Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dealing With Those Who Do Wrong

"Brethern, 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." Galatians 6:1

Paul leaves no doubt that some Christians will get caught up in sin with this verse. Truly spiritual men will recognize their susceptibility to temptation themselves. As a result, their method of dealing with him will not be from a position of superiority, but in humility.

He instructs Timothy about the same thing in II Timothy 2:24-26. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

The previous verses deal with both doctrinal error and physical sin. As a servant of God, we are not to be pugnacious. I remember those who used to brag of being fighting fundamentalists. Paul specifically forbids such an attitude.

When I was in High School, Dad bought an old donkey named Jenny. Jenny was some what slow moving, but amazingly careful to protect us kids. Other mounts would charge through gates and around corners and I had had my knee banged very badly by a horse cutting too close to a tree at a run. The knee still causes me trouble.

Whenever she thought there was danger of a leg or pack hitting something, Jenny would stop and very carefully work her way through, making sure that no contact was made, even when it caused her pain.

This is the meaning of the word gentle when Paul says a man of God must be gentle unto all men. We must go out of our way to prevent hurt to others, even if it causes ourselves to suffer distress to do so. To thrust them out of the church immediately, or publicly rebuke or humiliate them, rather than trying to restore them is deliberate disobedience to God's command. Many times those who err are hotly condemned, even though God forbids such an approach.

The goal is to teach them the proper way, patiently and meekly instructing them. Not in pride attacking them or offending them by our way of handling the situation. Many times Church discipline is used as a way of getting rid of those who have done wrong either as a way to prove our adherence to the scripture, or to demonstrate our power. It is wrong in either case.

To obey God in this matter is to give a possibility that they may repent, and escape Satans trap.
To disobey will almost certainly drive them more deeply into his power, as I have observed on several occasions.

This is exactly what Jesus was talking about in 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 heart thee, then take with tee 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."

The goal is not to get the person out, but rather to bring him more closely in. If the person refuses to listen then it is deliberate sin and I Timothy 5:20 tells us, "Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear."

Scripturally, The authority to put a person out rests in the church, not in the pastor, and in I Corinthians 5:4-5, this is clearly expressed. "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."

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