Church discipline is in the context of the parable of the lost sheep. We must protect each other from sin:
- We must be willing to confront (15-17)- the goal is to win your brother over– those who confront and win their brothers over are true “soul winners.” The ironic thing is if you do not confront a straying brother or sister, then you have disobeyed the Lord’s command and have strayed yourself.
- We must have the kingdom in mind (18)- Jesus applies this binding and loosing principle to church discipline. Whatever you (as a flock) bind on earth (win back a soul who was sinning) it will be bound in heaven (you are carrying out God’s will on earth as it is in heaven); whatever you loose on earth (treat unrepentant sinners like pagans or tax collectors) will be loosed in heaven.
- We must ask the Father to do the work (19-20)- the amazing thing about verse 19 is that Jesus assumes two things: he assumes his followers know the Father is the one who accomplishes kingdom work (if two of you agree on anything they ask, it will be done by my Father), and he assumes his followers know they must advance the kingdom through prayer (if two of you agree on anything they ask, it will be done by my Father)!
When you carry out church discipline, my reformed brethren, please do it with the kingdom in mind and with a spirit of prayer.