Faithlife
Faithlife

Winning Your Brother

Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

Introduction

I really love my children. But, what I’ve come to realize is that my children are sinners. Because they are sinners, they have to be disciplined. And so, I’m in that uncomfortable position now of knowing exactly what our parents meant back when they said, “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.”
In our house, lying is a capitol offense. We have a zero tolerance policy on lying, and GK knows this. But several weeks back, she and I were play together and having fun. And, then, for no apparent reason, she lied to me about something that didn’t even matter. I mean, we’re laughing and having the best time, and she just spews out this lie for a reason I will never know. When I asked her, she confessed that she had lied to me. When I asked her why, she didn't even know why she did it. And, I had to discipline her. And I hated every second of it.
But, I disciplined her because I love her. I wasn't angry. I was heartbroken. I did not do it because it made me feel better or because I wanted her to be repaid for her wrongdoing. The only reason that I disciplined my daughter is because I want her to be saved from the destructiveness of lying. I want her to know that her own heart will deceive her and that consequences are definite. This morning, we're going to see how this type of sorrowful, painful, gut-wrenching love is worked out within the life of a church family.

God’s Word

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Loving Lost Sheep

“does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one who went astray?” Now, the thing about this passage is that it can really be viewed as a negative passage, if you only lock in on these six verses. Oh, but if you place it in the context of what Jesus has been saying, it is really quite beautiful, and you’re able to see what a description of love this really is. In , Jesus has been talking with his disciples about what life is going to look like in the Christian community. That is, Jesus is preparing them for life within the church for the long haul. This conversation all came about because the disciples weren’t getting along very well. A rivalry had came up among them and an argument had ensued. And so, Jesus brought this little child into the middle of the group, and he held up this boy that had no standing in the world, no illusions of his own entitlements, totally dependent on others for his well-being, and He said this is what it looks like to be great in the Kingdom of God. And then, Jesus told a story. He told this story because He knew that his disciples would sometimes stray away, and He knew that the tendency of the others would be to look down upon the one who strayed and to kick the one who was down and to feel themselves as being greater than the one who has fallen. So, Jesus tells the story of a shepherd with a modest flock of 100 sheep that has one wayward sheep that has strayed away. The shepherd leaves the 99, and he pursues the one straying sheep until finally he is able to find it and bring it back into the flock. Oh and the shepherd celebrates and rejoices with all of his heart upon finding the once lost sheep. And, Jesus’ point to his disciples was that this is how they are to care for one another. Because they are ‘little ones’ in the Kingdom of God, because they are humble, they will pursue any wayward disciple with all of their hearts so that they might bring them back into the fold. And that is the context of verses 15-20. This is about love. This about grace. This is about refusing to quit on someone. This is about rescue and deliverance. This is about the gospel!

(When) Your Brother Sins Against You

The Offended

“if your brother sins against you” In verse 15, Jesus starts off by saying, “If your brother sins against you.” Now, your translation may exclude the phrase ‘against you.’ There is quite a bit of debate as to whether that phrase is actually a part of the original text. Some of the oldest manuscripts exclude it, but it is found in others. The good news is that it changes the meaning very little as it is still clearly instance of private sin that is intended to be handled privately if at all possible. I do think that the ‘against you’ is probably part of the original text. Now, Jesus uses the word ‘if’ here, but the truth is that He could have just as well have used ‘when’, couldn’t he? Because this is going to happen.

Don’t hold your brother at arm’s length.

APPLICATION: Your brother or sister in Christ is going to sin against you. Jesus here is telling us to expect it and how to handle it. For many Christians, especially those who are young in their faith, when this happens, it throws them in a tailspin. And, truthfully, I don’t care how long you’ve been a Christian or how long you’ve been in the church, when this happens, it’s painful. But, the first thing that I want you to notice from the perspective of the one who has been sinned against is that you cannot let the presence of sin and the potential for pain in the church to cause you to hold the church at arm’s length. Jesus’ first instruction to us when we’ve been hurt and wounded is not to run from our brother or to withdraw from our church; it is to go to him! Go to him! Go to him so that you can be unified. Go to him so that reconciliation can happen.

(When) You Sin Against Your brother

It’s important to note in our text that there are essentially two main characters. There is the one that has been sinned against, and there is the one that has committed the sin. And, as we walk through this text, it’s important for us to realize that at one point or another, we will be each of these people. As we walk as recovering sinners through this broken world, we will at some point be hurt by others, and at the same time, we will at some point hurt someone else. So, this text prepares us not only to give correction, but to receive it. You are always living with two simultaneous realities in the Church: You are a disciple, and you are a disciple-maker. You are to receive instruction and correction and help, and you are to give instruction, correction, and help.

