Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Commands of Christ - Matthew 18:15-17

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” -Matthew 18:15-17

Who is this command spoken to?

Matthew 18:1 indicates for us that Jesus is addressing His disciples, but verse 2 seems to suggest there are more people present. Nevertheless, Jesus is clearly instructing His disciples here.

What does this command require?

This command requires that we pursue reconciliation between our brothers. We do this by 1) seeking our brother who has sinned against us face to face, 2) taking one or two witnesses if the first meeting was not successful, 3) telling the matter to the church if this is unsuccessful as well, and 4) if all else fails, put the offender out of the church and consider him a heathen.

What truths do we learn from this command?

Reconciliation is important. Jesus gives a detailed plan for pursuing reconciliation. Very few commands of Christ are given with so much detail in carrying them out. The details given make this command one of the easiest to follow, yet this is one of the most neglected of the commands of Christ. Take a quick glance at church life and you will not see this command carried out very much. Perhaps it is because most sin issues are already being solved face to face between brothers. But it is more likely that sin is being swept under the rug and brothers in Christ are ignoring the rift in their relationship, sometimes even for years at a time.

Sin between brothers in Christ is a serious matter. So serious, in fact, that if not resolved, the sinning brother is to be considered a heathen.

Second Corinthians 5:18-21 details for us that each believer has been reconciled to God through Christ and, subsequently, have been given the ministry of reconciliation. That means that you and I are responsible for seeking and promoting reconciliation between men and God. Yes, this does not mention sins between brothers, but when someone is reconciled to God, it follows that they will make things right between brothers also.

What are the consequences for disobeying this command?

Destroyed fellowship between believers and between the sinning brother and God (Psalm 66:18), More people involved in a matter than necessary (if resolved between brothers, it spares the church)

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