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The Difficulty of Calling Down Fellow 'Christians'

posted Jun 20, 2010, 12:53 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jan 9, 2014, 5:27 PM ]

June 20, 2010                         

Key Passage: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

“The Difficulty of Calling Down Fellow ‘Christians’” 

I have a confession to make: I love this church, and I’m truly appreciative of the privilege of serving and teaching…but ministry is messy, and it can be very troubling.  Of all the things I love about “doing church,” the thing I dread the most is having to get involved in church “discipline” – the calling down of a fellow church member.  That said, we have a duty to care enough about each other that we’re willing to get involved.  The emphasis in today’s church on extreme tolerance (and our society’s fixation with it in general) is a deadly thing.  This kind of tolerance has two major problems: first, it leads us to water down the truth of God’s Word which ultimately leads people away from Jesus and a joyful life that only comes through him.  Second, it doesn’t lead to greater love or respect but rather to greater indifference.  It brings us to the point where we simply ignore what’s going on in the lives of others.  That’s not love…

that’s apathy.  Paul shows us in today’s passage how to address the sin of others while still loving them… 

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 “The Blueprint for Church Discipline”…it’s necessary because: 

  • Blatant sin compromises the body of Christ – consider the soldier who’s gone AWOL…why not let him go home if that’s what he wants to do?  Because the military HAS to be able to count on its soldiers.  If we simply let soldiers abandon the fight because they don’t feel like following orders, it’d be impossible to defend our country…there’d be anarchy in the military.  In many churches today, there’s hidden anarchy for this same reason.  (See 1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
  • Jesus died to set us free from sin – if the world sees that following Christ has made no real impact on the way that we’re living, they conclude that the gospel is powerless.  God’s glory is diminished when Christians don’t live like Followers of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 5:5)

So…if we can agree, based on Scripture, that discipline is necessary, how do we go about it?  Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 18:15-17… 

  1. Go to the person privately, by yourself.  Rick Burgess famously states that the only true “friends” he’s ever had were the ones who cared about him enough to tell him he’s wrong.  Again, that’s love!  Key here is to base your requests on biblical truths, and not personal “feelings.”
  1. If the person is unresponsive to your concerns as a friend, Jesus says to bring a couple of additional friends and address the issue again.  This elevates the seriousness of the matter and eliminates the “he said, she said” dilemma. 
  1. If private confrontations don’t work, bring the situation public and dismiss this person from the “spiritual protection” of the group as an unbeliever.  We’re not judging people’s eternity here, but when someone has been confronted repeatedly about their egregious sin and they refuse to have a repentant heart, they are essentially rejecting the gospel and grace of Christ. It’s important to note here that we are to love them deeply and if they repent, welcome them back into the fold with open arms and hearts.  Just as the angels celebrate when a soul that was lost is found, so should we be excited when someone repents of their sin and rejoins the fellowship!  (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-8)

Q:  Based on 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, when should we address the sins of others?

Q:  If the decision is made to address someone’s biblical sin, how should we go about it? 

Bottom Line: Admittedly, this is one of the hardest things to do as Followers of Christ.  Who am I to say what someone else is doing is wrong?  Why should I get involved?  What about my own sin and heart?  These are all questions we should seriously consider; however, it’s critical to the health of our church and the restoration of souls that we act…with gentleness, love, and a direct appeal to repent.  Today’s passage isn’t about rounding up all the people engaged in some kind of sexual sin and kicking them out of the church.  It’s about loving what God loves and loving others enough to tell them!