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A Culture of Pursuing Holiness Together

A Culture of Pursuing Holiness Together

Here is an excerpt from "Running The Race Together Part 5–The Practice and Purpose of Church Discipline: An Exposition of Matthew 18:17-20 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13"

"In this particular sermon we will be talking about late-stage compassionate confrontation and the eventual church discipline that must take place when a wayward runner refuses to accept correction. Late-stage compassionate confrontation doesn’t come out of nowhere after a church community has been asleep at the wheel, but grows out of a healthy congregation that is in the regular practice of early-stage forms of compassionate confrontation.

What does a ‘pursuing holiness together’ church culture look like? It begins in the gracious soil of mutual love. Our hearts are knit together, our lives are shared with each other, and we truly want one another to flourish in the Lord.

Then in this gracious soil of mutual love there is the grace of preventative exhortation (see Hebrews 3:12-13). Before sin captures any of us, we are already in the habit of engaging seriously with each other in an effort to protect each other from the encroachment of sin and to edify one another in the riches of God’s grace.

Even so, there are times when we do get stuck in sin. So there is also the grace of initial one-on-one confrontation after a brother or sister does fall into sin (Matthew 18:15). This compassionate confrontation isn’t nit-picky meddling but a loving response to the brother or sister who has been captured by the craftiness of sin.

Proactive encouragement, preventative exhortation, and one-on-one confrontation ought to be happening on a regular basis within congregational life. By God’s grace, we won’t need to resort to mid-stage and late-stage confrontation as frequently, and yet we need to be prepared for it.

When initial confrontation doesn’t bear the desired fruit, there is the grace of follow-up confrontation by a two- or three-person rescue team (Matthew 18:16). This small rescue team must establish the facts of the case and then, on the basis of those established facts, urge the sinning brother or sister to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. 

When the follow-up confrontation by the two- or three-person rescue team doesn’t bear the desired fruit, then comes the late-stage confrontation by the whole congregation."

To learn about late-stage confrontation and church discipline, read the whole sermon!