January 18, 2015
[Gal 6:1 NKJV]
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who [are] spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
[1Pe 5:10 NKJV]
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle [you].
People struggle with sin. It has been an issue since the fall in the garden with Adam and Eve. Every successive generation from that time forward has had to deal with the issue of sin in their lives. Still, God has given us a way out so that when we are tempted we don’t have to succumb to the flesh and sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). But when a person has an issue in their lives where sin has become evidenced then we “who are spiritual,” as it says in Galatians 6:1 are to restore such a one with a spirit of gentleness.
Discipline without restoration is a cruel task master employed by people who are equally culpable with the very same proclivities. The difference is that they will lord it over the one in trespass with no desire to see the person restored. In many circles where legalism is prevalent this is the case. It should be our aim to restore a fallen brother or sister to service. Discipline is for the purpose of restoration. Godly discipline requires no less.
For example, as is the case with church discipline, Matthew points out the purpose and the steps for biblical restoration in Matthew 18.
[Mat 18:12 NKJV]
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
[Mat 18:13 NKJV]
“And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that [sheep] than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
[Mat 18:14 NKJV]
“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
[Mat 18:15 NKJV]
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
[Mat 18:16 NKJV]
“But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’
[Mat 18:17 NKJV]
“And if he refuses to hear them, tell [it] to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
Here we see the purpose is for biblical restoration. Often times we skim over verses 12-14 as if they do not apply to church discipline. The fact is that purpose for church discipline is spelled out in these verses. When a brother or sister goes astray in their Christian walk, it is up to the shepherd to leave the 99 to seek the welfare of the one in hopes to bring them back into restoration. And why? Because it is not the will of God that any one of these should perish.
We read in 2 Peter 3:9 the will of God with regard to humanity.
[2Pe 3:9 NKJV]
The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
And so in the balance of the section on discipline in the book of Matthew we see the logistical steps to bringing about biblical restoration for the purpose of bringing a fallen brother or sister back into fellowship. At the end of the day it is about grace.
Pastor Chuck Smith writes:
There are some churches that are severely lacking in the grace of God. There’s often a very harsh, inflexible, and severe form of legalism that allows no room for repentance and restoration. you would be amazed at the flack that I’ve taken because I want to help restore those who are fallen. Whenever I see a talented servant of God fall to the lures of the enemy, I get angry with Satan who seeks to rip off some of our finest servants.
Still there is a great deal of valueÂ in allowing the consequences of sin to take their course for a season in the lives of those who sin. The consequences of suffering serve toÂ perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle a person. When true, godly repentance takes place the person is better off for having suffered. The first thing that we want to do is rescue a person, but in doing so we can also prolong their repentance. Some call it the “school of hard knocks.” In some cases we must put a person who refuses to repent out of the church. In other words, turn them over to the world and its ways; or more succinctly, turn them over to satan.
John McArthur suggests that not only is this acceptable for the church to do, but it is a ministry of the church to do so. He says…
The Scripture clearly teaches that not only is it a possibility to be handed over to Satan but it is a ministry of the church to do that.Â There are times and places and circumstances under the plan of God in which individuals are definitely to be turned over to Satan, and there are times and occasions when God Himself does that very thing. -John McArthur
But the sole purpose in all of this is the same; to bring about restoration. We should long for the fellowship that is out of sorts to be put back into sorts so that restoration may have its perfect work in the lives of those who are fallen. Perhaps their recounting of the events leading up to their fall, the subsequent trial and suffering that resulted, and the process of restoration will be a witness to someone who is going through the very same thing. Perhaps it will deter someone else from embarking on the situation that had lead to the sin. We know that it all works together for the good of those who love the LORD and are the called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). God does allow our sinfulness and repentance thereof to grow us in our dependence upon Him.
The neat thing about restoration is that it brings with it a renewal. The person who is restored is much wiser for having experienced it in most cases and is less apt to wander from the LORD in subsequent experiences. Having been on both sides of the equation: the restorer and the restored, I speak from a place of experience. I can tell you that there is no greater satisfaction than being restored. It starts with salvation, and through the process of sanctification, when and if we blow it, being restored brings about joy and peace in the lives of the one being restored and that joy and peace is communicable as the person is brought back into right fellowship with the church where their spiritual gifts can continued to be exercised for the profit of the body.
I have learned along the way that my rights don’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. I don’t have to worry about defending myself when I am wrongfully accused of something, because God will go before me. I do have a responsibility to consider why an accusation may beÂ leveled against me, whether thereÂ be any validity to it or not. For the most part (emphasis added) people don’t maliciously accuse others of things, and so their perceptions are, to some degree at least, worth considering and validating. I have learned over the course of time in ministry that when you open yourself up to service you will find immediately that you open yourself up to all manner of scrutiny. Ministry requires thick skin, it is not something that you want to do if you are faint of heart. Still when someone accuses you of being a certain way, or says something about your character that is not true, often times the first thing you want to do is defend yourself. It is hard not to when you know you are right. Even Job, who was a righteous man answered his critics. In Job 27:5-7, Job says, “Far be it from me that I should say you are right; Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.” It would appear that even Job maintained his own integrity here. But the point is that I have learned how to learn when criticisms come. Here is what I mean. Whether there is a shred of truth to a criticism or not, there is a perception behind the criticism that warrants my attention. I have been called to not give any appearance of evil, and so if someone takes the time to criticize me (whether right or wrong), I should look at myself to see what it is that would cause someone to find fault with me. I know already that I am a sinner, and so it is plausible that I may be bringing reproach upon myself and not even know it. And so if anything, I should allow these kinds of criticisms to serve as a mirror by which I evaluate myself and find areas in my life that may need to be sured up better. Usually I discover that there is an area or two that needs improvement. And so from that perspective criticism has become my friend in that it alerts me to areas where I can allow refinement.
LORD, thank You for beginning a work in me that is Yours to complete. I am so glad that I have not been left to my own devices to secure my sanctification. Surely I play a role in the process. I must be obedient, I must recognize my need for repentance and then repent, I must be willing to lay down my flesh and die to myself, but without You all of this would be an exercise in futility. I am so overjoyed to know that You love me so much and You want to use me for Your glory and Your purposes. This gives meaning to life. I love You LORD and I thank You for both the seasons on the mountain tops and seasons in the valleys. You know what is best for me and I find safety knowing that You are the one who corrects me. I thank You for the lives of those who You have placed in my life to serve as mentors in my own discipleship even sporadically. I thank You that You have allowed me to be discipled by You, and Your WORD which is infallible. I pray that You would continue to refine my vision for ministry and allow me to humbly see and accept the criticisms of others that I might be the best steward of the time, talents, treasures and spiritual gifts that You have given me. I love You Jesus! Â Â -Amen