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Church Discipline

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 21, 2021 8:00 am

Church Discipline

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 21, 2021 8:00 am

A church struggles to come to terms with what it means to serve the Lord. But it's not easy. All around are greedy and debauched people. Inevitably some of sinfulness has begun to infiltrate the church. Sound familiar? This scenario is not just our own; the early church of Corinth faced many of the same problems! Dr. Boice's study in 1 Corinthians reveals a striking similarity between own battles and the struggles the early church, here on The Bible Study Hour.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free 1-800-488-1888 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically using these evening times together to study Paul's great first letter to the Corinthians that our study of this book is taken us through four chapters bringing us tonight to chapter 5 and therefore do a section of the book that deals with Christian discipline is a hard subject of a hard subject for churches to face. It's hard subject put into practice. Yet one of the effects of systematic teaching through books of the Bible, such as this, is that we do, soft passages and therefore need to deal with them and that is what I intend to do this evening I were faced with two problems in this matter. Christian discipline in our time. One is the disposition to take its likely the other is the disposition and overdo it, which unfortunately is also true in some Christian circles. We need God's wisdom in each case out in Oklahoma and at town called Collinsville. There has been a lawsuit that has developed in the local church of Christ. Member of that denomination in this form. Women in the church by the name of Marion again a 36-year-old divorcee with four children, was becoming involved with another divorcee in town and was examined by the leadership of the church is still this relationship. She confessed in the examination that there had been fornication.

The two of them not being married at the time in the church proceeded to require her to confess the sin to do it publicly.

In this particular case procedure which is I look at it seems to of been unnecessary since she was admitting wrong and it had proceeded further than that, but nevertheless, this was the decision of the church. The result of that was that this again soon. The church for the action that they had taken it went to trial.

The jury heard the case and she asked for $1.3 million in damages and as a result of the jury trial was awarded $390,000 so far as I know, that's the first decision in all of history of American law of this nature. I tell it, not so much because of the significance of the decision.

I hope it's one of those things that will be appealed, but because of a statement Michigan made at the close of the proceedings he felt as she was quizzed by the reporters afterwards that justice had been done and then she said that she said I was guilty, but it was none of their business.

I support the troubles may certainly it's troublesome to live in a society that seems to think that the only recourse in any situation is to go to court, but the most troublesome thing was the statement by Ms. Ken which I presume would be the kind of thing in the minds of perhaps the vast majority of churchgoers in our time, namely that morality, even for Christians is a public thing and that what we do as Christians is not of the business of the church of Jesus Christ were inclined to think that way and I suspect that many of us are. We need to read this chapter because Paul in dealing with a particularly scandalous case of Corinth says quite the opposite. Paul says it is the business of the church and moreover it reflects more on the church that it does on the individual. If the church fails to deal with the immorality select one error. On the other hand, I want to say that in my judgment, there is a mistake often made in the other direction. I think it's well-intentioned, the argument goes, and it's particularly strong in reformed churches that there are three marks of the true church, one is the preaching of the word. The second is the observance of the sacraments and the third is church discipline. I think discipline is important. I'm not sure I would put it up with the other two is a necessary mark of the true church. Nevertheless, discipline is important in this particular view takes that therefore, if discipline is good and important should be exercised a great deal and what often happens in certain settings is that the leadership of the church takes on a great deal of involvement into the particular affairs of the members and sometimes exercises. What I would regard as an un-biblical oversight over the membership I have in mind the case lies relatively close at hand in which the session was examining girl in the church who had been having an affair.

She became pregnant as a result of that, had the child then was utterly repentant.

