Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dealing with People: Issues: When You're Sinned Against (Matt. 18.15-35; 1 Cor. 6.1-11)

Scripture: Matthew 18.15-35; 1 Cor. 6.1-11
Translation: Matt. 18.15If your brother or sister sins against you, go confront him—between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you’ve gained your brother back. 16But if he won’t listen, take one or two people with you again, so that on the basis of two or three witnesses every statement can be established. 17And if he ignores them, tell the church. And if he even ignores the church, [he had better be to you] treat him just like the gentile and the tax collector. 18Amen, I say to you, “whatever you restrain on the earth will be truly restrained in/by heaven. And whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven. 19Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth about every matter which you ask, it will happen for you from My Father, Who is in Heaven, 20because where two or three gather together in My Name, there I am in the middle of them!
21Then Peter went up and said to Him, “Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I will forgive him? Up to seven times? 22Jesus was saying to him, “I’m not telling you up to seven times, but rather up to 77 times. 23By this the kingdom of the heavens is like a human king, who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 24But when he began to settle accounts, a person who owed zillions of dollars was brought to him. 25But when he didn’t have enough to repay, the master commanded him to sell both his wife and his children and all that he had in order to repay. 26So, falling down, the slave bowed down to him saying, “Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything!” 27And because he felt compassion, the master of that slave completely released him and forgave the loan for him.
28And going out that slave found one of his fellow slaves, who owed him a hundred days pay (~$13,700), and grabbing him he was strangling him saying, “Pay back whatever you owe!” 29Then, falling down, his fellow slave was urging him saying, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!” 30But he didn’t want to. Instead, go out, he threw him into prison until he paid back what was owed.
31Then when his fellow slaves saw the things that happened, they were very upset  and went and told their master in detail all the things that happened. 32Then, summoning him, his master was saying to him, “Wicked slave! I forgave you that whole debt, because you urged me! 33Wasn’t it also necessary that you have mercy on your fellow slave like I also had mercy on you?! 34And becoming angry his master handed him over to the torturers until he paid back all that was owed. 35In the same way also My Heavenly Father will do to you, if each one of you forgive his brother from your hearts!
1 Cor.6.1Do any of you who has something against the other person dare to be judged before unjust people and not before holy people? 2Or don’t you know that the holy people will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, you are unworthy of insignificant law-courts? 3Don’t you know that we will judge angels, but indeed not the things of everyday life? 4So if you might have everyday law-courts, these people being disdained by the church, do you appoint them? 5I’m telling you for shame. In this way is there not any wise person among you, who is able to discerningly judge between his brother? 6Instead, brother with brother is judged—and this before unbelievers! 7It is already a total loss for you that you have lawsuits with yourselves! Why not instead be treated unjustly? Why not rather be cheated? 8Instead you act unjustly and cheat—and this you do to brothers! 9Or don’t you know that unjust people will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived! Neither sexual sinners nor idolaters nor adulterers nor passive-homosexual-partners nor active-homosexual partners 10nor thieves nor greedy people! Not dunks, not verbally abusive people, not muggers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And some of you were these things. But you were washed, but you were made holy, but you were made righteous by the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!
1.      Structure
a.       Matthew 18.15-35
                                                              i.      Confrontation and Church Discipline (18.15-20)
                                                            ii.      Are there limits to forgiveness (18.21-35)
1.      Intro:
a.       Question asked: How much do I have to forgive (18.21)
b.      Answer summarized: Infinitely  (18.22)
2.      Parable
a.       King forgives a horribly indebted slave (18.23-27)
b.      The person forgiven zillions refuses to forgive a fellow slave thousands (18.28-30)
c.       King judges the unforgiving slave by removing His forgiveness (18.31-35)
b.      1 Corinthians 6.1-11
                                                              i.      Problem: Christians suing each other
                                                            ii.      Alternative Thinking and Options Outlined
1.      Christians will judge the world, why can’t they judge each other
2.      Christians will judge angels, why can’t they judge each other
3.      Why do you want an ungodly, disreputable judge, not Christians?
                                                          iii.      Transition: don’t you have a Christian who can judge
                                                          iv.      Rebuke:
1.      You sue each other
2.      It is better to be maltreated and cheated than to sue each other
3.      Moreover, you are the ones doing the maltreating and cheating!
4.      Don’t you remember evil people won’t be rewarded
5.      Don’t you remember what you saved from
2.      Themes
a.       Matthew 18.15-35
                                                              i.      Confrontation
                                                            ii.      Gradual increase of involved parties (small number to large)
                                                          iii.      Personal vs. corporate dimensions
                                                          iv.      Forgiveness
                                                            v.      Releasing
                                                          vi.      Restraining
                                                        vii.      Two or three witnesses (legality/wisdom)
                                                      viii.      Judgment
                                                          ix.      Church
                                                            x.      Debts/sins
                                                          xi.      Repayment
b.      1 Corinthians 6.1-11
                                                              i.      Lawsuits
                                                            ii.      Court
                                                          iii.      Judges
                                                          iv.      Judgment
                                                            v.      Future destiny
                                                          vi.      Sins/sinners classes
                                                        vii.      Redemption
3.      Doctrines
a.       Church discipline is important
b.      Resolving personal issues should stay personal if possible
c.       The responsibility is not just to have your personal issue dealt with but to clean out the church body of cancerous sin
d.      Official judgments and forgiveness by believers on earth are ratified in heaven
e.       Christians shouldn’t sue Christians
f.       Forgiveness should be generously given and applied, to infinite degrees and times
g.      God hears and answers prayers

