Some years 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. We are to push one another toward holiness (Heb. 10:24-25). 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 discipline of God. If we choose to leave others in their sin, we invite God’s judgment on our friend and on us because we’ve ignored our responsibility. That’s unloving toward our friend (and, not so smart on our part).
- Some people really want to overcome their sin. Sin destructively 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 encourages a brother or sister to bring sin out of the darkness, however, 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 on 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. It’s tough to 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.
- It strengthens the prayers of God’s people. The prophet Isaiah (Isa 59:1-2) reminded us about the effects of sin on our prayers. 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 holy, set apart and distinct from a world that would reject Him (Lev 11:44a, Deut 6:17-18, 1 Pet 2:9-12). In our godliness, the world sees the transforming power of the gospel. When we allow one another to remain in sin, we weaken that witness.
- It pushes us to learn how to confront in love. I end with this reason because I’ve seen too many people confront without love. The falling believer then not only doesn’t repent, but he or she often develops bitterness toward the confronter—and the situation is worse.
What reasons would you add to this list? If you’re interested in why confession matters, maybe this post will help you, too.