The sin was trying to live in the fellowship of God's people and establish a home for the child she was in the process of counseling. Those who were involved with her case were being very helpful and wise in my judgment, yet there was a difficulty with the father of the child who was pursuing her in what the counselors felt was an unfortunate way wanted to marry her. She didn't feel he was the one do marry that he really was the kind that would be a father that one wrong was not going to be corrected by another wrong with this particular session and counsel with her advised she was to do certain things in terms of a relationship with the father of the child, but she didn't think was wise in which the counselors agreed was not wise and therefore didn't do, and as a result of that, this session exercise discipline in her case water from the sacraments, and although she wasn't even attending the church at the time wrote to another church that she was attending and asked them to honor their discipline and bar from the sacraments in that church as well. I think that is on the other hand, that's a scandal that that sort of thing should be done yet. You see we don't solve the one problem by falling over immediately into the other extreme, but rather by searching out the principles we have in Scripture, some of which Paul articulates in first Corinthians. This is the most important chapter and it's an important chapter. For this reason, it is the only significant and clear example of a case of spiritual discipline in the New Testament now as I say that I want to acknowledge that there are other passages in the New Testament. The deal was spiritual discipline and that's important. This is not just a freak passage. One of the key tax is the 18th chapter of Matthew Bob verses 15 through 17 in which the Lord Jesus Christ says the procedure to be followed in the company of his people. If a brother commits wrong brother is done something wrong. This is Jesus. The procedure is to go to him and admonished him that if he won't hear you is bemoaning knowledge the offense and I presume that also means turn from it.

Repent of it seek reconciliation then the individual is to take two or three witnesses go and confront him with the offense in order that in the mouth of two or three witnesses. The Old Testament principle a legal principle every word might be established and then says our Lord.

If even with that kind of a confrontation. There is no response then it is to be told to the church and if there's no repentance at that point the offending one is to be treated as an outsider. Words our Lord uses this as the tax collector or some other center so there's untaxed then there are what are probably examples of discipline in one stage or another elsewhere in the New Testament alluded to, but not described in full in for John, for example, the apostle John is writing about a man his name is geography sues misbehaving in a particularly offensive way. John says he's going to deal with this case what he comments. He doesn't do it in the letter. It's not a full example of how it was handled, but it is an illusion to what seems to of been a case of discipline or at least something that would become a case discipline in due time, and then in first Timothy the first chapter 20 and verse, Paul writes obliquely of the case, Hymenaeus and Alexander he says whom he delivered under Satan in order that they might learn not to blaspheme. We don't know anything more about it than that but Paul does use the same language.

In that book delivered under Satan that he uses here in first Corinthians 5. So there's a clear parallel and it might be that someone would also want to bring forward what seems to be a case of direct line discipline in the case of Ananias and Sapphire. This was not so much a case that went through careful procedures within the church.

Though Peter certainly confronted Ananias and Sapphire for their hypocrisy but nevertheless it's one in which God intervened immediately and in the case of these two resulted in their death. As I say there are other passages in the New Testament to deal with discipline, making us well aware that this is not an isolated passage, something that we would say is well work Paul something that doesn't have to be taken seriously and yet all that being said is still significant that this is the only clear case of procedure involving discipline and the New Testament churches you say to yourself worker problems in the New Testament churches. Of course there were this is not the only problem even in the church of Corinth and as we read the other books we find that the other churches had a variety of problems as well.

And yet we don't find examples of Paul proceeding in a while/indiscipline in those cases at least tells us that this is something to be exercise with great care and certainly it was here in Paul's case as we can tell now Paul describes the offense and it's important to look at this carefully. First of all, we notice that it was a major significant transgression, but it actually involved was a sexual sin, in which, as Paul says the man has his father's wife doesn't use mother there. He says his father's wife and that's generally interpreted.

I think rightly mean that the man was living with his stepmother is an even say whether his father was living or divorce or what the particular circumstances were, but is nevertheless an offense against the law of God and as Paul says in the passage, even against the proper understanding of morality among the pagans turn of the law of God.

