23 comments on “Dealing with “Issues”

  1. One of my sins was unforgiven by my church. Some members chose to forgive me a few years later, but only a few. Im not at all disagreeing the church shad a right to be heartbroken over my sin; however no one wanted to address the sinner. They felt it was easier to banish me and ignore me and talk behind my back as if I was some demon incapable of salvation. Mind you, I was SAVED when I chose to enter into this particular sin – I have no doubt of it. It has taken me more than a few years to reconcile my sin with my salvation, but The Holy Spirit has not failed me. 1 Corinthians 5:3-5
    For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
    Paul basically told the church to let him go. This is what happened to me. I was in a season of sifting.
    In Paul writes later in 2 Corinthians – whether he speaks of the same sinner I do not know, but he does say this:
    5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

    Love. Forgiveness. Both the trademark of Jesus.

    I have yet to return to a church. I tried. I felt the need to let them know of my sin because I did not want to be in hiding so to speak. This is five years later. Needless to say some members were uncomfortable and we were not asked to leave but we were shunned and made to feel unwelcome.

    I am praying for a church of believers who desire to be the hands, feet, mind, heart, etc – oh wait – that is the Body isn’t it?

    I enjoy your posts.

    • I really appreciate that you shared this, for it is all too common. I have no idea what the sin is you refer to, but I do know that “church” is supposed to be in the business of changing lives, of bringing people to repentance and new birth, and accepting then back as prodigal sons and daughters when they do repent and thurn things around. I realize that there are times, and there are particular sins, when the repentant sinner would do better in a new congregation, and that appears to your situation. There are churches out there who will welcome you, and I pray that you find one of them; don’t give up!

      About 25 years ago, I was in the leadership of a church in Nevada. We had three young women visit our church several weeks in a row, and it came to the attention of several of the ladies in the congregation that these women were all employed as prostitutes in a legal brothel just over the county line. One fine day, a delegation of church ladies burst into an elders meeting to demand that we banish these women from attending; they were led by none other than the preacher’s mother, who usually got her way, if you follow my meaning…

      The preacher, to his everlasting credit said, “OK Mom, I’ll throw them out if you can first tell me where they should be on Sunday morning, instead of in church hearing the Gospel.”

      That was the end of the uprising.

      After some time, two of the women stopped attending, but one of them gave her life to Jesus Christ, repented of her ways, got a more appropriate job and is still an active member of that congregation, a ministry leader in fact.

      That is what we are in the business of doing. I will concede that it is a little different in a Christian who goes backward for a time, but then who can name a single Christian who hasn’t tripped up along their way?

      • Amen and what a great testimony of the fact we never ever know what Jesus will do in the life of someone we come across. We may meet someone who is in a pit is sin and has no inclination to climb out in the moment we meet them, but who is to say a seed of love or a seed of mercy or a seed of grace will not grow and be watered along the way – 25 years later or on a death bed that person may be given to Christ and He turn his or her life over because we chose mercy. For a child of God – yes we should help that person and sometimes it means handing them over to satan for a while but after a season and the sinner desires to come home – we should forgive 🙂 just as God forgives us.

  2. Good Morning, Don!

    I think this passage is one of the most challenging in the life of the church, and certainly the most difficult when we counsel or consult in times of church dissension or turmoil.

    You’ve made a critically important observation when you say… “If you noticed the NIV footnote, “sins” in verse 15 is “sins against you” in some old manuscripts, and I might add that it is “sins against you” in some translations as well. ” The difficulty I have often run into when dealing with a church or church leadership over this passage, is the tendency to miss those critically important words, and render this into a “license for thought/lifestyle police”.

    Jesus’ instruction here can either be seen as a means for restoration of grace, fellowship, relationship between two (or more) people who find themselves in direct conflict of offending one another… a means of redressing an individual’s wound or personal injury… OR this can be interpreted as carte blanche to take one’s list of the 600-someodd rules and regulations that define “sin”… and wander about consistently checking everyone’s homework and report card to see if there’s a passing grade.

    This passage is the Inquisitor’s Mandate!

    Those words “against you”… protect from such abuse. Jesus seems (in my own view, with which anyone/everyone is welcome to disagree… just putting this idea out there)… to be saying “when someone treats YOU, (or another… I’m down with that) as less than sacred… hurting or harming YOU (or them)… according to GOD’s commandments of Sinai… “lie, cheat, steal, adultery, kill…”, and as considered through the Sermon on the Mount… when there is direct harm to a RELATIONSHIP… then this is how you handle this…

    That is vastly different from the dozens of “community lifestyle monitors” who criticized Jesus and His disciples constantly for their “lawlessness” and “lifestyle offenses”… They socialized with the unclean, they partied with drunkards, tax collectors, and prostitutes. They didn’t wash their hands properly. They healed and worked on the sabbath. (That was a “capital offense” at the time.)

    Paul would later become even more pointed on all this in Romans 14.

    But even today… with 2000 years of interpretation, theology, hermeneutics, and church practice under our belts… churches are still using this passage to go confront members about “who they hang with” and “where they spend their Saturday nights”… regardless of the love, compassion, and grace those same members may have with each and every member of their church or community.

    It’s just so darned TEMPTING to grab our lists of “Covenant Regulations” (whether that’s 12, or 600 someodd), put on our spiffy scarlet Inquisitor Robes, grab our shackles and branding irons… and head off for some good old-fashioned witch-hunting!

    Thanks for dealing with this passage. And thanks for bringing up those critical words…

    “Against You”….

    They are the difference between the loving Christian brother/sister, and the Gestapo. And I find them often utterly ignored.

    Grace to all! — LM

    • Thanks LM; obviously I quite agree with you, as you’ll see more with the next posts on the passage. It would be so easy if we only grabbed on to the 613 laws od Moses to enforce, but it would seem that like the Pharisees of old, we have another couple thousand on top of those that are the product of tradition, culture, and quite personal preferences, that we like to impose as well, and in the process choking the very life out of the church in some cases.

      Yet here we are, trying to fight the good fight to (you’ll love this) set the church free from that which holds back from having our full portions of the riches of Christ.

  3. Pingback: “For where two or three gather in my name…” | The Life Project

  4. Don, I am working backwards chronologically – and have spent some on this post. The “modern day” thoughts in the comments are as helpful as the post itself. Yet (I speak from experience) I will rarely return to a post to check out the conversation in the comments boxes. In this case – as I come to the post later than usual – her is a great conversation.

    Unless it upsets your sequencing of posts, is it possible to copy/paste the whole post and comments as a new post? Seems to me we take the bible as “them days” as lot of the time – and on this topic in particular. On this topic in particular, a “bringing up to date” might be very helpful.


  5. Very good post Don and insights, tough stuff for sure to deal with. I agree with it all, makes sense.

  6. Pingback: Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Church Discipline, What’s That? – Truth in Palmyra

  7. Pingback: Dealing with “Issues” 1/14/2016 by Don Merritton | God's group

  8. Pingback: Great Questions In the Bible-Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Church Discipline-Whose Business Is It Anyway? – Truth in Palmyra

  9. Pingback: Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Church Discipline, What’s That? – Truth in Palmyra

  10. Pingback: Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Church Discipline-Whose Business Is It Anyway? – Truth in Palmyra

  11. Pingback: Church Discipline Part 3 What Is It Anyway? – Truth in Palmyra

  12. Pingback: Church Discipline Part 4 Whose Business Is it Anyway? – Truth in Palmyra

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