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CHRISTIAN CHURCH – JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE

15 Dec

By Terry Loving

“Discipline must be exercised in the Christian Church; without this it will soon differ but little from the wilderness of this world.”

Within the body of Christ, there is a lot of confusion concerning judging others. Many supporters of church leaders – fallen and “accused” of wrong-doing feel that it is a “sin” to judge their actions, and quote scriptures that allegedly support their views. In the case of Eddie Long for instance, 1 Chronicles 16:22 is quoted a lot in his defense – “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Well, perhaps all believers will do well to practice 1 Thessalonians 5:22 – “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” – thus eliminating the necessity of public defense. I admonish myself first.

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In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul confirms that Christians have the God-given right and duty to judge those within the body of Christ. He says in verses 1 and 2: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud!” Can you imagine how this news hurt and angered Paul, especially the flaunting of such an evil act? It is bad enough that “sexual immorality” is named among the saints – but a man sleeping with “his father’s wife” is a bit much.

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The congregation should have been “filled with grief,” and dis-fellow-shipped the guilty party, instead pride allowed them to tolerate sin among them. Even so, Paul had already “passed judgment on the one who did this,” although he wasn’t physically among this particular body of believers at the time – he was with them “in spirit.” The proper Biblical response to this offense was to “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” Instead, the Corinthian church winked at immorality, and allowed the guilty to remain within their midst.

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Paul had written the Corinthian church “not to associate with sexually immoral people.” He is not referencing the “people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters,” (NIV). For, “In that case you would have to leave this world.”

“But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.” (NASB)

It can’t get any plainer than that. God will judge the unsaved, those outside of the body of Christ – the body is to judge those within. This is called “church discipline,” which isn’t practiced today as it should be.

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“The means of discipline are of various degrees of severity; first, private admonition, then public correction, and, finally, when these prove fruitless, excommunication, or temporary exclusion from all the means of grace and from Christian intercourse. Upon sincere repentance, the fallen one is restored to the communion of the church. The act of discipline is that of the whole congregation in the name of Christ; and Paul himself, though personally absent, excommunicated the fornicator at Corinth with the concurrence of the congregation, and as being, in spirit united with it. In one of the only two passages where our Lord uses the term ecclesia, he speaks of it as a court which, like the Jewish synagogue, has authority to decide disputes and to exercise discipline. In the synagogue, the college of presbyters formed the local court for judicial as well as administrative purposes, but acted in the name of the whole congregation.”1

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In the case of disputes, Christians are to handle them within the body of Christ – “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” (1 Corinthians 6:1)

“Along with Christ, the saints of God are going to judge the whole world – “Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-NIV)

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When the body of Christ ignores offenses committed by its leadership and members – it is doing the church great harm. A woman who is abused and lives with violence should be able to seek help from the church. If she is not believed when she alone exposes the abuse, upon the testimony of “two or three witnesses,” something should be done to help her. If the minister believes the abused and tries to reason with the abuser – and he does not listen – … “take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. (Matthew 18:16)

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To avoid penalizing false accusations in the church, “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” In this case, the abused should not be admonished to “submit” or “cook better.” She brought her case of domestic violence before the leadership of her church – by the Book – and they must – by the Book – do something about it. Domestic violence isn’t about non-submission as much as it is about sin – the sin of violence.

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In conclusion, when sin is tolerated in our churches, it travels throughout the whole congregation. Paul told the Corinthian church, “Your boasting is not good.” “This pride of yours is not good.” “Your glorying is not good.” “It is no good thing–this which you make the ground of your boasting. Do you not know that a little yeast corrupts the whole of the dough?”

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In other words, whatever has the power to corrupt, will eventually destroy the whole body of Christ. As the metaphor of yeast, immorality will spread throughout the church with no one to put it in check according to the Word. What happens then is, true Christians will leave pretentious ministries, and the churches which tolerate what the Bible is against will flourish and set themselves on the course of eternal damnation. So, is it right for Christians to judge the behavior of other Christians – in and out of the pulpit?  Yes it is. The world should see something different when they look at us. They should see Jesus Christ.

1http://christianbookshelf.org/schaff/history_of_the_christian_church_volume_i/section_63_church_discipline.htm

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JUDGE – (W.E. Vines’ Expository Dictionary) – &ltB-2,Verb,350,anakrino> “to examine, investigate, question” – http://www2.mf.no/bibelprog/vines?word=%AFt0001552

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http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org

No portion of this web site may be copied, edited, or used in any form without prior permission.

© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009
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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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4 responses to “CHRISTIAN CHURCH – JUDGE OR NOT TO JUDGE

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