1.      Outline
a.       When You Are Sinned Against Use This Reconciliation/Confrontation Process
                                                              i.      Step 1: Confront them One-on-One
1.      If it succeeds, great! You’ve got your brother or sister back as a healthy member of the family, you’re relationship is restored (although some things will take more time to heal from, there doesn’t need to be unresolved issues between you)
2.      If it fails, proceed to Step 2
                                                            ii.      Step 2: Confront them with 1-2 other healthy Christians
1.      General Advice
a.       While the Bible doesn’t require the other witnesses and people helping to settle the conflict and issue be mature Christians, that is the wise course of action. Immature Christians are not likely to give you the best advice or be the most reconciling presence. That said, perfect Christians don’t exist, so it might be wise to pray about who to ask to go with you and see who the Holy Spirit lays on your heart
b.      practically speaking people you know the sinner(s) will respect and trust to be impartial and loving and humble would be best. You probably don’t want to bring that guy who just stole his girlfriend or you gets on her nerves all the time. you want it to feel like a group of people who care about them coming together to help them sort out the issue, not a bunch of people ganging up on some poor hapless victim
2.      Theological Reasoning
a.       Matters of law, in the OT, always required two-three witnesses that agreed for a conviction. Jesus draws on this principle for the purpose of helping to have a clear picture of what was said and done. moreover, this is a set up for the next steps, which will move from the personal to the corporate level, those steps require honest and clear testimony of more than just one persons so it doesn’t turn into a version he-said-she-said.
b.      Practically this step is necessary to protect both the accused and the accuser from being ganged up on by the church or having a miscarriage of justice
3.      if it succeeds, great! Reconciliation is taking place and the brother or sister or group can be at peace and purpose with you and the rest of the community
4.      If it fails, proceed to Step 3
                                                          iii.      Step 3: Tell the Church
1.      Explanation:
a.       Many times in church discipline, telling the church is considered the final step, just prior to excommunication, i.e. banishment from the church. However, it seems to me that this is actually a step for corporate confrontation and appeal for the brother or sister or group of fellow believers to reconcile, confess their sin, repent and be forgiven
b.      I am not sure exactly how this should look, Jesus doesn’t give a lot of detail here. It is possible Jesus means tell the church, and make it open season for the church to try to confront and convince the rebellious believers to admit their sin and repent.
c.       however, it might also mean this is part of the service, and it is something of a corporate plea to repentance (i.e. the pastors say, so and so has committed this sin, here are the witnesses testimony, what do you say, congregation answers “please turn from your sin and be restored and forgiven”; however, Jesus could mean for this to become a public trial, where the church votes to convict or acquit)
d.      the point is however, the church as whole needs an opportunity to appeal and adjudicate, and the person needs one final chance to repent and be restored
2.      if it succeeds, great! You’ve got your brother or sister back!
3.      If it fails, proceed to Step 4
                                                          iv.      Step 4: Excommunication/Banishment from the Church, Stripping the Person of their Public Status as a Christian
1.      Historically this has meant forbidding them to participate in communion. However, it has also meant banishment from being at corporate functions and intension ostracism by the whole believing community. It is the corporate equivalent not just of a time out, but of derecognition as a Christian
2.      Jesus is telling us to stop treating them like a Christian and start treating them like someone who is under God’s judgment and needs to be saved
3.      It means publically saying, “you’re not part of our family anymore”
4.      This corporate act is not just a human act however, vv.18-20 make it very clear that it is an act ratified, affirmed and backed by God. It is not merely a human proclamation, when it gets to that point, assuming it is of the Holy Spirit and not human politics and feuds, but one of the few times that God speaks a clear and firm word audibly in this world
a.       Jesus’ statements may also have some ramifications on prayer, but we will consider other things here
5.      Finally, it is not just about you personally getting justice, by steps 3-4, by then it is about you receiving justice and achieving reconciliation on a personal level, but it is also about the community achieving reconciliation on a corporate level and cleaning itself of a cancerous sin/sinner. Sin is NOT a private issue! For Christians our sins, when they are unresolved and unrepented, affect the entire body of Christ, which is why we must treat them so seriously
                                                            v.      Typifying the Process for outside of the church
1.      The same general process should be used for our interactions with non-Christians, only with some modification.
a.       Perhaps those confronting don’t have to be Christians
b.      Refusal to repent may sometimes mean moving on to secular corporate authorities, such as the police and law courts
c.       However, it is important to try to settle things personally, then with a small intervention, then move to corporate ways of getting justice
2.      However, Christians should generally speaking not sue each other, because we have this process in the church and much more Godly and trustworthy and wise people to settle our problems than we would find in a human court
b.      Forgive
                                                              i.      All the steps are predicated on forgiveness. If they repent, forgive them.
                                                            ii.      Peter like us wonders how many times we have to go through this process before we just don’t forgive them anymore
                                                          iii.      Jesus tell us as many times as it happens, and then tells a parable to tell us not just as many times as they sin, but no matter what they’ve done
                                                          iv.      Unforgiveness will put you in the realm of unforgiveness
                                                            v.      Remember that God forgave you when you owed much more and deserved far less, so when you are owed far less and deserve as much as the other person, you should be willing to forgive.
                                                          vi.      Judgment will come against anyone unwilling to forgive,
                                                        vii.      Forgive at every step, even after excommunication has taken place
2.      Discussion Questions
a.       How have you handled conflicts and times when someone had sinned against you in the past? did you resolve it?
b.      Does kicking someone out of the family seem loving or humble to you? whose eyes are you looking that the situation through? How could it be humble and loving?

c.       Is it easy for you to forgive? Why or why not? 

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