Last week, we touched on the qualities or characteristics that must be present in order for a church to practice church discipline in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting manner.
The natural question that comes to many people’s minds is this: What conditions or circumstances would require the exercising of church discipline, specifically corrective church discipline?
Formative discipline should be taking place consistently through small group discipleship classes like Sunday school and through one to one relationships where “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). These relationships need to be cultivated so that we can lovingly confront sins in each other’s lives in order that we might all grow toward Christ-likeness (Matthew 7:1-5). We all have “rough edges” and “blind spots” in our character formation where we need others to lovingly admonish and exhort us toward the gospel to overcome those sins.
However, there are times when a person who has been confronted about their sin and refuses to confess and repent of that sin. There are several factors that would determine the proper course of action in a particular set of circumstances on a larger scale.
The following must be evaluated by much prayer and scripture investigation:
- · The ongoing nature of the sin
- · The public or private nature of the sin
- · The attitude of the wayward church member
- · The effect the sin is having on the church (unity, fellowship, and witness)
Evaluating the answers to these questions are helpful in deciding what the proper course of action is in the particular situation.
Christ Fellowship Church in Kansas City uses the following categories to guide them through this process of determining the course of action to take:
· Minor Faults
· Unverifiable sins (gossip)
· Personal Offenses
· Public Disobedience
· Insufferable wickedness
One thing that must be said is that God hates all sins. We try to separate “big” sins from “little” sins, but there really is no distinction. The distinction can only be made with respect to the immediate consequences of one sin versus another. All sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4).
Next week…the conclusion to our series on Church Discipline.