To Love God And To Love What Is Evil
1 John 5:1-5
5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Whenever we think of the word “Love”, we will always have a positive reaction towards the meaning of the word. To non-believers, I would not think that they will find anything negative
About the word “Love”. To them the word “Love” will always be a positive thing, and a good thing. There is nothing negative or bad with the word “Love”.
As Christians…children of God, can we find anything wrong or negative with the word “Love”?
Can we always look at the word “Love” in a positive way, and never in a fearful, negative way?
The truth is, when it comes to word “Love”, to the believer…there is a line we cannot cross.
Believe it or not, it’s true!
1 John 2:15
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Now that is one scary warning isn’t it! God is giving you and I choice, a warning. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” So, the believer has a choice to make here. “Love the things of the world, and the love of the Father is not in him”.
From our opening verse, we can see that, loving God has more to do with obeying Him than anything else. Our text (1 John 5:3) says, "THIS IS LOVE FOR GOD: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS."
1 John 5:3
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Obedience is the sign of our love for God. Jesus made this truth very clear when in John 14:15 He said to His disciples, "IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU WILL OBEY WHAT I COMMAND." It is very clear, our love for God is expressed through obedience.
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Obedience is what God is looking for from you and I. Loving God has more to do with obeying Him than anything else. This obedience is exhibited in three areas of our lives and they are our concern this afternoon.
First is Believing:
We love God when we take Him at His Word, believing it and acting upon it. "When He says we are forgiven, we believe Him and unload the guilt. When He says we’re valuable, we believe Him. When He says we have eternal life, we believe Him and bury our fear. When He says He will meet our needs, we believe Him and stop worrying.
We express genuine love to God when we believe Him and act on His Word. God has made it abundantly clear in His Word that we are all lost sinners in desperate need of forgiveness and reconciliation. He has said that our sin is an enormous problem that separates us from Him.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God, because of His love for His children, made a Way. And that is through His Son.
Second, Holy Living:
Holy living is another way we profess love to God. Verse 3 of our text says, "THIS IS LOVE FOR GOD: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS." "This leads us to one place, the Word of God. We must know His commandments and then obey them." This is the secret to loving God on a daily basis.
Our love of God is expressed by living the way He commands. Living the way God commands is what the Scriptures mean by holiness. Holy living is loving God.
1 Peter 1:16
16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Of course this can only be possible if the One who is truly holy, is living in you. Without the work of the Holy Spirit… being obedience would be an impossible task. We are expected to live according to God’s ways and standards.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
We must not live by the sinful ways and standards that the world finds acceptable. We are to please God by living in the light of His ways. Living the way God commands is a matter of obedience.
Living a holy life does not mean, instant perfection. We go through the process of what is called, sanctification. For as long as we are in the flesh, that is the process that we will go through. There will be days of failure and stumbling, but through all of those comes a great lesson to repent.
Holiness really is Christ-likeness. As such it is every believer’s calling, it is not an option. Now, listen carefully, you can hear messages, preaching, all day long for the rest of your life. Pastors, preachers, CANNOT!!! Teach you how to love God. I stand up here every Sunday and tell you to, “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” And it would not matter. I can have our media post every verse there is, every word of God on our powerpoint, and would not matter, if you don’t believe and obey what is written in front of you.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”. God, in His power has ordained, predestined those who are His to be conformed in the likeness of His Son. Not the other way around. As we mature in the faith we are to become more and more like Christ. It is an ever-expanding openness to God. It is a growing, maturing, freely given conformity to the will of God. It is obedience and it enables us to become the people we were created to be. That is why He said, “And His commandments are not burdensome”.
We also love God by serving Him. Love serves. Now I am not just talking about joining a ministry, you and I serve God each day in the way we live our lives. Our we living selfishly, or are we living for God and for others.
In Luke 7 I know everyone here is familiar with this story. Jesus was at a dinner party. It was customary to wash the dusty feet of the guests upon their arrival.
Simon, the host, failed to do this, it was a breach of etiquette. He also neglected to offer the traditional kiss of greeting. Furthermore, he didn’t offer to anoint his guest with oil, a special amenity of the day. If you and I were living then and found ourselves in such a situation we would have concluded, and rightly so, that we were really not welcome guests.
