Flashback Friday: Twisting Matthew 18:15 To Make Sin Acceptable

Originally published April 26, 2016.

Twisting ScriptureSeveral years ago, a personal friend of mine began a very public journey away from biblical Christianity. Claiming to still be a Christian, he adopted a lifestyle that directly contradicted Scriptural principles and he encouraged others to follow his example. When I wrote a comment on his blog challenging his new theological positions, he chastized me for not approaching him privately first, in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Regrettably, I acquiesced to his demand that I confront him privately, because he twisted that very Scripture in an effort to avoid responsibility for his sinful choices.

Matthew 18:15-20 deals with restoring a transgressing brother or sister to fellowship within a local congregation.

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. 16 But 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. 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. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)

As Josh Buice recently wrote in his article, Matthew 18 and the Universal Church, there’s a difference between someone in one’s local church who sins privately and a person like my friend (who lives in another state) whose sin appears, not only in his blog, but also on television interviews and on other websites. The public display of his rebellion eliminates the need for private confrontation because his reputation doesn’t require protection.

I would add that my friend had already committed to his choices. Since Matthew 18:15-20 carries the goal of restoring a person to right relationship with God, it doesn’t really apply to someone who no longer accepts Biblical standards–especially when he or she publicly works to influence others to misinterpret Scripture in respect to that sin. When someone believes and teaches that their behavior meets with God’s approval, twisting the Word of God in order to justly their course of action, we can safely assume that they don’t honestly care about obedience to His Word.

Obviously commenting on my friend’s blog wasn’t going to bring him to repentance, but it could have made his readers think about the matter. Or I could have (and eventually did) written about him in my own blog, warning people against his error. Because he is somewhat of a public figure who writes openly about his lifestyle and beliefs, and because it’s highly unlikely that anyone will dissuade him from his sin unless the Lord miraculously intervenes, I need not talk to him privately before warning others about his false teaching.

I use my experience with him today as an example of how people use Matthew 18:15 out of context in order to silence those who expose their false teaching. Like my friend, they don’t really care about being corrected in a Biblical manner. They want to shame Bible-believing Christians into leaving them unchallenged.

Please be aware that someone who publicly disseminates false doctrine, particularly with the purpose of excusing sin and influencing people to embrace that sin must not be permitted to hide behind Matthew 18:15. Their public espousal of false teaching already demonstrates an unwillingness to repent. Just as they distort other Scriptures to their advantage, so they twist this verse. We need not play their game.

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The Damage We Can Do

 

Psalm 19V14 B&WI want to believe that Brett Kavanaugh is innocent of the sexual assault charges leveled against him. I’m not sure what you want to believe about them, through I reckon your leanings largely depend on your political convictions. As do mine. To honor the Lord in this matter, however, we should set our political agendas aside and pray that the truth would come out.

The fact is, neither you nor I were there on either occasion. We can’t condemn him, nor can we exonerate him. We weren’t there, folks! We have no way of knowing what happened. We can only agree that if he’s guilty, he certainly shouldn’t serve on the Supreme Court.

But what if he’s innocent? What if these women Continue reading

Enough To Make Me Tremble

A few evenings ago, I resumed reading Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue after taking a summer break from it. I read the section on Christ’s trial,  suffering and crucifixion.  As I neared the end of the section, the emphasis on Christ’s willingness to endure all that physical, emotional and spiritual pain to redeem worthless sinners — even a worthless sinner named DebbieLynne — shook me to the core!

I trembled at the seriousness of my sin, because it required the Creator of heaven and earth to go through such undeserved torment. I trembled at the knowledge that I deserve the brutal treatment that He received.

But I also trembled with joy and gratitude. What tremendous love the Lord has for His people! For me! Often, I become so accustomed to the Gospel that I numb myself to the realities of everything Jesus suffered in order to accomplish my salvation. Reading that book reminded me of how deeply and sacrificially He loves me.

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Disappointing Discoveries About God’s Will

God's Will

Before becoming a Christian, I gravitated toward various forms of fortune telling (usually for the purpose of knowing whether or not my romantic aspirations would be gratified). After my conversion, I ardently sought prophecy and “words from the Lord” that would help me determine His will for my life. There’s something in human nature that demands to know how our individual lives will unfold.

In my Bible reading this morning, I thought about the quest to know God’s will as I read Continue reading

After 16 Years, I Still Don’t Know Why

Mr & Mrs K.Tomorrow John and I will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. Sometimes I struggle to believe God has really allowed me, a woman with such extensive physical disabilities, to be married to anyone. It amazes me even more that He allowed me to marry a man who loves Scripture and desires to live in a godly manner.

Of course, we’ve had our squabbles, arguments, fights and yelling matches over the years. We may be disabled, but we’re normal. We’re both wretched sinners who forget to walk in the Spirit, just like any other Christian couple.  I’m not making excuses; I’m simply stating facts so the rest of this article won’t leave the impression Continue reading

Prone To Wander And Grateful For Grace

I doubt that my struggles with sin are unique. There have been far too many times that I’ve told God I wanted out — I wanted to live on my terms rather than His. The fool’s gold of the world seemed so much more attractive than the eternal promises of His kingdom.

Praise God that His Holy Spirit has sealed me for salvation! The Lord, being exceedingly gracious, keeps reminding me of His goodness. I remember that only He has the words of eternal life.

How I praise Him for faithfully keeping me for Himself! I know that, apart from His goodness, I certainly would have forsaken Him years ago, so I praise Him for not allowing me to leave Him. And, with tremendous joy, I look forward to an eternity of worshiping Him.

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