Drinking Deeply

Friday, November 04, 2005 at 2:57 PM

Judge lest ye be judged (6)

To follow up that post, it probably is necessary to address the possible question: "How is this loving to my neighbor?"

A few observations:

1) Even if it wasn't loving to our neighbor, it's still commanded by God. It may be entirely possible that excommunication is not loving by even God's definition, but this command to cast someone out of the church overrides it.

2) The question sinfully presupposes a definition of "love" that is made against the Bible. If God is our ultimate judge of love and justice, then if God commands us to hate what is evil (Romans 12), then that is a perfectly just and loving thing to do.

These things pointed out, there are ways by which we can address the issue at hand and show that church discipline is loving our neighbor.

It is necessary to observe that another reason that church discipline exists is to bring a brother to repentance and restoration.

Recall the beginnings of church discipline in Matt. 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.
Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor. 5)

3For 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. 4When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you 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.

Thus another reason we are to pursue church discipline is as an act of ultimate love, saying that "we love your soul more than your fellowship, this is for your good and God's glory."

Now I will be very clear in saying that it is very rare that we should make this distinction (spirit vs. body) because the Gospel now only renews our soul, but it manifests itself in renewing other bodies as well.

(James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.)

Along the same lines, the second greatest commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" is directly in the context of correction in it's original quotation from Lev. 19)

17"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

The quotation is from the ESV, and the NIV translates it "rebuke" instead of "reason frankly," but whatever the translation, the context of loving our neighbor is in that of lovingly correcting them. This is what godly rebuke is all about.

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