But what Simon failed to provide someone else did in a most unusual and unexpected manner. A woman, hearing Jesus was there, entered, came to the table where Jesus was eating and showed her love for the Lord. She was weeping and with her tears she washed the Lord’s feet. And when she had finished washing she wiped His feet with her hair. Then, as Luke records, she began to kiss His feet and she anointed the feet of Jesus with an expensive ointment. What an example of love.
Jesus used this incident to teach an important biblical truth. He said that two debtors each owed the same creditor. One debtor owed 500 pence, almost ½ a year’s wages. Other debtor owed 50 pence. Neither were able to pay, so the creditor graciously forgave both debts. Jesus then asked Simon, the host, a question: “Which of them will love him most?”
Easy question, Simon answered immediately: “I suppose that he who was forgiven the most.” “You’re right,” said Jesus. Jesus then turned to the woman and said “What she did she did because she loves Me very much.”(7:47) The one who has been forgiven much loves much.
Jesus was saying that if we love God we will do what He asks, willingly, joyously and freely. We will obey the command to serve Him. If no love exists then there will be little or no service or it will be rendered grudgingly, complainingly and unwillingly. The fact of the matter is that love serves. Those who love God demonstrate their love through acts and deeds of service. It is first and foremost a matter of love. If we love God we will serve Him. And not the fesh.
Loving God is our greatest responsibility and privilege. We must, however, always remember that our love for God is the consequence of His great, unconditional love for us. 1 John 4:19 says, "WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.
1 John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.
Loving us He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the just penalty of our sins. Through His love for us in Christ, we are offered forgiveness and reconciliation. We can live our lives of a higher, more fulfilling and satisfying life. We become, as Scripture says, “A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST”.
“We love Him because He first loved us”. Maybe that is the real challenge to some, how much do we love God? If we have not felt His love, how can we really love Him? How can we love the Lord our God with all our heart, if we have not felt His love?
Let me ask you this, how much have you been forgiven because of Gods Love? A little, a lot?
Past, present & future sins forgiven, washed by His blood, I say that’s a lot! No longer chained to sin, no eternity in hell! I say that’s a lot, right! So, now…measure the amount of forgiveness you have received, because of Gods love. And compare it to how much you love your God!
What I just said, was not a means to condemn you. it was meant to hopefully open your eyes, open your to God truth. In the beginning of this message, I had mentioned that, when it comes to “Love”. “there is a line we cannot cross. Believe it or not, it’s true!”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is a command, its non-negotiable! It’s a contract signed in blood. By His blood! There should be nothing in this world that can come between you and your love for the Lord.
If there is, there lies the problem.
1 John 2:15
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
So…what is in the world that can divide our love for our Lord. Remember, because of Gods love, we have been forgiven, and promised eternity with Him in heaven. So, what is in the world that can divide our love for our Lord? Well… lets have the Lord answer that…
2 Timothy 3:1-5
3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
“Lovers of self”. The selfish type of love. Where its my will be done, instead of God’s. My focus is me alone, my money, my property, my happiness, im only looking out for me! The word love is there. Scary right!
“lovers of money”.
1 Timothy 6:10
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The love of money, the love to want more of it, rather than more of God. The focus has become the career, overtime, no more time for worship. Now listen, there is nothing wrong with getting ahead of things, saving up for a rainy day, or in an emergency. But money, the love for money should never compete with your love for God.
25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?
When is it enough? According to scriptures, we have just read them. Money will be your god. You will want all that you can have, and you will have them, but you will loose your soul. All the money in the world will be yours, but you will never be with the Lord in heaven. You cannot take that money with you, you cannot buy your ticket to heaven, with all the money in the world. You will keep chasing it and chasing, like a drug, it will be your death. Your downfall.
“boaster, proud, blasphemers”
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Same area as loving self. My accomplishments are all mine. Everything I have is by my blood and sweat. Im a self-made man. I don’t need anyone, not even God. Jesus was talking about the religious leaders here, in this verse. No different than from our time now. Popularity has become a god.