It's a violation of the 10 Commandments commandment against adultery, which is rightly understood to include a variety of sexual offenses and it's explicitly a transgression of the laws concerning the control of marriage between related persons that you find in the 18th chapter of the book of Leviticus. So on the Jewish and Christian side based upon the Old Testament Scriptures that wasn't offense and in the mind of the pagans of the day. It was also an offense. Paul says as he analyzes this that it is such a thing that the pagans wouldn't even tolerate. Let's first thing we notice about certainly talks about is the fact that it was public even something that had happened in a quiet way, which perhaps you might say could be dealt with in a quiet way, is a good principle there that if Ron can be made right quietly without broadcasting it abroad in a great big way. That is certainly the procedure to be followed. But in this case that was not possible. This was something that apparently the judge from Paul's language was well known in Corinth. Everybody said all Christians you know they're supposed to be followers of Jesus Christ and to have this high standard of morality. They're all going around talking about talking about righteousness and all that well you know what's going on down there they're doing the sort of things that we wouldn't even tolerate here in Corinth and everybody knows how bad Corinth is.

Not only was it noting Corinth. Apparently it had spread to some extent throughout the Roman world because Paul perhaps writing this letter for Memphis is heard about it over there and they were saying what was going on in the church. Corinth selects a second factor was a major offense clear violation of the moral law of God, and it was public in nature. Moreover, as Paul begins to analyze this. It was an offense that was having an evil effect upon the church. Paul seems indeed to be more concerned with back then, with the offender. After all, he is writing here to the church needs dealing with problems in the church is just dealt with a number of them in the early chapters of this book. Here's another.

He says that the problem here is that this public obvious scandal exists, and not only are you not offended by it and refused to mourn for this obvious imperfection sin in your midst. Why Paul says even proud about you post presents verse two you say when you read that how in the world could they post.

It's hard to conceive his here is a sin in the church. And Paul says they are proud of how in the world could they be proud of the sin. Paul doesn't explain.

I suppose that would be. They were proud of what we would call their tolerance or their broad mindedness where moral matters are concerned. When we begin to look at it that way.

We begin to have an uneasy sense of her describing a lot of what goes on in the Christian church today.

Although it may not be this particular offense, but certainly there are clear public significant violations of the moral law of God, and in many churches. There is a tendency to say well you mustn't be judgmental after all. You mustn't hang out the dirty laundry for everybody to see.

After all, you must be loving and so no action is taken and the holiness of the church is called in question and the gospel of Jesus Christ is slander. I suspect what Paul has in mind also is that as he seems to suggest by the image of 11. This is the kind of thing that spreads leaven is a symbol of evil in the Bible. Yeast what you put into don't believe in overnight doesn't take very long before it spreads through the whole doll in all things affected everyone who read that would understand it would be a common image of the day and Paul is saying.

I believe that is what's happening or if it hasn't happened yet.

It's likely to hear you are tolerating this offense. Well, it's the same spirit that's going to allow you to tolerate something else and something else and something else.

Pretty soon, is not going to be anything unique about the church in Corinth at all. It's just going to be a Christian country club of the city of Corinth.

That's all going to have the same values as they morality the same standards same priorities and pauses that would be a terrible thing indeed. So he begins to deal with it was important that we understand what he says.

Not because it's so difficult. But in order that we might really understand what he sets says it in two places in the second when I suppose is meant to explain the first lesson we miss what he saying the first time around is how he gets into it, even though I am not physically present. He says in verse three I am with you in spirit and I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present when you're assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit and the power of our Lord is present. Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved in the day of the Lord strong words and that man over to Satan. He says so literally is flash may be destroyed but his spirit saved on the day of the Lord and then Leslie misunderstand what he saying at the very end of the chapter he brings his judgment in again and makes quite clear what he's talking about the end he says expel the wicked man from among you only has a purpose in this place talking about is some form of excommunication is generally what it's called in Christian theology may have operated in a slightly different way than we do today because again he's not spelling out all the details of how this happens but you say you saying very clearly the Christians he spells it out must not associate with one who calls himself or herself a believer in Jesus Christ, a follower of the Lord and who nevertheless in an open waitlist. Contrary to Christ's commandments because such thing as a scandal and a denial of the gospel now explains why he says this is for two reasons.

