If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 18:15-18).
In yesterday’s post, I looked at how the Holy Spirit protects the Church from teaching error. The words of Jesus are clear as He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide His followers to the truth. As further evidence that this protection is with His Church and not necessarily with individuals, let’s take a look more of the Lord’s words.
If one disciple sins against another, Jesus provides a course of action. First, the wronged party should inform the guilty party in private. If that is ineffective, Jesus recommends “two or three” witnesses be utilized. If even that doesn’t work, take the matter to the Church. If the sinner still refuses to repent…you can use your imagination, but I wouldn’t want to be that person! The Lord further emphasizes the fact that the Church has the authority to make earthly decisions that will be upheld in Heaven. That, my friends, is what I call authority! From this, we can conclude that the Church we’re looking for can teach authoritatively and make binding moral decisions.
Due to the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, we’ll take a break from our journey for a few days. When we resume on Tuesday, we’ll look at the most important passage covered thus far!
Next Tuesday: Jesus founded a Church (Matthew 16:18-19)