“disobedient to parents”
That’s no surprise. If our children are not influenced by the parents to love the Lord. Our children will grow to love the world.
That still falls under self love. Never been changed, no new life, no born again experience. Still chained in sin.
“unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”
All of that is the product of loving self, the things of this world, rather than loving God.
The scary part about all of this is…we will witness all of it. In the church, amongst our brothers and sisters. Our own family member, our parents our children, everyone around us.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but how much do you love your God?
Do love your God because you have felt His love and forgiveness?
These questions fall on me also, remember, it hits me first.
I do hope and pray that this message did open hearts, our minds to Gods truth. Satan tempted Jesus with the things of this world.
Jesus was hungry, satan tempted with food.
If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.
Satan offers you and I the same thing simply because we need food to survive.
(work, money, career, and so on)
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
The devil took Jesus to the highest point of the temple and said….
“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’
The devil tempted Jesus for His well being, will God really protect Him. Will God really protect you and i?
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’
Gods promises are true. There is no need to test God when it comes to His promises. Because He is not a liar. If you are His, you are valuable.
“ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Satan offers the same thing, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” He offers the same thing to you and i. the whole world is yours, fall down and worship me” that’s the devil!
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’
So… “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Or take satans offer and love the things of the world and lose your soul!
To Love God And To Love What Is Evil, the truth is, we cannot have both.
The choice is yours, but to some of us here, God made the choice and the response is through obedience!
1 Corinthians 5:1-5
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Church… I hope you still remember the message from two weeks ago, Church Discipline. When we learned about involving the church, when it comes to sin, and conflict, within the body. This afternoon, I have used the same title, so…look at it like a part two lesson on Church discipline.
From the message two weeks ago we learned from the book of Matthew 18:15-17….recap:
15 “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. 16 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.’ 17 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.
In the that study we saw a dispute amongst believer. One on one, if that doesn’t work, take along witnesses to judge between the two believers, if that still doesn’t work, bring it to the church. Involving the church is the last resort. The church…the whole body of believers, needs to be involved in judging between the two. And again, the goal is to win the believer back.
If you have done all that you can, you have gone through the process as the Lord instructs, and the guilty believer still CHOOSES, not to repent. Sadly, that member needs to be removed from the body, so that he or she cannot infect the whole church. Remember, “a little leaven, leavens the whole lump”.
Keep in mind that church discipline has to be the most hardest thing a church has to go through. Its not anything to be joyful about, it will involve one of our own. One who at one point fellowshipped with the whole church. One who was loved, involved in all the church activity, then all of a sudden, because of sin… will be removed from the body.
Its not easy, its not joyful, it hurts a lot, but we have to remember that the church is Gods church. Not one man should decide the fate of the fallen believer. If the church does not respond to the ways and will of the Lord, then He can easily take it away. The church is His, we are just part of His body, joined together through Jesus!
Now…lets look at our text, let break it down verse by verse, so we can get the full understanding of what the Apostle Paul is trying to teach…commanding the Corinth church of what to do.
1 Corinthians 5:1-2
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
The whole chapter is summed up in these two verses, there are three main points Paul makes.
“actually reported” is an unusual phrase for Paul, but it essentially means. “People are saying” “Everyone is talking about it”. The idea is that the story of what happened in Corinth had become front page news. It’s no longer an issue between two believers. When the news reached Paul that there was a Corinthian sexual scandal… only it wasn’t a scandal, but a story on how “tolerant” these Christians were being. They were allowing it to happen. Look at
“2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you”.
In other translations, “you are arrogant, you are proud”. The heart of that church should have been broken. Paul said, “and have not mourned”. What was happening was so widespread it had reached Paul in Ephesus.
We’re not just talking about cheating on your income taxes to Rome here – but on a kind of sin that even the pagans around would cringe at. This is a NO-NO, even to the times of the Old Testament. Here…
8 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.
Paul was shocked, an acceptance of the sin, even pride in tolerating the sin. Far from tolerating it, the people should have dealt with the sin, and not fellowshipped with this guy until he repented.