The first reason is for the good of the individual involved. We find it hard to understand that because our ideas of discipline in our day is so lax that we think well, certainly the worst possible thing you could do to somebody is embarrass them or put them on the spot or make a judgment or perhaps a doing something wrong.

That's the last thing you want to do, you mustn't do that but Paul says no that isn't true where there is open and flagrant sin. The flagrant sin must be confronted and must be done so in the name of the good of the individual involved so he says I want you to hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord some difference of interpretation among commentators. What that means. I think the new international version was chosen the right one word. As I mentioned a moment ago is flash translated here. The sinful nature some of said that when Paul said, handing over this Satan, so the flesh may be destroyed that this means that the very least some horrible disease that might come upon them, or perhaps physical death under some justification for that because of the case of Ananias and Sapphire. We know the judgment was death, and there are other examples that might be Satan excited to say Bonnie here. He says flash and flash often refers to the sinful nature, and I think that is what Paul has in mind is not talking about inflicting some kind of physical judgment on the man but rather the kind of handing over to the out workings of sin in his own life that he might by the grace of God, discover what sin does. And by that same grace of God turn from it and you say that's a hard thing to want to see the life of someone else see someone so turned over to sin and its consequences. The disobedience of its consequences to rebellion and its consequences that they might actually find, lived out in their flash results of their transgressions by the grace of God that has been used in the lives of many people to turn them back from sin to Jesus Christ. Once again, that's what Paul is saying. He says that must be done for the good of the person. If you overlook the Senate. You say it's all right to be a Christian and do those things to well then one lives. The kind of life which is such a denial of the gospel that when they perish at the end and sin. There is great question whether they were really born again in the first place and perhaps right to say they never were and yet here's Paul saying don't cover up 10 that it's all right to profess the name of Christ and live sinfully.

It is not, and the good of the person.

The man's that's the first reason the second thing he has in mind is the good of the church. And, of course, as I said a moment ago in the context of the book. It's the studies primarily concerned about. He's concerned about the individual to going to see that he refers to it again. But here is concerned about the church and he doesn't want this church in Corinth to go the way of all flesh are in great danger of doing already have the mentality of the world so far as wisdom is concerned, I think the way to get ahead is to be smart and philosophical sense, and not to seek out the wisdom of the gospel, found in Christ is bad enough in here. Apparently they're in danger of the doing the same thing morally. And Paul says you have to deal with that as well. You have to be applied on God separated on the Christ when he refers to the Lebanon Christ, the Passover lab when he brings in all the Jewish imagery in which is that a Jew who read that would understand that on the Passover symbolizes it was put out of the house. We are saying if you're going to serve Christ. You must make every effort to get rid of the sin, the contaminated course you do this you begin to grow as he says in grace. Now he makes two qualifications here and I want to bring the men one qualification is what he saying here about dissociating from a believer who is living in open sin does not apply to the world and the people of the world in general because he says and you do that work and you have that you have a glottal world.

If you're going to live that way makes very clear verse nine and following that he's not talking about that kind of separatism. The question of never rubbing shoulders with anyone is a sinner time. My goodness he says possible.

That's what you have in mind to see what is concerned about is the purity of the gospel and the reputation of the church. That's the issue.

Zoe says the problem is a believer who lives that way or alleged believer who lives that way. And that was not be tolerated by Mesa qualification and then secondly Mesa qualification which works the other way in which he says even though I'm saying that this should not be applied to the people who were in the world I am saying that it is to be applied to professing Christians not only in this area, but in other areas as well. So we less a number of things, mustn't be tolerated. Anyone who is sexually immoral or greedy and idolater or a slanderer or a drunkard or a swindler all you see open sin's that are contrary to the gospel and he is saying is company not be saying this discipline must be practiced in those cases as well.

I want in on this note.

I sent a moment ago. This is not the only place Paul speaks of this problem he speaks about it again in second Corinthians in the second chapter verse five and following the significant thing of his introducing the subject again.

