Restoring a Brother
Restoring a Brother
Often when the subject of church discipline comes up a common response it to affirm that ‘it doesn’t work’. Such complaint is forgetful that there are several purposes to such discipline. One purpose is to keep the church pure from intentional ungodliness. The brother in 1 Corinthians 5 needed to be disciplined in order that the rest might develop a respect for holiness and purity. Of course the other aspect of such discipline is to cause the brother to put away his sinful ways and repent.
Here in 2 Corinthians 2 we see that such discipline does work even for the second purpose of restoring a brother. Several things are prominent that would seem to make such discipline effective in this manner. First it was done out of love, sorrow, and genuine concern for the brother. Even Paul’s instructions concerning this were written out of affliction, anguish of heart, and with many tears (vs. 4). Second, it was done by the majority of the brothers (vs. 6). This made it a united effort and a united discipline.
Sometimes such discipline does stem from wrong motives and without love and concern for the wrongdoer. More often, there is a segment of the congregation that simply refuses to take their stand with the others. This undoes any effect that might be made by those who actively shared in the discipline.
There comes yet another matter of congregational obedience in this and that is how to treat such a brother when he repents. We are to forgive him (7), comfort him (7) and reaffirm our love for him (8). We are concerned that the shame and embarrassment that comes from being disciplined might overcome his faith.
This aspect of our following Christ is of utmost importance. If Satan can destroy the unity, love, or purity of the local church it will hinder the cause of Christ in that area. We are brethren in this spiritual war and Satan is our common enemy. Such discipline is never enjoyable but it is necessary. When a brother does respond and return there IS joy in heaven (reread Jesus parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son in Luke 16).