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Church Discipline

(The following is the July 13 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 5 and pay close attention to verses 9-13.)

Church discipline is neither easy nor enjoyable, but God’s Word commands us to do it. We are responsible for presenting a pure bride (church) to Christ, the bridegroom. We can’t do that and knowingly allow rampant sin in the church. We can’t ignore the sinful actions of those who claim to know Christ but who undermine the authority of God’s Word and the church’s witness in the world.

The goal of church discipline is to bring the person back into a proper relationship with Christ and others, living according to biblical truth. The goal is not to shame or shun people but to warn them of sin’s seriousness, lead them to repentance and submission to Christ and his Word, and restore them to the church family.

Paul’s instructions are challenging but necessary: “I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise, you would have to leave the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you” (vv. 9-13).

Confronting others in the church who have fallen into sin requires difficult conversations. We can’t guarantee their response, but we must obey God’s Word and follow his process with love for everyone involved, trusting that God’s way is best for all.

Next Step:

Have you witnessed or ever been involved in an instance of church discipline? If so, was it handled in a biblically sound manner in light of Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13? What was the result? Should it have been handled differently?

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