Don’t hold your brother at arm’s length.

APPLICATION: And, what Jesus was teaching his disciples that day is that kind, godly, humble correction is a gift of grace to the one in sin. It’s an act of love, and Jesus’ disciples are to receive it that way. When you're caught in sin, your heart will either harden or it will humble. And, a regenerate heart, a heart filled with a passion of Christ, a heart sealed by the Holy Spirit is a heart that will humble itself and receive correction. Have you ever considered that being caught in your sin is a gift of grace from God to save you from further damage?
APPLICATION: Your brother or sister in Christ is going to sin against you. Jesus here is telling us to expect it and how to handle it. For many Christians, especially those who are young in their faith, when this happens, it throws them in a tailspin. And, truthfully, I don’t care how long you’ve been a Christian or how long you’ve been in the church, when this happens, it’s painful. But, the first thing that I want you to notice from the perspective of the one who has been sinned against is that you cannot let the presence of sin and the potential for pain in the church to cause you to hold the church at arm’s length. Jesus’ first instruction to us when we’ve been hurt and wounded is not to run from our brother or to withdraw from our church; it is to go to him! Go to him! Go to him so that you can be unified. Go to him so that reconciliation can happen.
Have you ever considered that being caught in your sin is a gift of grace from God to save you from further damage?

Pursue your brother’s good.

“you have gained your brother” Now, I want you to really look at the language that is being used here, especially in verse 15. Truthfully, verse 15 is a very regular part of our discipleship, and 95% of the time it should never go a step past this very step. This is just part of living with other sinners, whether it’s in your house, or it’s in your church. But, 95% of the time this is as far as it even goes because this is just part of our discipleship in the faith. But, notice the language that’s used here because it sets the tone for the rest of the text. It calls him your brother, and so right out of the gate, Jesus is saying that this is about family! Then, He says that it’s about ‘gaining’ your brother. Your translation may even use the phrase ‘you have WON your brother.’ In other words, the whole goal of going to your brother, the whole reason that you are supposed to ‘go to him’ is that He might be saved. The goal is not to make you feel better. The goal is not vengeance. The goal is not the airing of grievances. It’s not to address all of your pet peeves. The goal is that your brother might be restored, rescued, won back over to the gospel way of life again.
APPLICATION: There’s something extraordinarily gospel-centered in that. You’ve been sinned against, but you are to pursue your brother’s good, not your own. This is the gospel, isn’t it? Jesus did not do what was best of himself on the cross; Jesus did what was best for us there. The gospel is, at its very core, pursuing the good of a sinner for the sake of that sinner. And, this is our responsibility to one another in the church.

Back Off or Press On

“take one or two others along with you” Now, most of the time, people who are full of the Holy Spirit will receive humble, gentle correction with grace and repentance. And, we should not be quick to move beyond the initial conversation. But, if your brother is determined to continue in sin that could destroy him, you have to love him enough to not let him just go. You can’t. This is your brother that we’re talking about. This is one of God’s ‘little ones’ that we’re talking about. Not even one is an acceptable loss! So, Jesus says that you should find one or two others and go to him. You’ll notice that the goal here is to keep this circle as small as possible for as long as possible. The goal is not to humiliate your brother or to damage your brother’s reputation or to build up a posse against your brother, it is to save him! So, this is not building a posse. Get those images of pitchforks and angry villagers out of your heads! So, there’s no place for gossip here! There’s no place for unnecessarily damaging the name and reputation of one of God’s children.
APPLICATION: Jesus is quoting here from from a passage on how to handle difficult judgements among the people of God. They had to have two or three witnesses for something to be verified. That’s the case here to. So, the reason that this is an important step is because it’s going to tell you whether you should press on or back off. And, you have to be humble and courageous enough to accept either. You see, you’re not going to get these witnesses for the purpose of building an alliance. You’re going to find objective people that love you and love the one in sin so that the situation can be viewed through fresh eyes and addressed with a fresh voice. I think this is the purpose of verse 19. You’re coming together not to crush your brother or to gossip about your brother. You are coming together to seek God’s face on his account. That’s what it means when it says, “if two of you agree on earth about anything, it will be done for them.” So, seeking the Lord together, you must decide together whether you must press on or back off.
RC. Sproul talks about the difference between offense given and offense taken. “If I insult you, slander you, or lie to you, I certainly give offense to you. However, you may or may not choose to take offense against me for such things. Likewise, I may so or do something to you that is not sinful, yet you find it offensive. In that case I did not give offense to you, but you chose to take offense.” So, it’s important to be self-aware: Have I taken unnecessary offense here? Am I making something a bigger issue than it is? Or, is my brother going to destroy himself?