At this point is that here. Time has passed. The purpose for which Paul had the church deliver this offender to Satan expel what the brother uses own language has been accomplished man is realized loss. He's been paying by separation from the body of Christ. He has sorrowed and repented of his sin announces Paul in these verses written sometime later.

I want you to forgive him and bring him back and restoring your fellowship. Once again, as we read that second passage we recognize the joy and compassion of the apostle Paul in this situation for the man is much as we recognize his anguish in the first situation for the church that is failed to maintain his purity. This of course is the goal of church discipline. Most books of discipline in all churches have them know they don't always use them.

Spell out the goal of discipline as being remedial chief object and discipline.

It says is the restoration of the offender. And that's the direction in which all such discipline should lead and say well doesn't work much know I think it does work generally when it is properly practiced. Sometimes when ministers are together as I often am connection with various conferences. We talk about problems of this nature because of course that something ministers regardless of the church in which they serve face. I have another number of fellow ministers in California and believe me they face it in California all kinds of problems to hear Chuck Swindoll talk. He said cases of people, men who feel their wives are unfaithful getting guns going off to kill the other man and they had to deal with that. That's a problem. I want tell the story. However, one of my friends on the West Coast tells of the story in which a man would been a leader in the church fell in immorality, and when he was confronted with it, refuse to repent. He said much as story with which I began. Well, it's none of your business what I do is my business. Any rate it between me and the Lord knew of anything to do with it. Then pretty soon he went off he went from one sin to another and that course of Batman as the course of all who go against the law of God was downhill, he just went from one horrible situation to the other. He made a mess of his life. He became an alcoholic.

He got on drugs.

Naturally, the family was destroyed. He couldn't stay even with a woman whom he left his wife and he just made it on a rack of his life in years went by nature 15 years or so and they remember that, of course, because it had been such a painful experience in the time came.

Years later, when this man appeared on the scene again and this time he was a changed man and he came back to my friend and told what happened.

He explained how SC had some further and further into sin and therefore farther and farther from the Lord.

He had come to the other end of himself and God used his own degeneracy to show what did once to go away from Christ and by the grace of God. He turned from that. He repented Sandy was on his way back in the return to the church for restoration.

They work with and they were quick to do that they wanted to be sure that the change was there. They gave them counseling they work to help and get a new job and get established on his feet again. They did all that and he was most cooperative. The time came when he was to be received back in the membership of the church again and they said to him while there's one more thing you have to do. The session is meeting at 6 o'clock this particular week. Tuesday night Wednesday night something like that.

They said you have to appear before the session once more. He said I really have to do it once more I thought I've done everything I have to do know they said you have to go once more. I said all right I'll be there at 6 o'clock came that evening in he arrived.

Session meeting was taking place at the home of the pastor and he didn't know what to expect and what he came and knocked on the door. They greeted them and they took him out back into the backyard and what he discovered is that they were having a party. It was a barbecue and you get the idea.

When I tell you what they did. They had a coat for him and they put on the coat.

They had a gold ring for his finger and they put that on the barbecue. You guessed it was a fatted calf all there is joy in heaven over the center who returns that should be our desire and at the same time, it should be our desire not to overlook sin on this bright our father we read a passage like this and we search our hearts and we know that we must say which of us is without sin. Not one if it's the case in our lives that we have been kept from flagrant sin, presumptuous sin use King David's praise is by your grace because of any strength that is in us, so we read about the procedures to be followed in the case of those involved in flagrant sin and we pray Lord, keep us from that save us from presumptuous sin draw close stops in order that we might draw close to you because except for the grace of God there we go like others and at the same time. We pray for wisdom the case of those whose lives are so contaminated we would pray for them and we would ask for the wisdom to deal properly firmly where necessary, but in love and for the sake of restoration as you make that possible.

In order to center might be recalled from his sin in the church of Jesus Christ made strong and glory and honor given to yourself as the Savior of sinners.

We pray in Jesus name. You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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