The pride of the Corinthians is the same word for “arrogant”. They were proud of their divisions and proud of their tolerance for sin. It was news to everyone around that church. It brought shame to the Corinth church, and when that happens, who’s name is being ruined? JESUS!!!
That is why Paul was upset, it was ruing the name of Jesus, and Paul was not fine with it. The church should not be fine with it. It’s not ok!!!
One other thing you will notice, the focus was only with the man committing the sin. Why wasn’t the woman…the stepmom involved in this accusation? It was never mentioned or written, but most likely, this woman was not a member of the church or even a believer. So, this man has committed two sins. Incest, which is sexual immorality, and being yoked with an unbeliever.
Look…I get it, the whole dating game, I get it. The world says its ok, so the Christian listens to the world rather than God. You meet someone there’s a connection there, hopefully this is the one? Listen…as a pastor, a believer, I am not that strict when it comes to the whole dating thing. Because you’ll never know, you might be the one God uses to reach to this person. This person might just fall in love with Jesus the way you do.
But, I will not marry anyone who has a different belief than we do. If its not biblical, its not in accordance to Gods will, I will not do it. If that will upset the individual, so be it. But I will not upset my Lord by going against His will. Even if the world says, its ok.
If you are having a physical relationship, outside of marriage, you have fallen under the sin of sexual immorality. Living in, one-night stands, all that nonsense where the world says its ok. Its not ok with our Lord. Later, through this chapter God will explain His judgement on such things.
1 Corinthians 5:3
3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.
An Easier translation:
1 Corinthians 5:3 (NIV)
3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.
Paul say’s “I don’t need to be there to know what to do, I don’t need a fact finding mission or to hear this guy’s side of the story, this should be a no-brainer.”
1 Corinthians 5:4-5
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Paul is not calling for a ceremony where someone would say “Okay, Satan, here he is, come get him”, and the Devil would arrive and carry the guy off kicking and screaming to be tortured until he confessed his sin.
But the body of Christ needs to agree that this guy is not to be fellowshipped with. It effectively removes the covering of the church… the insulation and puts this guy in an atmosphere where the true effects of his sin will come out.
That is why its important for a believer to part of a Body, to be a member of a church, because you will be protected. If you truly belong to Christ, you should belong to a body where, the rest of the members will care for your well-being.
“deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”. If you think that Paul is being harsh, being hard on this church, on this believer, look at what he is saying, Paul cares about this mans salvation. Look… “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.
Paul cares about this man. Sometimes when we do things that are in direct disobedience to God’s Word we don’t see the full impact because we are surrounded by other Christians and the atmosphere of the church, which is filled with love and acceptance.
But remove that influence (love, acceptance, fellowship within the church) and we begin to see just how depraved we are. We become all alone, no more fellowship, no more breaking bread in remembrance of our Lord. Paul wants the enemy to have more access to this guy, not so that he’ll be punished, but so that he’ll realize what he’s doing is wrong and to turn away from it. He’s not going to turn away, if the church not only doesn’t let him know that what he’s doing is wrong, he will actually accept it to be ok!
Listen very carefully church. If you belong to God, satan has no access to you unless its been commanded by our Lord. Satan CANNOT touch you without, Gods permission. If you want to know more insights on this matter, read the book of Job.
Sin, if not dealt with, does the same thing. We’re talking here about open sin, I know each one of us has things that the Lord is dealing with, failures that we have. I’m not suggesting that each of us stand up and admit every weakness we have. I’m talking about sin that everyone knows about.
If you fail to deal with it then the enemy can start working in a pattern of sin…“Hey, if this guy did this and everyone is okay with it, then what I want to do or are doing isn’t nearly that bad so why repent?” Pretty soon you have a church filled with sin, and the gospel, which represents a way of escaping sin becomes useless. If the wages of sin are in tolerance by the body, instead of death, why do we need salvation?
Now…we will come to the last few verses of this whole chapter. Gods judgement, and what is the church to do. How do we judge someone in accordance to Gods commands?
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Those of us who have heard God’s Word are also without excuse. If God is putting His finger on something in your life, you can’t just ignore it and say “Gee, I didn’t know.” If what you are reading today new to you, then you are now without excuse. YES!!! This is Gods words. Obey it, disobey it, God is your judge.
