Keeping the Church Holy, Healthy and Free: Matthew 18:15-22
Keeping the Church Holy, Healthy and Free: Matthew 18:15-22By: Todd Hudnall
This past weekend’s message was on how to break free from bitterness. There are few situations that bring freedom like when we forgive someone we have locked in with our bitterness. Please be sure to complete your Break Free study guide lesson this week.
Matthew 18:15-20 contains instruction I’ve seen often misapplied and more often not applied when it should have been. There is both a direct application for the church and principles for healthy relationships in this passage.
Matt. 18:15 “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.
Too often when people have been wounded, hurt or offended by someone, they talk to others about it, rather than going directly to the wrongdoer. Over the years, I’ve discovered when I go directly to the person, typically the problem is quickly resolved. In this passage it is not a simple disagreement being confronted but there is sin involved.
Matt. 18:16 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.’
Obviously this is a situation of consequence. A sin is involved. I’ve had this happen on a few occasions over the years and every time it has defused the problem. The times it hasn’t is when the person has been unwilling to meet with the group.
Matt. 18:17 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.
The situation is at a very serious to take it to this level. Again this is no a light matter but sin is involved. Such situations should be taken to whatever level it directly affects people.
Matt. 18:18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
There are some things that only God can do, then there are other things he expects us to do. When there is a situation as outlined above, we shouldn’t simply sit around and pray about it. We pray about it and then confront the situation. We have the power to bind and loose people with the power of forgiveness.
Matt. 18:19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
There is tremendous power when believers unite together to accomplish Kingdom objectives. This includes the supernaturally synergy that occurs when believers pray together. We see this throughout Scripture. In this case it is in the context of dealing with church discipline. God will supernaturally get involved in assisting church leaders in keeping the church holy and healthy.
Matt. 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Matt. 18:22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Peter must feel his offer is generous but Jesus raises the level of love and forgiveness his followers are to demonstrate. Just as Lamech (Gen. 4:24) desired revenge seventy-seven times, Jesus is calling on his followers to forgive seventy-seven times (an excessive number that means unlimited). These verses are the backdrop for the parable that follows.