessary motives and purposes of discipline which are the purposes and qualities of judgment again.
You see the public punishment of an unrepentant Christian reminds the entire congregation of the danger of sin. It establishes the consequences of sin and demonstrates the nature of the sinner (in the case of the church, the sinner is a Christian). If a Christian will not repent of an obvious sin or heresy after they have been excommunicated from the congregation, they show publicly to the congregation that they are not truly part of the body of Christ. How do we know this? We already read in Hebrews 12:6-10 that those who will not submit to God’s chastening are bastards and not the children of God.
Does this agree with Jesus’ teachings on discipline? YES, Christ Ordained Discipline in Matthew 18:15-20.
“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 a 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. Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
So, excommunicating a Christian that will not yield to the correction of the congregation is Biblical and was taught by Jesus. Let us further examine this particular system of discipline provided by Jesus before we examine a full example of discipline defined by Paul.
First in the explanation of Jesus we see a case of personal sin against a brother in Christ. The individual, you, has been wronged by a brother. What do you do? You go to the brother and explain to them that they wronged you (I do not say offended as “offended” has a much more common meaning now than it did in old English. It does not simply mean that “he belched and I was offended”. It specifically refers to a sin against someone, a hurtful or unrighteous thing not a simple effront). Now, if you have NOT gone to your offending brother or sister first but are speaking of the matter to ANY other church member or pastor, you are GOSSIPING and causing discord not seeking the repentance of the offender. You are not doing what Jesus said to do first!
Jesus says that you have NO option but to speak with the person that hurt you first personally, that you may gain a brother. Then, if they fail to make things right with you, you, THEN, can tell others about it (ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING THEM AS A WITNESS). Do you tell anyone that is not going with you to talk to the offending brother? NO. Again, it is for the purpose of reconciliation and healing, NOT revenge or retaliation. Discipline is always done with the intent of healing and restoring.
So, you return to the offender with two or three witnesses. The offender still refuses to repent or repair. Now you at the third and LAST time, you can take him before the congregation. If he still refuses correction, you put him out and treat him like an evil outcast. That is what a publican or a heathen man was in Jesus explanation. Then Jesus goes on to explain that whatsoever you bind on earth is bound in heaven. These are powerful words of discipline. Jesus is certainly not waffling on the issue. He has said we can bind a matter of an offending sinning brother. That is an awesome statement of church discipline, authority and responsibility.
What if the matter is a matter of a Christian sinning? Paul had to deal with this at Corinth. The fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians explains that a Christian in the congregation was having an affair with his step mother. The congregation was putting up with his well-known sin. Obviously it was not too private a matter as Paul heard about it and he was not even there! So, Paul writes them to tell them how they are supposed to deal with that brother, chapter 5:1-8.
“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 a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. “
Here we see a definite repeated line of judgment and discipline given by Paul in direct agreement to that given by Jesus. Paulsays nothing of the feelings of the stumbling Christian! He does not worry about the feelings of that brother being hurt. Nay, he worries about the soul of the brother. By putting him out of the congregation, he hopes that punishment through satan’s abuse of the brother will awaken the brother to repentance even if that punishment of his sin results in death. Yes, a sin can kill a Christian. Maybe you do not believe that. Let’s look at what happened in Acts 5:1-11,
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. ”
When someone tells you that discipline should be withheld to protect someone’s feelings, just read that passage. Ananias and his wife were not called before a committee. They were killed by God, Himself, on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit. Yes, there are sins that can result in the death of the transgressor. A Christian cheating on their spouse can contract AIDS and die for their sin. (For that matter, the spouse that is innocent, could die of AIDS as well making the sin of one kill two. That is why discipline is so crucial. The consequences of one man’s sin impact others profoundly.) God slew Ananias and Sapphira just for lying. What was the point? The congregation was put in fear of the Lord. They realized the consequences of sin and that it would result in death. They were made more careful of their actions through the punishment of others. They knew that lying to God would not be tolerated.
