Individually we are all quite aware of our shortcomings, but many of us want to hide our sin from the very people who can, and who desperately want to help. If you have spent much time reading the New Testament it is hard to ignore Paul’s constant instruction to help each other resist sin and ultimately to “purge the evil from within you” when that sin persists in an unrepentant attitude. In Mark Dever’s book entitled “9 Marks of a Healthy Church”, church discipline makes the list and he has something very helpful to say to each of us in the opening pages of that chapter:
“We should all, without hesitation, admit our need for discipline, our need for shaping. None of us are perfect, finished projects. We may need to be inspired, nurtured, or healed; we may need to be corrected, challenged, even broken. Whatever the particular method of cure, let’s at least admit the need for discipline. Let’s not pretend or presume that you or I are just as we should be, as if God had finished His work with us” (pg 169)
Our resistance to discipline is a complex myriad of emotions and attitudes that create in us a knee jerk reaction when someone confronts us because of evident sin in our lives. We see discipline as a superior correcting a subordinate like we see in a parent-child relationship or a boss and employee relationship. We feign offense when really we are simply embarrassed someone has noticed our imperfections. We feel judged and in anger yell “do not judge me lest ye be judged” even though we do not grasp its meaning. All of this combined together tempts us to storm out of any meeting or end any conversation that is a confrontation of our sin.
What we all need is a complete reshaping of our thinking when it comes to church discipline. Nobody is claiming to be holier than you when they confront sin in your life. Nobody is intending to embarrass you. Nobody is judging you based on their standard of right and wrong, but on the Bible’s standard. When the leaders of your church or your friends in the faith come to you concerned about your sin, they are coming with love fueled with a desire to see you return back to Christ. We are called to do this in love and gentleness and to receive it with humbleness and repentance. Both sides have the opportunity to play their role well but it does not always happen. One of the goals of Gospel Church is to be open and honest with each other, to pray for each other’s stuggles, and to administer church discipline to one another in love and gentleness
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing”