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Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Cain had sinned by killing his brother Able in a fit of rage [Gen 4] and God confronted him about where his brother Able was. God already knew what had happened, so he asked the question to confront Cain about his sin.

Acts 8:20-24 Simon heard the gospel of Christ, gladly received it, and was baptized. When he saw the power of the Holy Spirit, greed reentered his heart, and he offered them money for the power. Peter confronted him about his sin. Peter urgently instructed him about the consequences of his sin and Simon repented and asked Peter to pray for him. The issue was resolved when Simon was quickly confronted with his sin and its consequences before his heart became callous.

In Galatians chapter 2 Peter was found to be hypocritical by withdrawing himself from the Gentiles when Jews from Jerusalem came to town. This is the same Peter, who at the direction of God the Father, preached the gospel to Cornelius, the first Gentle convert.

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

Galatians 2:14) But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, — Paul instructed them on the proper application of God’s will.

"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (NAS95) (Matthew 18:15) Jesus gave this instruction to save souls!

When you, as an individual Christian learn that a fellow Christian has sinned, YOU are commanded by God to go to that person with a sense of urgency — a soul is in danger. You MAY be the only Christian who knows of their sin; HOWEVER, people of the world know, and the glory of God is tarnished.

The longer you wait the greater the danger their soul is in and the harder their heart will become. Bad practices are a force multiplier, you can get help from another faithful Christian to go with you to them in love to save their soul. (Jude 1:23) save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Look at the urgency in Jude's statement — snatching, grabbing, pulling them out of the fire. As Joe or Jane Christian, we would not hesitate to risk our own lives to save a person we do not even know from a burning building YET we will silently walk away from a friend falling away from God, leaving them in the fire.

(Matthew 18:16) "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. — This process is designed to save a soul without destroying the reputation of the one who has sinned or to bring shame a reproach on the Lord’s church.

(Matthew 18:17) "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.

(Matthew 18:17) "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. (NAS95)


This is the most abused, misunderstood, and poorly implemented process in the scriptures.

If you ask most Christians today the question “ Does congregational discipline work to restore the lost? A large majority will say a resounding “NO.” God gave us clear instructions that make it work for the purpose it was originally designed—save a soul!

Many congregations have chosen to do away with the practice of disciplining unruly members by default, just don’t do it.

Congregational discipline must be viewed in two parts: (1) instructive and (2) corrective.

Instructions must happen before the discipline process, in too many cases there is a lack of instruction. Teaching should involve public instruction for the benefit of all, but it involves much more. It involves getting to know one another, discovering strengths and weaknesses, it involves having an association with each other, so the goal is reaching “CONGRUITY” a point of agreement” Sharing, having all things common, it must be personal and ongoing.

Many weak and feeble Christians could be prevented from falling away IF a solid connection can be made by Christians. How can I “weep with them that weep” and “rejoice with them that rejoice” unless I try HARD to help them make a connection? The importance of establishing “congruity” among members is extremely important!

Here is a good test to use any time you see a person begin to weaken or drift away. What did I offer to make a connection with that person? This requires us to be attentive to the needs of others and remember the “one another passages”.

Most members who are disciplined have similar characteristics.

  1. Not converted to Christ — converted to baptism [they know they should be]
  2. Failure to grow and become weak
  3. Failure to connect — don’t develop congruity
  4. Failure to be shepherded


When a person has committed sin and refuses to repent, his soul is in great jeopardy. They have rejected the efforts of a fellow Christian, rejected the efforts of two or three others, and have involved the ENTIRE congregation.

There are three primary purposes for congregational discipline.

  1. Save the soul of the sinner.
  2. Demonstrate love for the sinner.
  3. Keep the church pure-purge out the sin.
The inspired New Testament writers have provided the reasons for using discipline when a person refuses to repent of their sin.

  1. Immoral living [1 Cor. 5:9,11] unruly or disorderly life [2 Thess. 3:6]
  2. Imitation Christians [2 Tim 3:5]
  3. Ignoring God’s word [2 Thess 3:14]
  4. Division / dissension/hinder the gospel [Rom 16:17]
  5. Factious / Heresy [Titus 3:10]

What causes God’s perfect plan to restore the “drifting or fallen away” to not work?

FAILED REASON #1: Personal involvement — we learn of a Christian who has sinned, and we fail to follow God’s instructions to GO TO that person about their sin. On a Sunday morning when I was 14-15 years old, I saw a Christian buying bootleg whiskey before daylight while I was delivering papers. He was an older man; a highly respected member of the church and I did not have the courage to GO TO him about his sin. This event has haunted me most of my life. I repented of my failure however it was a powerful lesson from decades ago.

FAILED REASON #2: Not my job — That is the elder's job. Too many Christians really are part of the “Silent Majority” when faced with confronting a person in sin and saving a soul in danger.

FAILED REASON #3: Ignorance — The desire to save the lost has not been “implanted” in most Christians. We hear sermons and lessons but the burning desire of the first century is missing. It is like “water off a duck's back” It doesn’t sink in; IT IS NOT PERSONAL.

FAILED REASON #4: Leadership — In many cases, the leaders have failed to be the proper example in personal involvement, and “implanting” the word.

FAILED REASON #5: Generational — Our experience is “it doesn’t work”, that is what we have seen many times because of failures #1-4.


(2 Thessalonians 3:6) But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. (NKJV)

This is a harsh measure with the single purpose of restoring a lost soul. Purge out the sin, remove it, and deliver him to Satan to save his soul.

Withdrawing our association from him is NOT just avoiding him, but rather removing the CONGRGITY that we must have with fellow members [Phil 2:2-5] so that he may be ashamed of his conduct. (2 Thessalonians 3:14) If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.

This is a command given to every Christian when another Christian turns back to the “world.” The action must be carried out by every member of the congregation if it is to have the impact God intended. Most Christians recognize the New Testament teachings, here and in Matt. Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Titus, regarding CORRECTIVE discipline within the church family. But does the “fact” that we carry out what has come to be known as “church discipline” mean that we have dealt correctly with those we mark? I think an important question MUST be asked of “every” member: What did I do to connect to that person before the situation arose that caused the withdrawal? It MUST be personal!

(2 Thessalonians 3:14) If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.


(2 Thessalonians 3:15) Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

The relationship has changed, we no longer enjoy an association — no CONGREGITY, however, encourage, persuade, convince, or beg, [Acts 26:3 begs them to listen] because his soul is in jeopardy, on fire [Jude 1:23] Most of us are pretty inept, probably SORRY in our efforts to be effective in reaching out to anyone who has been disciplined.

An even more difficult part of this process is establishing the proper methods when a close family member is disciplined.

  1. The circumstances must change — the relationship is different because they have severed our spiritual fellowship by disobedience, even if they are still in the home.
  2. Silence gives acceptance to their sin. Eli asks his sons why they are sinning but does nothing about it.
  3. The admonishment “as a brother attitude” must continue — encouraging, persuading even begging them to repent.
  4. It is not enough to make them aware of how you feel. Remember Eli [2 Sam. 3:13] who did not rebuke [restrain] his sons and they became worthless and a curse to Eli and the Lord.

A borrowed quote about a disciplined loved one — “I will give my life for you, but I will not SHARE you with the world.”

(James 5:19-20) My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.