1 Corinthians 5:10-11
10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
The Christian life is not expected to be lived in a monastery. Like Jesus, we are expected to mix with those who are not saved, people who are still in sin. No, we shouldn’t say to them: “what you do is great, I’m so proud of you.” No, our message is “God loves you and doesn’t want you to suffer the consequences for your rebellion against Him, so He made a way to rescue you by His Son Jesus.” That’s not condemning, nor is it tolerant, it’s the gospel.
But if one of your brothers is openly sinning opening, rebelling against the revealed will of God in His word, then our actions should be different. This person should know better… we should avoid them and not partake in their sin. Lovingly confront them.
“Hey, I’m headed down to the bar to get really wasted after Bible Study, why don’t you invite a bunch of people from the Fellowship and we’ll go there together.” No. Again, its not saying that everyone has to be perfect, but that open rebellion against God will infect you if you let it.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
What Paul is saying here is very clear, the church, you and I, have no busyness judging outsiders. They will all face God one day, and the judgement has been set. What Paul is commanding here, of course it is guided by the Holy Spirit, is to judge those inside, those that are part of Gods body.
Witnesses are present, accusations are proven, then set proper judgement according to Gods word. But even as we don’t judge or condemn those on the outside of the church, there is a responsibility to judge what’s going on in the church. Another way to say this verse is “Its none of our business to judge what people do outside the church, but it is our responsibility to judge what goes on inside.
This type of judging was always mentioned in the Old Testament…
19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.
The Lord told the Israel to purge the evil from Canaan or it would influence them. They didn’t purge and were influenced greatly by the culture. And that’s what happens in the church if open… unrepentant sin is allowed to fester or even worse is embraced.
So then how do we do this? How do you tell the difference between identifying and rooting out sin in the body and not behave like witch hunters and become divisive?
1. Differentiate between fleshly acts and sinful acts.
I know this is a bit of a fine line, but Paul seems to suggest that you treat the situation differently if someone is sincerely trying to serve God, but their fleshly nature is getting in the way and they are acting arrogantly or divisively.
In that case his encouragement is for us to complement each other, not compete against each other and to act humbly, knowing that it is the Lord’s work we are together trying to accomplish. But you don’t disfellowship. So first determine the nature of the problem.
2. Restore then Remove
Paul wrote to the Galatians: 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
The word “restore” means to repair. When someone is caught in a sin… the more mature Christians should try to repair the brother or sister, talk with them, share lovingly with them, encourage them to seek help and seek God. That is always our first course.
In this case, though no one was seeking to “restore” the brother, they were almost celebrating the sin! “Living with” denotes a continual commission of sin, not a one time act. So, when someone is “caught up” in sin, its different than when they are embracing sin.
It doesn’t mean anyone’s being condemned to hell, Jesus paid for ALL our sins. But it may mean there is no benefit to the individual by staying, but the potential of great harm if they don’t go.
3. How do you identify and deal with sin your own life?
There is also application to our own personal lives. Ask yourself, what is reported about me? When people talk about me when I’m not around, especially non-Christians, what do they say about me? If it would be hard for someone to recognize you as a Christian without you telling them, perhaps it’s time to go on a “sin hunt.”
Keep in mind that whatever sin we do openly, doesn’t just ruin our reputation as Christians, its basically ruing the name of Jesus Christ.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
And if you have asked God to search your heart, and sin has been revealed, what you do after will tell you how much you love your God. Will you obey and ask God to help you resist the sin, by His power. Or will you continue to do the sin, regardless of the consequence?
If you remember from our bible study, by handing this man over to satan, he ended up repenting from his sin, and was accepted back into the fellowship.
2 Corinthians 2:5-11
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
God knows those that are His. He will not let one of His own live a life of sin, or still be controlled by sin. If sin is still your god, then you have not been released from its bondage.
Then you really need to seek the Lord for forgiveness, and pray to be made new. God will judge the world one day, and that judgement will not be good. And you don’t want to be here when He does.
