Sunday, February 25, 2018 am                                            NT Church Index


The Purity of the Church (2)
Church Discipline

     Last week we began discussing the purity of the church.  We noted the need for purity as Christ gave Himself for His church, to present her without spot or blemish.  We also noted that we all have a responsibility – members (we are described as saints – holy ones), elders and preachers (teachers) all bear responsibility to keep the church pure. As we continue our study of purity in the church, today we want to address an unpleasant, but needed subject: Discipline.   

     What does a lack of discipline do?  Consider our society?  Consider families that fail to discipline.  So likewise, a failure to enact discipline within a local congregation is a danger to its purity.  And the Bible says such.

 I.                     Discipline in scripture

a.       The correct order – Matthew 18:15-18.  Withdrawing from a brother only comes after several attempts to bring about repentance.

b.       Romans 16:17 – note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine

c.        1 Corinthians 5:1-7 – a case of discipline that is needed

d.       2 Thessalonians 3:6 – in the name of the Lord Jesus, withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly

 II.                   What is Church Discipline?

a.       Defined – we often use the term to describe the final step, but the idea of disciple goes much further than that.  Proper discipline begins with teaching and training, and when necessary rebuke or other means to prevent the need to withdraw from someone.  
However, sometimes the word is used to describe that final step, much in the same way that the judgment of God is sometimes used to describe punishment, as opposed to God weighing all the facts and making a judgment.
OUR focus in this study is dealing with when there is a need to withdraw fellowship from someone.

b.       Discipline is NOT an act of vengeance (Romans 12:19).  It is not about getting even with someone, or about punishing them (though it involves punishment - cf. 2 Corinthians 2:6, that is not its goal). 
Its purpose is to restore an erring brother – 1 Corinthians 5:5 – you “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved.”
Jude 22-23 speaks of having compassion on some, but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire.  
Matthew 18:15 – when you go to you brother who has sinned (against you), the goal Is to gain your brother.
Hebrews 12:11 – no chastening seems joyful, but in the end it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
James 5:19-20 – when one turns him back, he saves a soul from death and covers a multitude of sins.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 – we do not keep company with one “that he may be ashamed.”

c.        Necessary for maintaining the purity of a congregation – 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

III.                 Who is to be withdrawn from (marked)

a.       Those who refuse to repent – Matthew 18:18. Again, this text indicates one who refuses to make correction.

b.       Those living in sin– 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 – here we have a man who has his father’s wife (adultery, fornication).    VS. 11 describes several sins for which we must “not keep company with anyone named a brother”, including fornication, covetousness, idolatry, reviling, drunkards and extortioners.

c.        Those teaching error – 2 Timothy 2:16-18 – shun profane and idle babblings, 2 John 9-11 – one who does not bring the doctrine of Christ, do not receive him…
Titus 1:10-11 – elders entrusted with stopping the mouths of idle talkers and deceivers.
Romans 16:17 – those causing divisions, contrary to the doctrine which you learned….

d.       Those causing division – Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10, 1 Timothy 1:19-20 – Paul delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan.

e.       Those walking disorderly – 2 Thessalonians 3:6 – this could be one who has forsaken the saints (not assembling, etc.), one who is seeking to cause trouble among brethren (this might be the divisive man), one who refuses to be admonished by the elders, etc. 

 IV.                 How are we to treat one who has been withdrawn from. 

a.       We are to withdraw from them – 2 Thessalonians 3:6. The idea of this word is to avoid, abstain from familiar company.  WE cut off fellowship with them.
It is not just a ceremonial act, but a way we must behave.  Romans 16:17 – mark (identify and avoid).  The point is there needs to be a clear understanding that all is not well spiritually.
While the act of withdrawing is a collective action (when we come together), we as individuals have responsibilities toward the withdrawn.

b.       It is typically not the first step.  It is more akin to the last step, when all other efforts have failed.  Matthew 18:15-18
Titus 3:10 – first and second admonition
Do NOT act hastily – consider the attitude of the one being disciplined.  Are they genuinely trying?  Are they humble or rebellious?  Etc.  1 Timothy 5:22 – do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure. 

c.        A change in social relationship – 1 Corinthians 5:11- do not keep company with, not even to eat with such a person.  2 John 9-11 – do not receive him into your house, nor greet him.
2 Thessalonians 3:14 – have not company with them

d.       Let your actions be the product of love – 1 Timothy 1:5, he was instructed to not tolerate ungodly teaching.   The purpose was love from a pure heart,…
1 Corinthians 16:14, let all that you do be done with love

e.       Do not treat him as an enemy – 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
Galatians 6:1 – a spirit of gentleness. Never forget he/she is a fallen brother in danger of losing their soul. 
NOTE: We need consistency in this – in our lives and in dealing with the disciplined.  Both in WHO we discipline and HOW we discipline.  Don’t show favoritism.
NOTE: Yes there are extenuating circumstances – e.g. family responsibilities, but even then there needs to be an understanding that sinful behavior is not approved of. 

f.         When they repent, restore them - 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 – reaffirm your love for him.
Rejoice that a soul has been saved from death (James 5:19-20), etc. 
Make it genuine!


Be reminded we do not withdraw from someone because it gives us pleasure.  It ought to grieve us when we do this.  But it is necessary for the purity of the church and in hopes of saving that soul.   God says so!  We must understand this as we practice discipline.  One withdrawn from needs to feel it.  NOT that he is treated hatefully, but there is a CHANGE in relationship and conduct toward that one. 

NOTE: Discipline is totally ineffective if true fellowship was not present in the first place.  What are we doing to keep the church pure?