Matthew 18:15-20 If Your Brother Sins Against You

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. The Process Of “Gaining Back Your Brother” V. 15

A. “If your brother sins against you…”

1. Brother- The context dictates that it is one Christian sinning against another
2. “Sins”-to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to do or go wrong, to wander
3. “Against you”- Not if they are doing sinful things, but if they sin against you

B. “…go and tell him his fault between you and him alone…”

1. Tell him his fault- (command) to convict/convince, to bring to the light
2. “…alone…” This is key, & where we often fail. Keep it private
Proverbs 17:9
He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

C. “…if he hears you…” If he will consider what is said, (and agree with you…)
D. “…you have gained your brother…”- to gain, to win them over. Reconciliation
E. The Effectiveness Of This Process

1. So simple. No need to call a meeting, spend money, or be publicly embarrassed
2. If both people have hearts to follow Jesus, this can solve so many problems
3. Consider the marriages, friendships, working relationships that would prosper
4. Consider the heartache that would be avoided

II. Why Do We Fail To Do This?

A. Ignorance

1. Some say that 90% of problems between Christians would be solved if we obeyed this.
2. Maybe some don’t know this command, or don’t understand what it means.
3. They may believe that it is always better to keep quiet, & hold things in.

B. Unwillingness

1. Others understand the command, but are uncomfortable in obeying it
2. Many wrongly disobey commands that are out of their “comfort zone”
3. Luke 6:46 “…why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

C. Lack Of Spiritual Maturity

1. Some Christians are easily offended, & have not spiritually sown to their lives
2. They are more moved by emotion than by the Holy Spirit; they lack spiritual depth
3. They want to maintain “peace at any cost”, & avoid any kind of confrontation
4. They’re not led by the Spirit, but are manipulated by their flesh/emotions
5. They fear what the offender’s response might be
6. An immature/critical spirit hinders us from taking the plank out of our own eye. We can’t discern who the problem originates with; we’re blind. (Matt. 7:3-5)
7. Lack of understanding about Jesus’ heart re. reconciliation (Matthew 18:11-14)
8. We become self-focused, and we forget that we sinned against Jesus; He confronted & forgave us when we asked for His forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-36)

D. Carnality

1. Every Christian chooses to be led by the flesh or by the Holy Spirit
2. Galatians 5:16, 17 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

III. Disobedience Is Sin, & Sin Has Consequences

A. Sowing Sinfulness Into Our Own Lives

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

B. Destruction In The Body Of Christ

Galatians 5:16, 1714 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

C. Bitterness; Poisonous Heart

Hebrews 12:14, 15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…

D. Isolationism-

The Christian who refuses to obey this command could be one who is weak in one or more of the following areas: they are sensitive & easily offended, self focused, lacking maturity, & one who doesn’t really value & love the Body of Christ as they should, but prefers to have life their own way. Therefore, they isolate themselves from people, & don’t want to be bothered with loving confrontation. In their isolationism, the unresolved offenses grow deeper, bitterness develops, and they have a very negative approach to fellowship. The result is that they have few friends, and tend to avoid the Body of Christ.

Proverbs 18:1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.

E. Satan Has A Foothold

Ephesians 4:26, 27 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.

IV. Why We Need To Obey This Command

A. It Is A Command Of Jesus
B. It Reflects The Heart Of Jesus (Matthew 18:1-36)
C. The Offender Can Be Greatly Blessed

1. Maybe they don’t even know they offended you, & they value your friendship
2. They don’t want any break of fellowship/friendship with you
3. They may be very ready and willing to receive a word of correction, etc.
4. They can also learn to be careful with a habit/mannerism/speech

D. The Church Is Edified Instead Of Fractured- Ephesians 4:3; 15, 16
E. It Is A Witness To The World

1. So many claim that the church is full of hypocrites. They are often correct
2. John 14:31; John 17:20, 21 Obedience & love testify to the world re. God

F. We Are Blessed When We Obey

1. We sow spiritually into our own lives, & reap a spiritual blessing- (maturity)
2. We have the joy of knowing we have pleased the Lord
3. We are free of that nagging conviction of the Spirit; we have obeyed
4. We may gain back that brother or sister; we must do our part

V. Deciding When To Confront An Offender

A. “Coverable” Sins

1. 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover (hide, veil) a multitude of sins.”
2. Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.
3. Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
4. Every problem cannot be raised and settled, nor should it be
5. The better question might be, “Is this a “coverable offense?” Does it hinder me?