15 “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. 16 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.’ 17 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. 18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
This afternoon, we will be dealing with a topic that we have only discussed in our bible studies. Its normally brought about in a form of a question. But I don’t think that I have preached on this topic before. I know that not everyone here gets to attend our studies simply because of work schedule. So, this afternoon we will have a study on this topic, and not so much of sermon, so that we can get the full understanding of these verses.
Who is responsible? Who’s guilty? Who decides the fate of the guilty? How much proof do I need to confront a brother or sister? Are we suppose to kick them out, and never see them again? Do these questions sound familiar to you? Are they running around in your mind right now? Well, if so, lets let the word of God give us clarity on this topic, shall we.
In our lives there are a lot of things we don’t like to do. Yet, we have to do them because we are the only ones uniquely qualified to do that particular task. The same is true with Church Discipline. No one really likes going through the process. In all my years, I have witnessed church discipline twice. And let me tell you, in both cases, no left the church happy, or joyful in what was witnessed.
Of course, how could anyone be joyful after such event? We are dealing with friends and in some cases even relatives who have fallen, and yet the Scriptures state that we as Christians are the only ones who can use this extreme measure, in an attempt to restore them back to their relationship with the Lord.
Yet this is exactly the position that as a Christian we find ourselves in. As a Christian our lives are not our own anymore (2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 2:20)
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
And of course, a verse we are all familiar with…
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
These passages tell us that as Christians our lives are no longer ours to live as we chose. We live our lives according to the Word of God and that Word includes accepting the responsibility and accountability to administer Church Discipline should it be needed.
If we look closely at the Matthew passage, four different groups of people are established, therefore I would suggest to you today that burdens of accountability and responsibility fall on all four!
1. The individual Christian in the Church (Verse 15)
2. The fallen brother or sister (Verses 15-18)
3. The witnesses (Verse 16)
4. The Church congregation. (Verse 17)
We will also see that ultimately as a Church we will stand accountable and responsible to God for our actions in attempting to restore a fallen brother or sister.
1: THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN IN THE CHURCH.
Jesus addresses the individual concerning Church Discipline in verse 15.
15 “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.
It tells us that if a brother sins against you, it is your responsibility to go to the brother or sister and attempt to make it right. Don’t run to your church leaders, or members of the church on this matter. The command is “YOU”. There is much to look at before we get to this stage. We must also realize that as a member of a congregation, we also have the responsibility to make sure that the process is done in a just and biblical manner, with restoration the ultimate goal.
We must consider our own walk with the Lord. We need to make sure that our Christian walk measures up to Biblical standards. Now, no one can do this perfectly, we will always have sin in our lives that we need to confess, repent of, and make right. This is what Jesus is referring to in Matthew 7:1-6.
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Jesus is instructing us first to make sure that our lives are in order, to remove the plank in our own eye, before we attempt to remove the speck in our brothers. We must examine the fault and seriously consider whether it is of such stature to warrant going to a brother. In many cases the offender doesn’t even realize an offence has been committed.
But note this very carefully. You can only choose this option when you are the offended party and no others are involved. You may also choose to do this, only if it does not cause your brother to fall deeper into sin. You are your brother’s keeper. If our silence is going to lead the brother or sister to fall deeper into sin, then we must confront the situation.
This would include anything that could present potential harm, either physically or spiritually to the offender. Our motivations have to be again… be for the best interests of the offending person. Just as the advertisement that says "Good friends don’t let friends drink and drive", so to "good Christian brothers and sisters, don’t allow other Christian brothers or sisters fall into sin."
We must realize that sin is like an Octopus in that it has tentacles that go in many directions. Unconfronted sin in the church can be like this, that it can have consequences on many people in the church. As individuals we have the responsibility to make sure that… should the situation arise where discipline is needed, that the proper biblical method is followed. We must be sure of the truth. Our testimony must be eye witness, not taken from a second person’s account.
The individual in the church shares the responsibility of making sure that church discipline is carried out in a positive way, with the end goals of restoration and forgiveness. Church discipline is by it’s biblical nature designed by Jesus to be positive, and so must our intentions be. It was never designed to eliminate a problem by eliminating the person.
