Discipline in the Church Part 1

Church Discipline

Sunday 08/14/22

Message – Discipline in the Church Part 1

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Discipline in the Church Part 1

[Pt. 1 – What Jesus & Paul say about judging and confronting known sin.]


We are still in Acts 20 where Paul is addressing the pastors of the church of Ephesus.

So far our takeaways have been…

  1. In any given local assembly of the body there are multiple pastors of equal authority
  2. They are called and commissioned by God to lead, feed, warn and protect the flock
  3. In order to DO their work they most know the flock and the flock must know and trust them
  4. They have to address and deal with false doctrine and sin
  5. They have to judge, arbitrate and advocate in regard to the sheep

We spent most of our time last week on these last two points which we began to illustrate with Jesus’ teaching on humility, sin and forgiveness.

We touched again on the topic of binding and loosening in the context in which it is mentioned which is regarding judgment in the church.

In this case it was to – in unity – declare it unlawful to fellowship with a brother who is unrepentantly continuing in known sin after having gone to them privately, then with a few others and then before the church.

Then we began to see how Paul took this exact same principle and applied it to the Corinthian believers in regard to a brother who was living in sin.

Paul told them that even though he was not physically present he had judged the matter and was astounded that they had not already removed that sinning brother from their assembly until which time he may repent.

Then I presented you with an apparent conundrum.

So we are going to begin this week by re-reading these two segments of scripture and then, begin the work of going through them.

1Cor. 5:1-13,

“(1) It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife.

(2) And you are proud!

Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you? “

Paul speaks as if he believes they should have known this!

“(3) For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present.”

As I commented last week, carnal Christians and the world alike have brow beaten the church with partial and misquotes of verses about not judging.

Paul here clearly and unambiguously says “I am not even physically there and I HAVE judged this man!”

But I thought we were told, “Judge not lest you be judged”

Is that really what Jesus was teaching in Matt. 7:1-6?

Well, let’s look at it…

“(1) Do not judge so that you will not be judged. (2) For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.

(3) Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?

(4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?

(5) You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

You are going to hear me say it over and over, but context is King.

Another catchy phrase which I should have referenced last week when re-addressing the teaching on binding and loosening OR the passage of “two or more who agree”, both of which are VERY often taken WILDLY out of context to make them say something they do not say.

The phrase is – “A text without a context is a pretext for a prooftext.”

For our purposes, a prooftext is a quotation from scripture, used to establish the truthfulness of a teaching.

So a “text without a context is a PRETEXT for a prooftext.”

A pretext is a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason.

This also happens all the time with this statement from Jesus! If read in context it is abundantly clear that Jesus is not teaching against judging.

Jesus judged, John the Baptist judged, Paul judged, Moses judged…etc. and the list goes on and on.

Furthermore, He goes on to give them a criteria for judging…

  • don’t be hypocritical in your judgment
  • judge the way you want to be judged (with mercy)
  • only do it AFTER you’ve gotten the beam out of your own eye!

He then gave them the much remembered “golden rule”.

Clearly, the injunction here is not about NOT judging but about being careful HOW you judge, because the way you deal it out is how it will come back to you.

Remember James told us that if we are merciless then our judgment will come without mercy, but if we are merciful we will be shown mercy in our times of judgment.

The very next thing Jesus teaches them is how to judge a person. He uses the imagery of trees and says a tree or person can be known by the fruit they bear or the actions they take.

So Paul here is judging a person, based upon their actions in keeping with how he would expect to be judged and that is in accordance with scripture.

So he says…

“(4) When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, (5) hand this man over to satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Wow…what just happened?

Well, Paul is treating the teachings of Jesus as if they were true and furthermore, that they mattered to New Covenant believers (something the grace movement would cry foul too mistakenly claiming that it is “blending covenants”.) I ALSO found it interesting that Matthew’s account of Jesus‘ words had Him using the word church. An otherwise entirely new Covenant word.

Paul here is saying if we all gather together and bind this one from the fellowship of the saints and turn him over to satan to work destruction [ólethros] in his flesh (which properly translated means unavoidable distress and even torment) then Jesus and HIS POWER is present to make it happen!

