THE APOSTLE Paul wrote to the pastor overseeing the Corinthian church to cleanse out the bad nuts in their midst. I think that was necessary to promote purity, integrity, righteousness and holiness of the church.
The person caught in a sin must be helped back onto the right path. But who and how should this be done? The Bible says it should be done by spiritual believers in a spirit of gentleness. Who are spiritual believers? They are mature Christians who have grown in the things of the Spirit and have developed their spiritual senses.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL SHOULD RESTORE HIM IN A SPIRIT of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6: 1- 2).
Spiritual Christians may also be described as those who are spiritually “strong and stand by the power and grace of the Spirit of God”. They can be pastors, deacons, departmental leaders or believers who live and walk in the Spirit. Spiritual Christians with the mind of Christ have roles to play in the church to ensure its unity, growth and purity.
“THE SPIRITUAL PERSON JUDGES ALL THINGS, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2: 15 – 16).
Paul clearly said the restoration should be done in a spirit of gentleness. That is, the spiritual Christians must carry out the restoration in a humble and meek spirit, considering that they themselves are under the grace of God.
We should therefore avoid being arrogant, proud or haughty. We must be sympathetic and be clothed with love while helping back the brother onto the right path. Love is a key factor in restoring backslidden Christians. The fallen brother or sister can be prayed for or properly counselled.
Forgiveness is another important attitude that must be considered. The sinner ought to first forgive themselves and understand that God is merciful. He forgives if we plead His mercy for forgiveness.
However, there are extreme cases in which the sinful Christian may be rebuked sharply or severely punished to serve as deterrent to others. Two meekest and humble messengers of God, The Lord Jesus Christ and Moses, are known for how sharply they rebuked sin during their days. I guess you are familiar with those accounts.
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, AND HE overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, my house shall be called the house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21: 12 – 13)
This is how humble and meek Jesus Christ handled sin in the church during His public ministry. Read below how Moses also dealt with his church members when they committed idolatry.
“…And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned out, and threw the tablet out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and burnt it with fire and ground it to powder and SCATTERED IT ON THE WATER AND MADE THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL DRINK IT” (Exodus 32: 19 – 20).
These two leaders believed in church discipline which is necessary to train people in righteousness. However, these days some men of God refuse to talk about righteousness, sin and church discipline.
Is it unscriptural to discipline, criticise or judge stubborn Christians for their blatant disregard for the Word of God? The biblical truth is that sinners who are yet to become Christians should not be judged, criticized or condemned for their sins. Our Saviour came to save sinners and not the righteous. And He would not judge or condemn them and so must we.
But Christians who persist in sin must be rebuked, corrected and reproved. The Church has no business judging or condemning unbelievers for their sins. But it has business judging its members who practice sin to promote purity until the Lord appears.
“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it is certainly YOUR JOB TO JUDGE THOSE INSIDE THE CHURCH who are sinning in these ways. God will judge those on the outside; but as the scriptures say, ‘You must remove the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5: 12- 13
FROM James Quansah, Kumasi, NLT).