Church Discipline

Matthew 18:15-20

1 Corinthians 5

Church Discipline


These two passages bring us to the necessary issue of church discipline.


Church discipline implies that Christians are to be members of churches where they are held accountable to live in a way that looks like the way of the Lord Jesus. If there is zero relationship of accountability, it would be meaningless to, as Jesus says, “tell it to the church,” because the person in sin would just respond by saying, “that church has no jurisdiction over me.”


The church is a powerful body. “The power of the church is its God-given authority to carry on spiritual warfare, proclaim the Gospel, and exercise church discipline.” (Grudem p. 887)


This definition is vital in understanding some of the church’s power and authority in culture in what the church can unleash and what it can restrain.


1. What are the “keys of the kingdom”?

Matthew 16:19

Matthew 18:17-18


Key – implies authority to open a door and give entrance to a place


Keys of the Kingdom – implies that the church has authority to open the doors of the Kingdom to give access to the Kingdom


The Kingdom’s keys are not metal, but spiritual.


Our spiritual authority is twofold: 1) preach the gospel of Christ Jesus and open the door of the Kingdom of Heaven and allow people to enter

2) Exercise church discipline, by binding up sin, on those who enter the Kingdom of heaven


A. What is bound and what is loosed? (perfect passive / periphrastic future perfect)

1. Binding and loosing has its authority with God and is granted to the church

2. The church can unleash the Kingdom on a culture and transform that culture with

the Kingdom’s Gospel

3. The church can restrain sin and it’s cancerous influence

a. The church can ignore sin and allow it’s cancerous influence to destroy

b. By not taking authority over sin the church gives it’s blessing to sin


B. What is church discipline?

1. It is the active authority of the church to bind up sin for the salvation of the sinner and                                     the spiritual health of the sinner’s family, the local church


2. What is the purpose of church discipline?

A. Restoration and Reconciliation

1. Restoration (of the person in sin to correct behavior)

a. “Handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”

1. Set outside of Holy Spirit protection in the community

2. Reconciliation (between church and person in sin and God)

a. Hebrews 12:6 reminds us that discipline by God is an act of love. Likewise,

the church doing the work of discipline is an act of love. This requires


1. Matthew 7:1-6



B. To keep sin from infecting others

1. 1 Cor 5:2, 6-7; 1 Tim 5:20 (see Gal 2:11 for Paul’s rebuke of Peter)

a. Leaven is likened to sin / bad teaching in Scripture and like leaven

a little bit does a lot of work

b. Matthew 16:5-12 Jesus warns against the “leaven” of the Pharisees

and Sadducees, meaning their teaching.

1. The Pharisees were shutting the door of the Kingdom and Jesus

gave the church the authority to open it

2. Sin that remains unchecked will infect others and become normal behavior (watch

Israel in the OT)


C. To protect the purity of the church and the honor of Jesus Christ

“This is why Paul is shocked that the Christians have not disciplined the man who continued in willful sin that was publicly known in the church (1 Cor 5:1-2). He is also greatly distressed to know that “brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers” (1 Cor 6:6). Rather, than allowing such moral blemishes on the character of the church, Peter encourages believes to “be zealous to be found by Christ without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:14). And out Lord Jesus wants to present to himself a church “without spot or wrinkle…holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27), for he is the head of the church, and its character reflects on his reputation. Even angels and demons look at the church and behold the wisdom of God expressed in it (Eph 3:10); therefore (Eph 4:1) Paul encourages Christians to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3). This is a very serious matter. Since the Lord Jesus is jealous for his own honor, if the church does not exercise proper discipline, he will do it himself, ad he did at Corinth, where the Lord’s discipline resulted in sickness and death (1 Cor 11:27-34), and as he warned he would do both at Pergamum (Rev 2:14-15) and Thyatira (Rev 2:20). In these last two cases the Lord was displeased with the whole church for tolerating outward disobedience and not exercising discipline.” (Grudem p. 896)


3. How does the church go about church discipline?

A. Follow the process of Matthew 18:15-20 / 1 Corinthians 5

1. Personal

2. Meeting with two or three others

3. Telling the entire church

4. Setting the person outside of the fellowship / protection of the church

5. Not having fellowship with the person in sin until they repent

(Matt 18:17 / 1 Cor 5:9-13)

a. We do not contact them to check on them

b. We do not meet with them for a meal / fellowship

c. We do not Facebook or Tweet them

(in many ways it’s the living out of what the person has already done in leaving

the church)

d. We do not avoid them if we see them in Wal-Mart

(we can say hello and recognize them, we don’t run from them, but we don’t run

to them. Ask them to repent, believe the Gospel and come back)

6. We worship Jesus because he is present (Matt 18:20)


We can worship in response to that!

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