Church Discipline: Motives Matter, Part 2
Last week, we started considering the right motives for church discipline. This week, we’ll finish that list.
A second proper motive is a genuine love for Christ, whose honor is diminished by the sin of his people. We have seen this all too vividly in the scandals of the Roman Catholic Church over the past 15 years. It is scandalous enough what some priests have done to those in their care. But the most sensational aspect of the news stories has been the unconscionable way in which the Roman Catholic Church has covered up these scandals and refused justice to the victims. This must not be how the bride of Christ conducts herself. When the Session pursues an unrepentant sinner, they are in effect saying, “This is not ok! This is not how a follower of Christ behaves!” Christians need to hear that message! And the world needs to hear it as well. Christ is not ok with our sin. That is not the gospel. Christ detests our sin. And the proof of that is that he took the full weight of the wrath of God against our sins on the cross to do away with them.
Third, the Session is motivated by a genuine love for the Church. What would happen in the life and fellowship of the church if we were allowed to sin against one another and no one, not even the Session, ever stepped in and said, “No! This is not right!”? We would be no different from the world and both our horizontal relationships with one another and our vertical relationship with God would slowly (or sometimes rapidly!) become lifeless. We would be hypocrites. What would we be calling people to in the gospel? What sanctification would the church ever experience? No, we maintain the purity and witness of the church by engaging in consistent, loving church discipline.
You see, godly church discipline is for building up and not for destruction! Our hope is always that the sinner will repent and be restored!
We’ve seen now what discipline is and why we do it. How should the church go about doing it? We’ll consider that next week.
Your fellow servant of Christ,