B. Sins To Deal With: “Uncoverable Sins”

1. When the offense deeply affects you
Ephesians 4:26, 27 Wrath- indignation, exasperation
2. This would indicate that there are different levels of offenses
3. Different people are more or less easily offended
4. If the offense drives a wedge between two brothers, it needs to be talked about

VI. 2nd Step: Taking Witnesses

Note- the first step found in v. 15 must come first. If no progress is made, on to step two

A. The Purpose Of Witnesses

1. Bringing witnesses follows the mandate of Deuteronomy 19:15
Deuteronomy 19:15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

a. Established- to be confirmed, validated, proven
b. The witnesses listen and seek to determine if a wrong has been committed

2. Taking witnesses may bring the following result

a. Your complaint is valid, and the offender has indeed sinned against you
b. The witnesses help the offender understand his/her sin
c. The offender may be counseled about how to make things right
d. Conversely…You may discover that you (the offended one) have a plank in your eye, and have not seen the supposed offense clearly
e. Perhaps the counsel of trusted friends will reveal to you that you have over-reacted, or that you are overly sensitive
f. Perhaps through their counsel, you will realize that you are the offender
g. You may discover that you don’t have a heart of reconciliation, but of condemnation. Remember, the goal is to “gain back your brother”. (V. 15)

3. Do not suppose that the witnesses are there only to support you
4. They are to bring needed objectivity & God’s truth to light for both parties

B. Realize That Every Matter Cannot Be Established

1. People may not agree that something was said or done. If a matter is “establishable”, then it can be judged. If not, there may be no recourse
2. It may take multiple visits to reason to warn, exhort, & reason w/ them
3. If a matter is “establishable”, and it is determined that the offender is wrong, then he/she needs to repent & make amends as needed. (2 Corinthians 7:10-12)

VII. Tell It To The Church

A. If The Offender Still Doesn’t Repent, Tell It To The Church

1. Depending on the offense or situation, it might be better to tell just the leadership. Public knowledge might bring reproach on innocent victims

2. At other times, the sin & sinner is revealed to the church congregation, who can then search out the offender, & try to reason with him/her.

a. The congregation has a responsibility to be a part of the resolution.

3. If the offender is unwilling to repent, he is to be put out of fellowship

a. Treated as an unbeliever: loved, but no fellowship, prayer times, etc.
b. The unrepentant offender is to be excluded from the blessings of church participation and Christian fellowship.
c. The unrepentant offender needs to feel the consequences of their sin.
d. 1 Timothy 1:20 “…of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

4. This is also for the spiritual, emotional, physical, & mental protection of the church body. (See 1 Corinthians 5)
5. The goal is always gaining back the offending brother/sister.

B. What About Restoration?

1. How long are they treated as an unbeliever? Until they repent.
2. When repentance comes, restore & forgive the offender. (See 2 Cor. 2:1-11)

C. What Does God Think Of This? Vs. 18-20

1. God says that He will ratify such a decision from Heaven
2. Even a small group of believers can carry out this process…two or three
3. This may indicate that this action be taken on a smaller level, i.e. family, friends
4. SIDE NOTE- The terms binding & loosing on sometimes here taken out of context regarding binding Satan/demons, & loosing God’s power, or Holy Spirit.
5. Christians do have spiritual power & authority from God
6. We ought not to misquote and misapply these verses
7. As these verses are considered and followed in their right context, remember to honor Jesus, who is there in the midst of you/us. (Matthew 18:11)