Why Do We Practice Church Discipline?

Posted by Tim Bice

1. Church Discipline is Biblical.

Both Paul and Jesus commissioned church discipline (Matthew 18:15-181 Corinthians 5Tit 3:10). As Christians, our authority and source for life is God’s Word. It’s the Bible that teaches church discipline is needed.

2. Church Discipline is part of the process of discipleship. 

Discipleship has two arms: a) it is formative. b) it is corrective. In other words, not only are we supposed to care for one another, teach one another, bear one another’s burdens (formative), we are also called to help correct sin in our brothers’ and sisters’ lives (Galatians 6:1James 5:19-20) in order for them to grow as disciples of Jesus.

3. Church Discipline is an act of love.

If our view of God and His gospel is only a partial view, it becomes a weak view. Many believe the gospel is only about forgiveness – a “love without repentance” sort of gospel. Though that is partly true, there is also another element to the gospel. We are definitely forgiven in Christ; but God disciplines us because He LOVES us (Heb 12:6-11). God’s desire is for believers to be shaped into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29). This is a loving desire and as Christ’s body, the church, we are to lovingly correct sin in hope for repentance in our brothers and sisters – not because we are mean or self-righteous, but because we want to love them toward Jesus.

4. Church Discipline serves as a reminder and warning about the danger of sin to the rest of the church.

As we live in a world where sin no longer shocks us, it should be the responsibility of the church to remind one another of the importance of confession and repentance, and the danger of sin.

5. Church Discipline foreshadows what is to come when Jesus judges the world.

Matthew 25 reveals Jesus judging between sheep and goats – the saved and the lost. This is a future reality, and church discipline is a foreshadowing of that reality.

6. Church Discipline increases the health of the church.

We read in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Cleanse out the old leaven…” Just like cancer being removed from the body promotes health, so does unrepentant sinners removed from the Lord’s Supper and membership in the body of Christ. We don’t “kick out” the unrepentant sinner from assembling or hearing God’s Word preached. There is nothing keeping the disciplined person from coming to our general assemblies (Matthew 18:17). However, there are cases when divisive people should be put out of our midst after being warned once or twice (Titus 3:10).

7. Church Discipline shows outsiders that there is a difference between the church and the world.

Most all things in our society work on an accountability basis. For example our jobs, sports, and families all work best when formative and corrective training is taking place. The world understands this. When the world sees the church practicing accountability in truth and love, it takes notice.

8. Church Discipline upholds the reputation and the name of Jesus. 

This is the greatest reason for me personally. We are created in God’s image and once adopted by Him, we are IN CHRIST – that means “in His position.” We, as a church body, are to reflect Him and uphold His reputation.