What do you tell your brother or sister who is living in sin? Do you let it go or do what God asks us to do?

What do you tell your brother or sister that is living in sin? Do you let it go, or do what God asks us to do?

Matthew 18:15

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

When a Christian Sins

We cannot judge someone whom we consider a brother or sister in Christ until we’ve first dealt with sin in our own lives (Matthew 7:3). But when grievous sin affects someone in the church and is serious enough to affect the fellowship of the church, it must not be ignored. Like leaven spreads in bread, so sin can easily spread throughout the entire body unless it is dealt with (Galatians 5:9). Jesus tells us the first thing we must do after we have examined our own life to be sure we’re not living in sin either. He tells us that we should go to that person first of all privately (Matthew 18:15). This doesn’t mean that we call others in on this and say, “We need to pray for this brother or sister because they’re sinning.” That will not help them at all.

Go Together

The next step Jesus tells us is if we can’t get anywhere with them individually, we are to take a brother or sister with us so that the sin is truly worth confronting a fellow believer over (Matthew 18:16). It could be that the sin is not really one at all, and it may be something where the Bible is silent. But if it’s not, then taking another person (not more than two) with you might lead to that person repenting. Then the issue can be dropped at that point.

The Last Resort

If the next step in pointing out grievous (and not a grey area) sin doesn’t work, the very unpleasant act must be brought before the entire church (Matthew 18:17). Hopefully, it won’t come to that; but our church had an issue recently where we had to take drastic measures and disfellowship someone because of ongoing gossip that was unrepented. This person also kept disrupting services, Sunday school, and church board meetings. We needed to do this because we know that God is a God of order and doesn’t allow for chaos to reign in His church (1 Corinthians 14:33). This was first bathed in prayer; and after repeatedly speaking with the individual, nothing worked. The person only hardened their heart. To have to put someone out of the church is a very hard thing to do, but it was done so that their spirit might be saved on the Day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5).

A Closing Prayer

Righteous God, please give us the courage to confront unrepentant sin when we see it affecting the church and threatening to spread throughout the entire body of Christ. I know this is hard, but You say that You discipline every one of us when we need it or we wouldn’t be Your child (Hebrews 12:6). Give us the courage to do the right thing and what is best for them and the church, and it is in Jesus’ strong name I pray.


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