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. 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. 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. —Matthew 18:15-17
I was having a discussion with a brother in the Lord Jesus yesterday about the serious, destructive and eternal consequences of sin. If a person only sinned one time and never trusted the Lord Jesus that would be enough to keep him from a relationship with God and from going to heaven. That one unforgiven sin has eternal consequences. People do not understand the punishment of hell because they do not understand the hideousness of sin and the holiness of God. People take sin lightly and view it from man’s faulty perspective. Unfortunately, many Christians do this as well.
Think about this. Jesus died and took the punishment for every sin that is past, present and future so we could trust His finished work for us as a sin offering on the cross and come into relationship with God through Him. Those of us who have trusted Jesus are forgiven people and our sins will not be remembered, we have been clothed with Jesus and have been given the righteousness of God (Hebrews 8:12; Galatians 3:27; II Corinthians 5:21). Our sin is cast into the deepest ocean and is cast as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19). It is gone! There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
According to the passage above, if a believer who sins against you refuses to listen to you, to others brought with you or to the church, then he is “be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Believers are to be in fellowship with each other except in cases like this. Just as we are not to be yoked together with unbelievers such as unsaved Gentiles or tax collectors, so too we are not to be yoked together with a professing brother who will not repent of sin (I Corinthians 5; 6:1-7; II Corinthians 2:6-7).
Sin unrepented of in the church is a serious business as mentioned in this passage—
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you” (I Corinthians 5:9-13).
This passage tells us not to even associate with an unrepentant, professing believer. We are to associate with the lost who are involved in sinful behavior that we can share the gospel with them to bring them to repentance and new life in Jesus, but not with those who call themselves believers but are unwilling to repent. Oh, that we would see the seriousness of sin and seek to live a holy life for the Savior. May it be so!
Dear Father, please help me to flee temptation when it comes that I would not sin against You. Help me to ponder the hideousness of sin and what Jesus went through because of it, because of me. Oh, may I live faithfully for Him!