2: THE FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTER
The fallen brother or sister has several responsibilities in the process of Church Discipline. Some of these are obvious, while others fall by the wayside during the emotion of the process. The first responsibility of the Christian is always to be open to correction. Keep in mind that not everyone in a church knows all of Gods command.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
In saying this, I realize that the levels of correction will be different. It’s one thing to deal with the sin of slander or gossip, it’s another thing to deal with the sin of adultery, or murder. Some people simply may not be aware that they are offending someone or may need to be shown better ways of dealing with situations and the correction is complete. The unique thing that happens here is that when sins such as jealousy, envy, gossip, and so on, are dealt with successfully on a private basis, the restoration is complete. A brother or sister restored privately according to Matthew 18:15.
In other situations it may be more difficult to remain open to correction. While all sin has consequences, some may be easier to bear than others. If I murder someone for example, I not only effect my life as I spend the rest of it in prison, but I also affect the lives of my family and the victim’s family. My sin affects the church as people are angered, hurt and confused.
I believe a big part of the reason for this is the fact that it involves a conscious choice on the part of the offender to participate in sin. The action is known to be wrong, and yet the choice is made to participate anyway. Consider Adam and Eve, the temptation was presented, and the choice was made. From that point on humanity became aware of several emotions that they had not experienced before. The emotions of sin, embarrassment, inner pain, stress, disappointment, and a host of others. Temptation is always seeded in our mind, and when we nurture it, will always give as its fruit…Sin.
15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
In situations like this there is often a lack of openness. The person chooses not to accept the correction of the church, and in many cases leaves the church. In cases like this discipline, absence is the only recourse. Although the person is not there, the church acts and the individual is brought face to face. The individual must confess the sin & ask to receive forgiveness. Remember this verse from last week?
2 Samuel 12:13
13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
There must be signs of repentance on the part of the fallen believer. All known sin is to be confessed. If we truly understand that we have wronged someone then our hearts should be convicted until we confess our wrong. But understand this, while our confession is in some cases public, our confession is only to God.
We may seek forgiveness, understanding, and reconciliation from the church for the way the sin effected the church, but confession and repentance is made only to God.
The fallen believer must accept accountability and responsibility for their action. The type of sin involving Church Discipline of any form, always involves others. It can range anywhere from one person to the entire church. The offender must make a statement accepting responsibility for his or her action and allow themselves to be held accountable to the church during the process of restoration. The offender also accepts accountability for the consequences that arise as a result of his or her sin.
3: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WITNESSES.
This follows the Old Testament teaching of Deuteronomy 19:15
15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
According to the law, testimony in criminal cases had to be supported as the penalty involved was usually death. The testimony of the witnesses would be taken separately, and if after investigation the accused was found guilty, then the witnesses would take part in the execution. If the witnesses were found to be false, then they would receive the same penalty that they tried to have inflicted on the person they accused. Thus the testimony of witnesses is always in support of the truth, not an individual.
That is why Matthew 7:1-2 holds truth! And commanded.
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
The responsibility of the witnesses is straightforward. Matthew 18:16
16 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.
The responsibility of the witnesses is to "establish the matter", or "to bring back a factual account of the confrontation. They are to serve to verify both the position of the offender as well as that of the person offended. They are to bring testimony as to the spirituality of the confrontation, and the attitude of the characters involved.
4: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CHURCH.
This aspect of Church Discipline, found in Matthew 18:17
17 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.
Okay, now we get to hardest part of this message. Keep in mind, the first step is one on one. The goal is to restore. Second step, bringing witnesses, same goal to restore. Now the church will be involved, same goal, to RESTORE!!!
Matthew 18:17 is without a doubt the hardest for us to act on. We aren’t just dealing with people here, but with friends and relatives. We are dealing with people we care for deeply. For the church to have to resort to this extreme measure of Church Discipline our hearts should be breaking and there should be sleepless nights spent in prayer asking for the leading of the Holy Spirit.
In dealing with the responsibility of the church we need to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is restoration of the fallen member. Anything that is done, including the suspension of church membership, must be done with restoration in mind. This leads us then to the responsibilities of the church.
