Matthew 18:16-20 If Your Brother Won’t Hear You

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

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

II. 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)

III. 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)