How Should We Handle Unfaithful Members?

As we commit to a local church, what happens when we fail to represent Jesus? The Bible is clear on expectations of how we are to confront one another to avoid drifting spiritually.

Current Trend

  • Every believer has an unspoken list of sins that is acceptable and a pronounced list that is unacceptable.
  • Christians tend to protest the sins outside the church and overlook the sins inside the church.
  • Satan loves to deceive us into believing that our sins don’t affect anyone but ourselves.

Biblical Example [1 Cor. 5:1-13]

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

  • Any supposed believer who claims the freedom to engage in unrighteousness is actually in sinful bondage (5:1-2).
  • Church discipline is necessary for the restoration of the sinner and the protection for the church (5:3-5).
  • Unchecked sin always swells and spreads into further ungodliness (5:6-8).
  • We reverse the biblical command when we expect sinners to behave like saints while enabling saints to behave like sinners (5:9-13).

Personal Application

  • Church discipline is handled best within the context of existing relationships (cf. Matt. 18:15-20).
  • The goal of removing the log from your own eye is so that you can clearly see how to remove the speck from another’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).
  • We need each other to serve as moral guardrails for our lives.