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How many churches split, not over doctrinal differences, but over personal offenses? What does the Bible say to help us avoid "bit[ing] and devour[ing] one another so that we do not "consume one another"? (See Galatians 5:15.) Because even the best of us still have a sinful nature inherited from Adam, it is inevitable that Christians will step on each other's toes, offend one another, and expose our blind spots. How do fellow Christians address these while promoting peace, love, and unity in the Body of Christ? It Part 2 of this topical series embedded above, we look at two internal aspects to the Matthew 18 procedure that are of first importance.
[get_product id="1206" align="right" "medium"]The same basic civil procedure given in Old Testament passages such as Deuteronomy 17 is declared by Jesus Christ for also handling inter-personal disputes within the Church. (See Matthew 18:15-17.) Specifically, the requirement that no shaming or punishing should be done without following a procedure of proof by the mouth of two or three witnesses. These procedures are applicable in both Old and New Testaments to both civil and personal offenses because they are both an application of the holy, loving nature of God, and His plan for His people. It is because of these safeguards that our founding fathers embedded the judicial requirement in our nation that a person is "innocent until proven guilty." Many nations prior to America did not have this safeguard, but the Christian influence of the Reformation and the Puritans led England to fight two civil wars with King Charles I partly over that issue, and then led the United States to apply that legacy. The Law of God would rather allow a guilty man to escape penalty than to allow an innocent man to suffer in error.
For the Christian who has the Spirit of God resting upon him and indwelling him (I Peter 4:14; I John 4:13), the Word of God also teaches two important truths about our internal examination. These are addressed in this message.
When we start to speak about the "internal" responsibilities of Christians, one may mistake that we are drifting into pietism. There is a difference between pietism and Christian piety. Pietism attempts to make our relationship with God completely internal and personal, and often subjective and nominal. Piety, on the other hand, requires our devotion to Christ be so strong that it flows out to our other human relationships and transforms the way we live in our families, churches, and governments.
May our genuine Christian piety transform the way we resolve conflicts with our fellow men as it leads us to faithfully apply the commands of God in every area of life. "If ye love me," said Jesus Christ, "keep my commandments" (John 14:15).