Means of Grace- Church Discipline
Many consider church discipline one of the ways God blesses His Church, the means of grace. That may sound strange but stay with me. Even though we may not have thought of it this way it’s good to get a new perspective. Consider this: a believer has slipped into some sort of sin and it’s exposed. How does church leadership respond in an attempt to maintain purity in the Body and encourage holiness in their lives? If it’s with grace and truth, always a healthy balance, then the question becomes, “How does a believer respond to church discipline?” It becomes a heart issue.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT
This shows us that God indeed wants to see repentance and sorrow when our sin is brought to light, not a good defense or resentment. This godly pain, brought about by exposure, is used by the Holy Spirit to bring rescue and deliverance from that sin. Church discipline, when done in love, is sanctioned by Christ Himself in Matt. 18:15-20. Here, Jesus gives what some churches call the Power of the Keys but nevertheless there is a process to be followed, steps to take, to confront an offense within the Church.
Jesus gives his Church, His beloved Bride, the responsibility to maintain unity and reconciliation with steps to correction. It’s meant to bless the Body, not hurt it; it’s meant to bring restoration to the household of faith and this brings honor to Jesus Christ. There’s no doubt that church discipline is difficult and often hurtful but with the right attitude on both sides Jesus’ words will be upheld:
“… and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:18 NLT
Good parents discipline their kids; they are responsible before God to teach them right from wrong in love. It’s no different in the family of God; we sometimes need correction that leads to holiness.
… Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Ephesians 5:25b-27 NLT
When a believer acknowledges his error it’s up to the rest of us to extend love and forgiveness so that reconciliation within the body of Christ is restored.
Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:7-8 NLT