Restoring Straying People: Matthew 18:15-20 15) And if your brother sins , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16) But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18)Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭15‬-‭18‬ In the previous section, Jesus talked about a shepherd going after a sheep that had gone astray. In this text He talks about a Christian that has gone astray. He opens this text by saying; “If your brother sins.” Nothing is more blinding than personal sin. It can launch a man or woman on a path away from God and away from fellowship with other believers. It is often accompanied by self deception, rebellion and bitterness. As soon as possible, intervention is needed. The first step is to go to the person in private. Reach out in love and open a door of communications. The goal is to address sinful behavior. If the person responds, restoration and positive mentoring can proceed. If the person does not respond, you need to assemble a small and confidential intervention team. Jesus said; “take two or three others.” This should be bathed in prayer. It intrigues me that verses 18-20 talk about prayer, and again the word “two” is stressed. This is not a separate context. It is directly related to Matthew 18:15-17. Jesus is telling us that breaking down walls caused by sin is serious intervention. As mentioned above, it often involves confronting a spirit of deception, rebellion and bitterness at this point. The Holy Spirit must be involved at this level. No human is gifted enough to “fix” the problem at this level. This is now a spiritual battle. If these efforts do not result in a “break through”; it is time to get the church involved. Keep in mind, the goal is restoration and not accusation. It is at this level that truth is shared openly to prevent the spread of deception, rebellion and bitterness. Jesus said in John 8:32; “That you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The two or three witness discretely but honestly share the facts they have uncovered. They must do this lovingly and humbly and call the person to repentance and restoration. This also prevents the spread of misinformation and a spirit of deception, rebellion and bitterness within the church. (Notice that I keep coming back to those three schemes of the enemy) Again, this must be bathed in prayer. Hebrews 12:15 says that a root of bitterness can spring up and cause trouble and defile many people. Satan is in the business of destroying marriages, families and churches. Make no mistake, all intervention involving sin is spiritual warfare. Be alert and seek intervention early. Be like the good shepherd, and seek the staying at the first sign of a cold heart or distant spirit. If the person does not respond at this level, it is important to distance them from the church? Why? It is at this point that you turn them over to God for correction and discipline. Let me share the biblical backdrop. The storm did not become calm for those on the ship until they threw Jonah overboard. Up until that point, they were partakes in Jonah’s discipline. When they cast Jonah overboard they were not abandoning him. They were merely turning him over to God. Paul instructed the church at Corinth to take these drastic measures with the man living openly with his fathers wife. (See 1 Corinthians 5 for the full story) Keep in mind; love, forgiveness and restoration are always the goal. Paul drove that point home in 2 Corinthians 2:6-11. When the sinful man repented and turned back to the Lord, Paul instructed the church to quickly forgive and restore him. His reasoning is recorded in 2 Corinthians 2:11; “in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Paul included himself in the list of those who could be taken in by the schemes of Satan. Though intervention can be messy, it is also the front lines where God wants to show up with His grace, power and mercy. We must never forget that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) When done right, this can be the field and seeds for revival and awakening.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global