What is the purpose of church discipline?

Published 8:59 am Friday, April 13, 2018


As we consider why the church should practice discipline/withdrawal of fellowship there are some key ideas that should be remembered. First, the purpose in withdrawing fellowship has nothing to do with vengeance or some retribution towards those who have forsaken the faith. Second, our administration of discipline/withdrawal should be administered with the proper spirit. Third, we should recognize from God’s Word that the purpose of withdrawal of fellowship has a twofold purpose; one is to correct that which is amiss and the second is to protect the purity of the church.
The act of withdrawal is done with the well-being of the erring child of God in mind. In the case of the fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5, the purpose was to motivate the erring to reconsider his actions and put away the sins of the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5). Our purpose as defined by God is to restore the erring back to God (Gal. 6:1; Matthew 18:15-20). Paul reminds us that we must practice discipline to bring shame to the guilty and at the same time we must do so treating the offender as a brother. This demands that we practice discipline with love and concern.
As mentioned earlier there is a twofold purpose involved in discipline. The purity and well-being of the church must be considered. Paul reminds us in Gal. 5:9, that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Sin, left unchecked will lead to the detriment of the whole congregation. Regardless of the sin it must be checked and all attempt made to correct the sin.
Imagine if a congregation willingly allowed members to be involved in sin without consequence. Not only are the other members in danger; but the congregation itself is seen by the world as one who harbors sin and sinful people. It is our responsibility to bring honor and glory to God and prevent the church and God from being reproached and blasphemed (1 Timothy 5:14; 1 Timothy 6:1; 2 Peter 2:2).
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by email at: tmagho1@comcast.net)

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