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Church Discipline

Several passages throughout the Bible that speak to the idea of church discipline:

Romans 16:17

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

2 Corinthians 2:5-8

2 Thessalonians 3:3-7

Titus 3:10

Hebrews 12:11; 13:17 

James 5:19-20

The clearest, at least in terms of process, is Matt. 18:15-20.

A four-stage process.

Must be approach slowly and with care.

The Process:

Stage 1: (v.15)

Stage 2: (v.16)

Stage 3: (v. 17a)

Stage 4: (v. 17b)

Vss. 18-19 an earthly depiction of a heavenly reality. *notice the perfect tenses*

V. 20 This is a legal reality in the heavenly courtroom.

6 Reason why a church should practice church Discipline:

1. Christ’s passion for holiness and repentance within the Church -- It was the first command (ordinance) He gave to his church.

2. It sets an example for others in the Church.

Example of Ananias and Sapphira at the beginning of the Church (Acts 5).

Also, how the Lord will cause a person to become sick (or even kill them) if they are taking the

Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1Cor. 11:30).

3. Promotes holiness.

Protects unity, rather than destroys it.

Many view CD as divisive, but the opposite is the reality.

4. Christ died to purify His Church.

Leaving sin unchecked can cause others to stumble and be led astray, or at the very least, stifle their growth.

5. Protects doctrinal purity.

A person can be disciplined for holding (or worse, teaching) false doctrine.

What is false doctrine?: Anything upon which the Gospel stands or falls.

So a person can’t be disciplined for having a different view of salvation (e.g., Cal. vs. Arm.) or eschatology (e.g., Pre. vs. A. vs. Post.).

A person can be disciplined for rejecting Justification by faith Alone, or teaching works righteousness.

6. Protects the office of an elder.

The nature of the office invites more accusation, which is why it is protected in a great degree (1Tim. 5:19).

Having said that, the process for disciplining an elder is more aggressive than a regular member (1Tim. 17-21).


Christ loves and died for His Church. 

He is passionate about both her purity and unity.

He has put this process in place to secure this.

This should be done with great care and slowness --- the goal is repentance and full restoration.


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