But what is the goal? RESTORATION!

Paul says, “…so that his spirit may be saved on the day of judgment”.

Of course we learn more about this in his next letter to them. He tells them in 2Cor. 2:4-11,

“(4) For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love that I have especially for you. (5) But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.

(6) This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, (7) so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.

(8) Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. (9) For this reason also I wrote you: to test you to see if you are obedient in everything.

(10) If you forgive anyone for anything, I also forgive him – for indeed what I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, (11) so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes).”

And to take the whole counsel of scripture into account, consider what Paul told the Thessalonians, in 2Thess. 3:14-15,

“(14) But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed. (15) Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

The whole point is that by excluding them from the fellowship of the saints, we might cause them to feel the separation which sin creates and thereby be convicted by the weight of their shame and in so doing, encourage a heart of repentance in them that they might be restored!

Can you see how continuing to fellowship with such a one actually encourages them in their sin? And what will be the end of such a person if they go on sinning without repentance and without remorse, but what Paul warns them of in 2 Cor. 6 – he says they have NO inheritance in the kingdom of God.

These things are non-trivial and MUST be given their proper weight in the church – which requires that saints actually attend a church that IS IN FACT a REAL church with REAL spiritual leaders!

Let’s continue…

“(6) Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough?”

Again I ask you to consider how serious a thing this is and is it even possible in a church where the sheep outnumber the shepherds a thousand or even one hundred to one?

I have never had the opportunity to ask, as I mentioned last week – part of me would love to ask a long time member of a very large church when the last time they remember a service where a member was revealed to be living in known sin and publicly encouraged to repent before the whole assembly.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I bet the number of large churches who have done this biblically are rare to the point of virtually non-existent for two reasons.

  1. It is too large to know the sheep and to patrol so many lives.
  2. Churches do not typically grow that large if they feel like it is a place where their sin could ever be publicly exposed.

What did Jesus tell Nicodemus?

“(19) Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. (21) But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.”~ John 3:19-21

A little leaven affects the whole lump!

So if you allow this to happen or if you pastor a church in which this is inevitable – are you not at least in part responsible?

If the church is being told they are responsible for cleaning out the yeast, then how much more responsible are the pastors who are commissioned with watching out for our souls and who must give an account?

“(7) Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.”

So now we will turn our attention to what Paul was actually encouraging these Ephesian elders to do and then comparing that to the modern church so we can learn how far we have fallen and then do what is right.

It is my desire that this study will arm you with love and concern over Christ’s body who by and large do not know these things and are being lulled to sleep in churches which allow the yeast to grow uncontrolled and unchecked!

“(8) So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”

“(9) I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. (10) In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.

(11) But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler.”

“Who is” – being with an adverb as a predicate carries the meaning of quality or character.

This isn’t just a weakness to this person, but it is how they are defined.

“…Do not even eat with such a person! (12) For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside? (13) But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.”

I’m telling you, I understand the undesirable nature of this.
I HATE confrontation and I do not like dealing with sin in the lives of others.

I can tell you however, that I am 100% certain that the ONLY cure for the desire to shrink back from and make excuses for this command is deep, abiding respect for God and the true Shepherd of the sheep – Jesus our Lord.

Proverbs 29:25 is a great verse for this… “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

I for one want to be safe and in the end, I do want to honor God and fear Him above man.

1Cor. 6:1-9,

“(1) When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints? (2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?

And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits?

(3) Do you not know that we will judge angels? Why not ordinary matters!

(4) So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? (5) I say this to your shame!

Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians?

(6) Instead, does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers?

(7) The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated.”

Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

Here’s a thought that by and large would never occur to the modern church.

Why not just accept the wrong?

Why not just let it go and not pursue justice on your own behalf?

“(8) But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters!

(9) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, (10) thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

These passages clearly indicate that the CHURCH is a place where issues regarding the members of the body MUST BE JUDGED and that to take such issues before the world is an utter failure. It would be FAR BETTER for to just suffer the loss than pursue the matter before the world!

We will continue on this line of teaching next week.



Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!