Should Christians live in Conflict with One Another?

In today’s sermon from 1 Samuel 18 & 19, Saul is in conflict with David and is not interested in restoration.  Is this proper behavior for a Christian?  The simple answer this question is no.  Christians should never live in conflict or anger with other Christians.  I want to call us as a church to never be OK with slander, gossip, and division.  This reality is so clear in the pages of the Bible.  Jesus tells us that if we are angry with another Christian, we are liable to judgment, and if we speak ill of our brother, we are liable to the hell of fire (Matt. 5:21-22).  Jesus applies that to us by commanding us to always seek restoration with our brother if he or she has something against us (Matt. 5:23-26).

Later in Matthew, we also read Jesus commanding us to go to our brother if they sin against us with the goal of restoration (Matt. 18:15-20).  If we decide to gossip about someone or tell other people what sin they committed rather than going to them in love for the sake of restoration, we are rejecting the words of Jesus and living in rebellion against God.  James commands Christians to not speak against one another, because if we sit in judgment against our brother we are not doing the law. We read in Proverbs 10:18, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.” A mark of a true Christians is not anger and conflict but love, encouragement, and compassion.  Slander, gossip, and anger are marks of unbelievers, but we must put these things to death since these sins are placed in the Bible to describe haters of God (Rom. 1:29-31).  To read more on conflict with Christians as well as slander and gossip read 2 Cor. 12:20, Eph. 4:31, Col. 3:8, 1 Pet. 2:1ff, Lev. 19:16, Titus 3:1-2, Matt. 5:11 below.

 

2 Corinthians 12:20 (ESV) — 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

Ephesians 4:31 (ESV) — 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Colossians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

1 Peter 2:1–3 (ESV) — 1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Leviticus 19:16 (ESV) — 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

Titus 3:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Matthew 5:11 (ESV) — 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

 

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The Church Part 4: Church Discipline

Purpose/Motivation

The first aspect of biblical church discipline that we need to address is one of motive.  The Bible does not simply call the church to practice restorative church discipline.  The Bible calls us to do it in a certain way: With the motive of restoration and purity.

Motive 1: Restoration & Reconciliation (Love).

Consider the following texts:

Galatians 6:1 1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

James 5:20 20let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Timothy 1:20 20among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

1 Corinthians 5:5 5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

The goal of the church as a whole must never be anger, revenge, or punishment.  The primary goal of restorative church discipline in the Bible is one of restoration.  There are two aspect of this restoration.  Restoration of the believer to the church and to God himself.

  1. Reconciliation between the believer and the church.  When sin is present, there also most likely some amount of conflict.  This is because when we sin, we sin agains God but also, secondarily we sin against others.  Furthermore, when the church is walking in purity, a christian who is walking in sin will not fit right within a Biblical church.  This leads to a certain level of distance that can only be fixed through repentance and restoration.
  2. Reconciliation between the believer and the God. When someone is in a pattern of sin, they are not walking in the spirit and are suffering the loss of joy in God. The loving thing to do for this person is to seek to restore him in his walk with the Lord.  He needs to see Jesus as satisfying and his sin and damaging.  Church discipline is trying to lead a dehydrated man from drinking mud to drinking refreshing the water of life in the presence of God.

Motive 2: Purity (Protection)

We must realize as a church that Sin spreads. Consider the following passages:

Hebrews 12:15 15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

1 Corinthians 5:2 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

1 Corinthians 5:6–7 6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

1 Timothy 5:20 20As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Galatians 2:11 11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

Sin causes impurity which tarnishes witness of the church. One of the reasons why the church has a bad reputation for being unloving and being full of conflict is because church discipline is not practiced.  Unrepentant sin is ignored and unbelievers cause divisions and the world sees them as believers- because the church seems to communicate that by “welcoming” them.  Welcoming people who live in sin with no desire to turn from it and run after Jesus to become part of the church is an American invention, not a biblical practice.  This is the death of the church.