Cast Out to Be Brought In

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” But, as heartbreaking as it is, sometimes, a sinner wrapped up in his sin, wrapped up in his affair, determined to live life his way, even refuses to listen to all godly wisdom and calls to repentance. And so, Jesus says that we are to begin regarding this person as an unbeliever. In , Paul says that we are to ‘deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.’ Even as difficult as this is, even as gut-wrenching as this is, even as painful as this is, it’s intention is for the good of the other. It is an act of love so that this ‘little one’ can be saved! It is an act of love so that they can realize the gravity of their sin so that they can come into the fold. So, we cast them out only so that they might be brought back in! The only sin which necessitates this step is the sin of unrepentance. Every sin can be forgiven! No sin disqualifies you from the church except a blatant, flagrant, obstinate refusal to repent of your sin.
The significance of the Church in your life cannot be lost here: Church membership, in the eyes of Jesus, is a soul-saving necessity. There are so many people today that believe that church membership is a non-biblical concept created by preachers. But, Jesus is talking about it right here. If there is not clearly defined body of believers, than there is no way for one to be cast out from that body. If there is not membership, then Jesus would not be able to say here and Paul in that we are to exclude one from the fellowship of believers. In , Paul even talks about the sin outside the church verses the sin within the church. No! Church membership is the creation of Christ Jesus himself as the fellowship of believers who are intended to be used by Jesus to help one another persevere. To help one another not stray from the faith. To help one another work out their salvation. To protect each other from our own tendency toward sin. And, Jesus even goes so far as to say that “Isolation from the church reflects separation from (Him).” (Platt) In other words, unity with the church expresses unity with Jesus. Separation from the church expresses separation from Christ, for it shows an unwillingness to live a live of submission and accountability. APPLICATION: Take your church membership seriously, brothers and sisters. Take it as seriously as Jesus takes it. And, use it as a motive for worship. God gave you the church because He loved you and want care for you.

You go with authority.

“whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” And in the midst of this gut-wrenching work, tear-inducing work, Jesus gives us, at least, two promises. The first promise is that we go with authority. Notice what seems like a strange verse in verse 18. This is virtually Jesus repeating what he said to Peter in . And, remember what happened just before Jesus said this to Peter. Peter had declared that Jesus was the Son of God, and Jesus said to Peter that this was the revelation of God. And, it was by the authority of that revelation that Peter would bind and loose, condemn and acquit. So, Jesus is not saying here what the Catholic Church says, that the Church can give forgiveness or condemnation. Jesus is saying that we, his Church, can, however, go with authority so long as we go in accordance with God’s word. The church, in other words, carries out this difficult work of guarding the purity and unity of the church by the authority of God himself. Ligon Duncan says it this way: “The church is the earthly instrument of Christ’s heavenly rule.”
APPLICATION: This is Jesus’ church, first and foremost. Not ours. Jesus created the church. Not man. Not you, and not me. And so, the church can’t just be operated any way we want, and it has to be led as He has led us. But, as we do this, even as we do this difficult work of loving discipline, we do it with the very authority of Jesus himself. The church is the most power institution in the world when operated in Christ’s way by his authority. So, don’t be timid, Church. Don’t be timid to do that which Christ has called you to do. Don’t be timid to rescue your brother from his sin. Don’t be timid to pursue your sister as she wanders in Sodom. Don’t be timid to walk against the current at work and at school. Don’t be timid to pursue holiness and purity in a world that mocks it. You go with the authority of Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, the Mighty Warrior of the Ages.

I’ll go with you.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” So, Jesus says that you go with authority, and then he says in verse 20, and I’ll go with you. You will not do this work alone! You will not pursue my flock alone! You will not weep alone! You will not pray alone! You will not forgive alone! I will be with you. I will be with you every moment. I will be with you in every conversation. I will be with you in every confrontation. I will be with you through every sorrow! APPLICATION: Aren’t you glad that we don’t have a God that leaves us to do the hard stuff alone? Aren’t you glad that our God isn’t like the other gods that only want us to bring to him our happiness? He is with us in our sorrows! As often as the Bible talks about the difficult things that we will face, it talks about the reality of his ever-present kindness and power with us!

Landing

Whether you are the one who is in sin or you are the one who is in pursuit of the sinner, assures us that God will not leave you alone. That’s the glory of having such a kind Shepherd. That’s the glory of this text. God will not leave you alone so that you continue in your sin and are destroyed. He will send his servant to you. He will send his Church to you. He will pursue you! And, God will not leave you alone to have the difficult conversations of discipleship. He will give you your brothers. He will be with you himself. Our God does not leave us alone!
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