The church has the responsibility to deal with sin in the camp. We have no option on this.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8…
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
It tells us that a little yeast or sin infects the whole loaf. As church members you do not have the option, should our church ever have to act in this way, of evading the issue.
The church has the responsibility to make sure that the discipline fits the act, and the attitude of the fallen member. Suspension of membership may not always be needed. Removal of a member from certain offices such as where the offence occurred, and leading positions where they could be seen by young people as role models, may be sufficient. In all cases though a statement of accountability and responsibility must be given by the offender.
The church has the responsibility to pray for the individual.
I would say first pray for the offender. Prayer is everywhere urged in Scripture as a powerful weapon to change people’s thinking and attitudes. Pray that God will grant repentance to the offender, And pray for those who have been hurt by the sin. Other innocent ones are always involved and they are being damaged and hurt, we need to support them and love them in prayer. So, if you cannot do anything else, pray for such a one.
The church has the responsibility not to cut itself off from the offender. Remember the goal is restoration. But then you will run into verses like this…
1 Corinthians 5:11
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
So which is it? Do I restore or stay away. These are scriptures we are reading here. These are the words of God here! I would suggest to you that the passage here and in Matthew are addressing two different groups of people. The Corinthian church was surrounded by sin and a total separation was needed to maintain the purity of the church.
But Matthew 18:17 is addressing a different type of individual. Jesus says treat them like a pagan or tax collector. How did Jesus treat the pagans and tax collectors. Well we can start by realizing that Jesus appointed a tax collector as one of the twelve disciples. Consider Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus ate and stayed with tax collectors and pagans. Do not allow them the privileges of a believer in that you want to protect them from taking them as unworthy. We all fall short of Gods glory!
Again, everybody need a chance to repent. Now if the individual is guilty of everything that is written in this verse, (POWERPOINT)and after all the steps had been done, and still not willing to listen to the church. Church Discipline is needed. The brother or sister need to be removed from membership. They are still welcome to attend and hopefully by the word God be restored. They will just loose all the benefits of being a church member. If we kick them out, how will they hear Gods words and be restored?
We can no longer pray for this persons well being. We can only pray that they repent and return to the Lord. Keep in mind, that God disciplines those he loves.
“because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.”
Urge to repent, to give up the sin, and to give in to the pleadings of the body and of the Spirit of God. Especially, if this is true of people who are friends of the individual and have known him or her for a long period of time. The cooperative effort of many to help the one involved see what he or she has done is a very powerful weapon to turn from evil.
The church has the responsibility to restore and forgive if true repentance is shown, and the plan of restoration is being followed. This is sometimes hard to do, but in the church we are called to do some things that may go against everything our natural nature tells us to do. That is one of the things that sets us apart. After restoration takes place the church also has the responsibility to choose carefully the ministry of the individual. The individual needs to be brought back gradually, avoiding positions of great responsibility until well established in the church again. They need time to just be part of the fellowship again, to just enjoy people caring about them.
The issue of Church Discipline is one that we would all like to avoid, but in some cases cannot.
The ultimate goals of Church Discipline is always the restoration of the individual, the protection of the church with reference to holiness and purity, and dealing with a serious situation in an open manner so that there can be closure to the situation.
We have to have faith in the church to be the church. We are not taking matters to the church for gossip’s sake, nor do we take a matter to the church in the hopes of turning the people against one that has fallen. We turn the matter over to the church in an open forum to make sure that we have conducted a thorough investigation, and that we have lived up to our responsibilities to the fallen individual and to God.
We conduct the matter in open forum to make sure that the church realizes that there is no other option but the action taken. We conduct the matter in open forum to give the church the final say, as Matthew 18:17 states we are to "tell it to the church". We take it to the church for the church’s forgiveness of the individual and once that forgiveness is given, then the church has dealt with that matter and it may never be brought up again.
But the best way to avoid the issue of Church Discipline is to lead our lives walking daily with the Lord. Let Him be our guide, even when life is difficult. We are all vulnerable on our own, and only the power and grace of God can sustain us through this life.
Let us Pray.
Pastor Richard Santos
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