Some months ago, I posted on the topic of why churches no longer do church discipline. Confronting brothers and sisters in their sin is never an easy task, but it’s necessary. Here’s why:
- The Bible demands it. It’s hard to deny what the Bible says about this topic. We are to push one another toward holiness (Heb. 10:25). When sin gets in the way, we need to lovingly confront others, believing God will bring them to repentance and restoration (Matt. 18:15-17, 1 Cor. 5:12-13, 2 Cor. 2:5-8, Gal. 6:1).
- It’s unloving not to do it. Brothers or sisters living in sin are inviting the judgment of God. He will chasten them because He loves them. If we choose to leave others in their sin, we too invite God’s judgment on our friend in sin and on us because we’ve ignored God’s command to discipline. That’s unloving toward our friend. It’s also stupid on our part.
- Some people really want to overcome their sin. Sin is destructive. It eats at the soul even when it leads to temporary pleasure. The conviction it brings consumes us during the day and keeps us awake at night. When loving confrontation finally allows a falling brother or sister to bring the sin out of the darkness, the response is often profound relief.
- It’s a first step toward restoration. Brothers and sisters cannot be restored apart from repentance, and repentance doesn’t happen apart from confession and brokenness. Confronting others in their sin is not a call for judgment to fall of them; it’s pleading with them to forsake their ways and return to the God and church that love them.
- It pushes us to consider our own sin. We really cannot confront another person’s sin without investigating our own. If we find that our own sin makes it hard to confront another believer, perhaps two of us need confrontation and confession. The church will be stronger when all of us walk in holiness.
- It strengthens the prayers of God’s people. The prophet Isaiah reminded us about the effects of sin on our prayers: “Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen” (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin in the camp – whether it’s the sin of another believer or our sin in not confronting him or her – always weakens the prayers of God’s people. That consequence matters.
- It reinforces our witness to the world. God has always expected His people to be uniquely holy, set apart and distinct from a world that would reject Him (Lev. 11:44a, Deut. 6:17-18, 1 Peter 2:9-12). It is in our holiness that the world recognizes a difference. In our godliness they see the transforming power of the gospel. When we allow one another to remain in sin, we weaken that witness.
I pray that others would love me enough to confront me if they see me living in sin. What about you?