Sabbath, October 8, 2011

“The Lord desires His followers to exercise great care in dealing with one another. They are to lift up, to restore, to heal. But there is to be in the church no neglect of proper discipline. The members are to regard themselves as pupils in a school, learning how to form characters worthy of their high calling. In the church here below, GodТs children are to be prepared for the great reunion in the church above. Those who here live in harmony with Christ may look forward to an endless life in the family of the redeemed.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 264.

If a brother falls

1. What is the responsibility of the believers in the church if a brother is overcome by sin? How is he to be treated?
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
James 5:19, 20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

“If Christ is in you Сthe hope of glory,Т you will have no disposition to watch others, to expose their errors. Instead of seeking to accuse and condemn, it will be your object to help, to bless, and to save. In dealing with those who are in error, you will heed the injunction, Consider Сthyself, lest thou also be tempted.Т Galatians 6:1. You will call to mind the many times you have erred and how hard it was to find the right way when you had once left it. You will not push your brother into greater darkness, but with a heart full of pity will tell him of his danger.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 128.

“I saw that many have taken advantage of what God has shown in regard to the sins and wrongs of othersЕ. With tender compassion should brother deal with brother. Delicately should he deal with feelings. It is the nicest and most important work that ever yet was done to touch the wrongs of another. With the deepest humility should a brother do this, considering his own weakness, lest he also should be tempted.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 166.

2. What promise is for all who humble themselves, owning up to their mistakes through the grace and righteousness of Christ?
Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

“How mistaken are those who imagine that confession of sin will detract from their dignity, and lessen their influence among their fellow men. Clinging to this erroneous idea, though seeing their faults, many fail to confess them, but rather pass by the wrongs they have done others, so embittering their own lives, and shadowing the lives of others. It will not hurt your dignity to confess your sins. Away with this false dignity. Fall on the Rock and be broken, and Christ will give you the true and heavenly dignity. Let not pride, self-esteem, or self-righteousness keep anyone from confessing his sin, that he may claim the promiseЕ. Keep nothing back from God, and neglect not the confession of your faults to your brethren. СConfess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healedТ (James 5:16). Many a sin is left unconfessed to confront the sinner in the day of final account; better far to confront your sins now, to confess them and put them away, while the atoning Sacrifice pleads in your behalf. Do not fail to learn the will of God on this subject. The health of your soul and the salvation of others depends upon the course you pursue in this matter. СHumble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him: for He careth for you.Т 1 Peter 5:6, 7. The humble and broken heart can appreciate something of the love of God and the cross of Calvary. Ample will be the blessing experienced by him who meets the condition by which he may become a partaker of the favor of God.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 326, 327.

In the spirit of Christ

3. What specific instruction has the Lord given for bringing back to Him one who has fallen into sin?
Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Proverbs 25:9, 10 Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another: Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.

“Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter Сbetween thee and him alone.Т This is God’s plan.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 260; Gospel Workers, p. 498.

“You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to him and taking the steps which God has absolutely commanded. You say: СWhy, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.Т What burdened you? Was it not a plain neglect of your own duty, of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go and tell the offender his fault between you and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how could you be otherwise than burdened unless your heart was hardened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and in your heart hating your brother or neighbor? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission in not telling your brother his fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself by a sin of commission by telling your brotherТs faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease-by committing sin?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 53.

4. What counsel did the Saviour give in the event that a brother refuses to listen and continues in transgression?
Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matthew 18:16. Take with you those who are spiritually minded, and talk with the one in error in regard to the wrong. He may yield to the united appeals of his brethren. As he sees their agreement in the matter, his mind may be enlightened.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 262.

“In a trial for murder the accused was not to be condemned on the testimony of one witness, even though circumstantial evidence might be strong against him. The Lord’s direction was, СWhoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.Т Numbers 35:30. It was Christ who gave to Moses these directions for Israel; and when personally with His disciples on earth, as He taught them how to treat the erring, the Great Teacher repeated the lesson that one manТs testimony is not to acquit or condemn. One manТs views and opinions are not to settle disputed questions. In all these matters two or more are to be associated, and together they are to bear the responsibility, Сthat in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.Т Matthew 18:16.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 516.

Another chance

5. According to Jesus, who should help one who has fallen into sin if he refuses to accept counsel from close brethren?
Matthew 18:17, first part And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.

“The Lord is testing and proving His people. You may be just as severe and critical with your own defective character as you please; but be kind, pitiful, and courteous toward others. Inquire every day: Am I sound to the core, or am I false-hearted? Entreat the Lord to save you from all deception on this point. Eternal interests are involved. While so many are panting after honor and greedy of gain, do you, my beloved brethren, be eagerly seeking the assurance of the love of God and crying: Who will show me how to make my calling and election sure?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 97.

6. However, what should be the result if one who has walked away from obedience will not heed the counsel of the church as a body?
Matthew 18:17, last partBut if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

“СAnd if he shall neglect to hear them,Т what then shall be done? Shall a few persons in a board meeting take upon themselves the responsibility of disfellowshiping the erring one?Е Let the church take action in regard to its membersЕ.

“If he will not heed the voice of the church, if he refuses all the efforts made to reclaim him, upon the church rests the responsibility of separating him from fellowship. His name should then be stricken from the books.

“No church officer should advise, no committee should recommend, nor should any church vote, that the name of a wrongdoer shall be removed from the church books, until the instruction given by Christ has been faithfully followed. When this instruction has been followed, the church has cleared herself before God. The evil must then be made to appear as it is, and must be removed, that it may not become more and more widespread. The health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand before God unsullied, clad in the robes of ChristТs righteousness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pp. 262, 263.

Seek for reconciliation

7. Although the one who has fallen into sin may have been set outside the body of believers, what is still necessary?
2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

 “If the erring one repents and submits to ChristТs discipline, he is to be given another trial. And even if he does not repent, even if he stands outside the church, God’s servants still have a work to do for him. They are to seek earnestly to win him to repentance. And, however aggravated may have been his offense, if he yields to the striving of the Holy Spirit and, by confessing and forsaking his sin, gives evidence of repentance, he is to be forgiven and welcomed to the fold again. His brethren are to encourage him in the right way, treating him as they would wish to be treated were they in his place, considering themselves lest they also be tempted.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 263.

For meditation

“All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun? This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom.

“If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly, and leave them with your heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul; their sin no longer rests upon you; you are not now partaker of their sin. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own head.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 53, 54.

For additional study

Х 1 John 1:8-10; 2:1, 2

Х 1 Corinthians 5:1-11

Х 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Х 1 Timothy 5:19

Х Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 52-54

Х Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pp. 260-264

Х Gospel Workers, pp. 498-502

Х ChristТs Object Lessons, pp. 248, 249

Complete the verse:
If thy brother shall ________against thee, go and tell him his fault _________________________: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.