“Toleration”, what an interesting word to come to in a time when we are put upon by the world for being “intolerant”? God was not tolerant. Why are we supposed to be tolerant of sin in the body of Christ? There is no reason for it and no excuse for it. Jesus said put them out, Paul said put them out and Peter said, “The ones who carried your husband off are here to carry you off.”
Here is your answer to any argument of intolerance. Any church congregation is a private organization for members of the body of Christ only. The head of the organization, Jesus, set the standard for membership. He established the rules because He is holy and CANNOT tolerate sin. Anyone approaching the throne of God that has sin on him will immediately die. Therefore, we are not being intolerant in enforcing the rules of the organization on its members. We do not agree with the sinful lifestyles of the world. However, we are not telling the world how we think they should live or forcing them to live by the rules that we live by. We are merely warning the world according to the Word of God.
We all come under the condemnation of the Word and must all answer to God. If it were up to God-fearing Christians, the laws of this land would reflect the Will and law of God. The country would prosper as never before. However, as Americans we fight and die for the right of individual citizens to completely disagree with our God and live and believe as they choose. Therefore, Christians are the most tolerant of people. We1do not try to force everyone around us to believe what we believe, to live like we live.
And, if you are a Christian and are overtaken by a sin right now, it is not with us that you struggle. It is not with our authority that you struggle. It is your God with Whom you struggle. If you resist His chastisement through your local congregation, you are rejecting His authority and His fatherhood. You can blame the consequences of your actions on no one but yourself. This is why we are instructed to put such a Christian out of the congregation.
I repeat. Excommunication of a Christian in sin or heresy is done in the hope that they will repent and return to fellowship with the congregation. It is done in a true spirit of love showing concern for his soul, Galatians 6:1-5.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.”
In this explanation of the frame of mind and condition of heart which we must be in when dealing with a stumbling Christian, we see a true demonstration of love. We see that it is done in a spirit of humility and love. When you are more willing for a Christian to be mad with you but restored to God, you know you love them. You have put their interests ahead of yours. It would be far easier for you to ignore the sin and act like you did not know and have their favor.
Ultimately though, the discipline of a Christian who will not repent is for the protection of the body of Christ. The protection is twofold. First, if someone sees a sin go unanswered, they may be tempted and succumb to the same sin themselves. Thus the sin begins to spread like cancer in the congregation. We already read, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”
Secondly, if sinners see the sin of the Christian, they will doubt the veracity of the congregation. We see that the church must be protected from sin within the camp as well as protecting her testimony to the world. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 of the Christian’s testimony to the world, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Unrepentant Christians are ruining the reputation of the church in America today. Congregations unwilling to exercise Biblical judgment and discipline in their bodies have allowed sins as bad as that in Corinth to fester in the visible church. This has led, I feel, in a big way to the rampant immorality many denominations penetrating to the highest levels of leadership. I believe it is this failure to judge and discipline which set the ground work for homosexuals to demand ecclesiastical acknowledgement and authority within many Protestant denominations. It is a horrible disgrace to the church and a sign that time is short.
I would suggest that you bear this in mind when you see sin in the camp and when you see someone professing to be a Christian but teaching a false doctrine in your church. Do not hesitate to follow the exacting Biblical standard set forth by our Lord and Savior as well as Paul and the disciples. There is no compromise with the devil, only surrender. A conqueror is the one to set the terms of surrender. The defeated must accept whatever is tossed to them.
We know that we are more than conquerors through the Christ, our Lord. Therefore, we need not accept any terms. We do not have to compromise. Paul said in Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
We have been given the authority to deal with problems and sin in the church. It is up to us to enforce the rules given us by God. It is not easy and Jesus did not address the difficulty of the duty, just the execution of that duty. If we do not discipline ourselves and our members, then, the churches of this country might as well close their doors.
If we do not discipline and accept discipline from God, we are bastards and not the children of God! A church in sin is worse than an empty church. It is better to have 20 true Christians on fire for God in a church than to have a host of sinners posing as Christians and acting in the name of the Lord against the Word of the Lord. The best way the devil can ruin the church’s witness to this world is to get a few of his sons in the church proclaiming the name of Jesus while practicing their sins before the world.
May God preserve and keep His elect. Amen.