15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15–17, NKJV)
Matthew 18:15-17 does not address how to deal with the public sins of Christians. Galatians 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 5 give us examples of such public sins, and how to handle them, as we attempt to save the lost and protect the saved. We misapply Matthew 18:15-17 when we demand following its procedure when such public sins occur. This passage is the Lord’s prescription for saving souls when personal, private sin takes place. The Lord’s teaching is not about getting rid of some one, but about saving the soul of the one who has gone astray (Galatians 6:1-2). When we are approached about sinning against a brother or sister in Christ, may we humbly hear the evidence, and repent of every transgression. And, if we are sinned against, may we follow the Lord’s instructions given here, to save one who has gone astray.
And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:17, NKJV)
In Matthew 18:15-17, the Lord teaches a deliberate approach to resolving sinful conflict between His disciples. Each step is designed to seek and save the lost (Matthew 18:10-14). At this point, previous attempts have failed to bring the sinning brother to repentance concerning his sin against a brother. Now, it is time to inform the church of the Christian’s lack of repentance, so the church can get involved in trying to rescue the sinner (James 5:19-20). Each member of the church is to reach out to the erring Christian, attempting to bring him or her back to the Lord’s salvation. By taking a united action of trying to save the sinner, the church is being careful not to put a stumbling block before Christ’s little one (remember the broader context of this passage, Matthew 18:6-14). Now is the time for each Christian to work to bring the sinner to repentance. That is why a private sin now must be made public to the church. A soul is in danger!
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6–8, NKJV)
Jesus is compared to two very different stones in this passage. First, He is the chief cornerstone from whom the temple of God, the church, has been measured and built (1 Peter 2:4-6; Matthew 16:18). Chosen by God for His preciousness, believers who trust Him will not be put to shame, for they are “living stones” in God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). Second, Jesus is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to those who reject Him as the chief cornerstone. Refusing to put their faith in Him, they disobey His word. The disobedient are set (appointed) to stumble over Christ in their unbelief. Christ has been set as the chief cornerstone of God’s house. By believing and obeying His word, He will not be a rock of offense over which you fall, but the precious, living stone who gives life to you (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33, NKJV)
Marriage is a figure of the relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:22-32). Under this figure, we learn how to conduct ourselves toward Christ. And, we learn how God expects us to conduct ourselves in our marriages. Jesus Christ loved the church and sacrificed His life to cleanse and sanctify her (Eph. 5:25-27). His sacrificial love compels the church to eagerly submit to Christ (“the head of the church”) in everything (Eph. 5:23-24). Like Christ, the husband is the “head of the wife,” and is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:23, 25). And, “just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything” (Eph. 5:24). Jesus is the great Servant-Leader, who died so His bride, the church, could live. As a husband, you must be a Servant-Leader, serving the best interests of your wife with sacrificial love. And, just as the church adores and honors Christ by following His leadership, the wife is to respect and honor her husband by following his leadership in all things. Such unity of mind and purpose between Christ and His church produces a fulfilled, holy, and eternal relationship (Eph. 5:27). Likewise, marriage thrives when God’s will is followed by the husband and the wife. Husband, love your wife and be the leader God wants you to be in your home. Wife, honor your husband with loving respect.
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, (Isaiah 62:6, NKJV)
Jehovah’s prophet, Isaiah, speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s people under the new covenant of Christ (Galatians 4:24-26; Hebrews 12:22). This is a prophetic reference to the church of Christ. God is pictured giving protective watch care over His people. Just as ancient cities had watchmen on their walls to warn of approaching danger, the Lord God has equipped His church with watchmen, who watch for our souls. Elders in every church “watch out for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). Gospel preachers are to be “watchful in all things” (2 Timothy 4:5). Each Christian is to “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Christians watch for spiritual danger to themselves, and to their brethren. What a blessing it is to be warned of spiritual danger! God’s watchmen “never hold their peace” as they speak of the Lord and His salvation. God has placed on the walls of Zion. Instead of refusing the watchman’s warnings of sin, hear and heed the warnings given from the Lord. To do so is to accept God’s protection of your soul.
Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever. (Psalm 93:5, NKJV)
God is the eternal sovereign over heaven and earth. As our Creator and Sustainer, we have calm assurance that His commands attest to His power, wisdom, and holiness (see Psalm 19:7). His testimonies are “very sure” (they are certain, without discrepancy, and having no doubt). God’s commandments reflect His holiness and His certainty (James 1:17). The psalmist observed that holiness beautifies the house (temple) of God. The New Testament teaches that God’s house is not the temple Solomon built; it is the church Jesus built (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5). Like our God, the church is to be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Peter 1:15-16). As we choose to trust and obey the sure and holy testimonies of God, we put our faith in Him whose “throne is established from of old,” and in Him who is worthy of eternal praise (Psalm 93:2).
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4–6, NKJV)
This is God’s platform of unity for the church of Christ. There is one body, or church, not many churches (denominations) that establish division among believers. There is one Spirit, who leads us and unites us by the gospel truth He revealed, inspired and confirmed. There is one hope reserved in heaven for Christians; not the hope of an idyllic earth for all of humanity (1 Peter 1:3-5). Unity is arranged under the authority of one Lord; Jesus Christ (Acts 2:34-36). Unity is preserved when we do all things by His authority (Colossians 3:17). We do not write or accept creeds to elucidate unity – the faith that was once for all delivered is our sufficient guide (Jude 3). The Great Commission baptism of repentant believers for the remission of sins is the only baptism God recognizes (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38). All other baptisms introduce error and cause division. We have one Father who is in heaven; not many clerical “fathers” on earth (Matthew 23:9). God, our heavenly Father, is sovereign over all things. He pervades and sustains all things. He dwells among His people (Ephesians 2:22). Let us unite on truth. This is the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21).