This idea that unbelievers come to the church to hear about Jesus comes partly from a misunderstanding of the difference between the Old Covenant and the New.  In the Old Covenant, the people of God had a huge beautiful temple and a beautiful land.  God’s intention is that people would came to them (Think of the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10).  But in the new covenant, we are not called to build big beautiful building and wait for people to come to us.  We are called to “GO and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 18).  We are called to lead people to the cleansing blood of Jesus and then be part of our community called the church.  When someone in the community are not following Jesus, this must be addressed through Church Discipline for the sake of church purity.  God wants to make the Church pure (Eph. 5:27) and we are called to be part of this glorious project by practicing church discipline. It is a serious thing to neglect this practice that God has been very clear on (Rev. 2:20)

When is it Necessary

This list is not exhaustive, but is simply the main examples we find in the Bible. The big factor in this though is consistency and repentance.  Never does the Bible call for church discipline when there is repentance for an offense.  In each instance there seems to be a pattern of habitual sin with an false understanding that sin is ok.

1. A matter of unrepentant sin that cannot be solved privately.

 

Matthew 18:15–17 15“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If 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.

2. Someone Continually Causing Division

Romans 16:17–18 17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Titus 3:10 10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,

Jude 19 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

3. Continual & Unrepentant Incest

1 Corinthians 5:1 1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

4. Continual & Unrepentant Sexual immorality, Greek, idolatry, veiling, drunkenness, swindling

1 Corinthians 5:11 11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

5. Refusing to work

2 Thessalonians 3:6–10 6Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

6. Rejecting Scriptures clear teaching

2 Thessalonians 3:14–15 14If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

7. Continual blasphemy and not holding to the faith and a good conscience.

1 Timothy 1:19–20 19holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

8. Teaching False doctrine.

2 John 10–11 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Romans 16:17 17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

How?

  1. Examine yourself for wrongdoing and a judgmental spirit confessed openly (Matt. 7:1-5).
  2. Understand what the Bible teaches and follow it. Study carefully Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, & Galatians 3 while assuming the best of everyone involved (1 Cor. 13).
  3. Progressively starting with 1 on 1 (Mat 18:15).
  4. With the goal of restoration as we saw above (2 Cor. 2:7-8, 7:8-11).
  5. With a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1)
  6. With forgiveness available (Matt. 18:21-35)

Gender Roles Part I Old Testament Backgrownd

In a culture of confusion on the issue of gender and gender roles, it is important for us to come to a strong biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood.  For the past few years especially, Christians have generally been divided into two camps on the issues of gender roles and what it means to be man and woman.  Starting with Genesis 1, we see that God created man and woman in his image after his likeness (v. 27) and commissioned both of them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion”.  Both egalitarians and complementarians (The two conflicting understandings of gender) agree that men and woman from this text are clearly equal and value and worth being made in God’s image different than the rest of the animal kingdom.  Between these two positions though, the controversy arises on whether men and woman are called by God to carry out their commission in the same way.  In other words, some Christians disagree on if God calls men to subdue the earth and fulfill his will in a different way than women do.   Complementarians say yes and egalitarians say no and the deciding point comes largely in Genesis 2 and 3.  There we have an up close look at the creation of man and woman as well the curses to each.  In Genesis 2, God creates the woman as a helper to the man (v. 20) and as a sign of leadership, the man names the woman (v. 23).  Then in chapter three, God brings the curses to mankind for his sin, focusing on the man and the woman separately.  God curses man by cursing the ground and making work difficult and painful.  God curses the woman by bring a curse on child bearing.  Then, most importantly we see in v. 16 God says to the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you”.  With all of these passages, Egalitarians argue that gender distinctions when it comes to gender roles are a result of the fall.  I personal see these texts, as well as several in the NT, point to clear distinctions between male and female gender roles that was given before the fall, and a distortion that came about after the fall.  In other words, gender roles were not introduces at the fall and therefore need to be abolished, but rather they were distorted and need to be restored.  Looking at Genesis 3:16, which I quoted above, the word desire in the text is clearly referring to a controlling destructive desire (cf. Gen. 4:7), not a respectful submissive desire as egalitarians suggest.  Furthermore, the ruling over that the man will perform due to the fall is not referring to sacrificial leading headship, but in context is referring to an abusing ruling over that is the complete opposite of biblical leadership (Eph. 5:25-28).  In next week’s note from the pastor, I will address NT passages about gender roles.