What Comes After Fruitfulness - pt. 3

Steve Viars July 29, 2000 Matthew 18:15-17

- Have you ever purchased an item that had some assembly required?
- probably all of us have.
- How many of you carefully open the package, inventory all the pieces and lay them out on the ground, and then find the instructions and patiently read them before attempting to put anything together?
- there are probably a few people here who do it that way, but for the rest of us [normal people], we can probably think of occasions where we tried to assemble something without carefully studying the directions first.

- now let me ask you this...why don’t we always carefully read the directions?  What excuses might we give? [could take input]

1) Too busy.  We believe it is quicker just to do it ourselves.

2) We don’t need them.  We’re smart enough to put it together without input from the manufacturer.
- those instructions are for people of lesser intelligence....but for people like you and me, who needs the manufacturer’s 2 cents worth of advice?

3) Can’t find them.  They weren’t in the box.  Of course many times we spent exactly 5 seconds really looking for them....but sometimes we use the excuse, I just don’t know where the instructions are.

4)  Can’t understand them.  I read them four times. 
- I had to figure out which portion was written in English.
- the pictures in the instructions don’t match the pieces of the model I have.
- they don’t make sense and it would be easier just to do it my way than to take time to figure out what the manufacturer is trying to say.

- the bottom line is, we have a lot of reasons [or shall we say, excuses], to not follow the instructions.
- now let me ask you this....what often results when we don’t follow the instructions? [could take input]
1) We end up in frustration.

2) We make false accusations about the manufacturer.
- he didn’t make this piece correctly...
- this is a piece of junk

3)  We damage the article.

4) We end up spending a lot more time than if we had just read the instructions in the first place.

5)  We get the item put together, but in a substandard fashion so it only “half works”.

- the reason I’m raising this question this morning is because last week we began talking about a set of instructions that come from God Himself.
- and the process isn’t simply assembling a bike, or hooking up a VCR....

- the process is the matter of restoring a person who has sinned.
- and since we all struggle with sin...
- and we all live with and around people who struggle with sin...
- and we work with people who struggle with sin...
- and we attend church with people who struggle with sin.....
- we need to carefully study God’s instructions on this matter.

- at our church we’ve been doing a series on a list of characteristics in Galatians chapter 5 known as the “Fruit of the Spirit”.
- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
- the last couple of weeks we’ve been asking the question, well, what comes after fruitfulness?
- Paul doesn’t stop the discussion as soon as he concludes the list.

- and we saw last Sunday that a very important answer to that question is, that we have A Desire and a Willingness to Restore.
- God is in the restoration business.
- He’s in the salvaging business.
-  He meets us where we are but He has no intention of leaving us there.

- and what that means for you and me is, when someone in our families is caught in a sinful habit and can’t get out, or won’t get out....
- or when someone from our church is in that situation....

- we can’t ignore it on the one hand, and we can’t cut the person off on the other....we have to work hard at following God’s instructions of communicating with that person, and confronting that person, and seeking to restore that person to God and other people.
- that’s what people who are walking in the Spirit do...
- that’s what people who are developing the fruit of the Spirit do...
- God is in the restoration business and He wants His FRUITFUL children to be an important part of that process.

- now, here’s the bottom line....though we studied some important things last week....there are actually four passages of Scripture that make up the “primary set of instructions” that God has given us on this topic.
- we couldn’t look at all of them last week.
- but this morning we’re going to do something that’s a bit different.

- I’m going to ask us now to read all four passages.....and then we’ll try to lay out God’s instructions for the restoration process.
- so I’d like to ask you to find all four passages, and have them ready to read.
- the first one is our key text in Galatians chapter 6 [page 150 of back section of pew Bibles]
- the next one is Matthew 18:15-20 [page 15 of the back section of your pew Bibles]
- the next one is I Corinthians 5:1-7 [page 132 of the back section of your pew Bibles]
- the last one is easy --- it’s back to Matthew 18 - but this time verses 21-33]
- as we’re reading these verses, I’d like to ask you to be thinking about these three questions...
I.  What is the Restoration Process that God has Outlined in the Bible?
II.  How Important is it for Local Churches to Follow this Process?
III.  What Should be Done After a Person Repents?

- the verses we’re going to read clearly answer all those questions.
- READ Galatians 6:1-5 [develop as you go]
- now please turn to Matthew 18:15-20 [READ and develop]
- now I Corinthians 5:1-7 [READ and develop]
- and lastly, back to Matthew 18:21-33 [READ and develop]

- now, with the time we have left, let’s think about the instructions God’s Word is giving us to the three main questions we posed:


I.  What is the Restoration Process that God has Outlined in the Bible?


- I alluded to this last week so we won’t spend much time here.
- but the process is clearly laid out in Matthew 18:15-17

A.  When a person sins, confront them privately.

- now friends, I need to ask you...are you willing to do that?
- and you might say, does that refer to every little sin that a person could possibly commit?
- no, if that were true, that’s all we’d be doing with one another.
- that’s why we have the balancing verses in both the Old and New Testament that tell us that love covers a multitude of sins.

- that’s also why Galatians 6:1 spoke about a person who was “overtaken in a fault”, or “caught up in a trespass”....
- we’re talking about a sinful habit that is harmful to the person, or their relationship with God. or their relationship to other people, or the testimony of Jesus Christ and our local church.
- and one of the questions I need to ask of you this morning is, are you committed to obeying God in this matter?
- some people absolutely will not deal with issues...and they might believe that they are functioning like a peacemaker when the truth is, they are simply refusing to obey God and work at getting problems solved.

- another possible problem here is with individuals who have no trouble talking about the other person’s sin...it’s just not to the person.
- in other words, they gossip about the issue to other people....
- gossip is talking to anyone who is not part of the problem or the solution....and God has very strong words in the Bible for such behavior.
- so....a) I have to go to the other person...and b) I can’t [at this level], go to anyone else.

B.  If there is no repentance, one or two others should be brought in.
- and please notice, the issue is no longer the sin....the issue now is the refusal to repent [develop].
- it’s also important to note here that the goal is not to be mean, harsh, judgmental...the goal here is to restore a person who appears to not be pleasing God.
C.  If there is still no repentance, the entire church needs to be brought in.
- and  I realize that you might say, I’ve never heard of such a thing.
- I’ve said that a time or two after finally reading the instructions after botching an installation project.
- I’m standing there with a load of leftover parts, and an item that isn’t working right...finally reading the instructions and say, “I’ve never heard of such a thing”
- when anyone standing around would probably say???....it was there in the instructions all along.

- now someone might say, PV, are we talking about relationships inside the church, or outside the church?
- that is a very important question....and we have to think about the answer very carefully.

1) We are definitely talking about relationships inside the church.
2) These principles also apply to a Christian family.
3) They may be applicable with members of two local churches of similar faith and practice.
[develop --- if members of different churches from our town had an unreconciled relationship] --- [could develop story of couple who asked to be married, but man had been disciplined years ago]

4) The principles may be applicable, to a point, in situations even with those outside the church.
[develop --- problems at work]

- now, once you get this process in place, it can very helpful.
- [develop the call you recently took from a wife who’s husband had no interest in physical relations].


- now, let’s talk about the next question....


II.  How Important is it for Local Churches to Follow this Process?


- we saw the answer to that in I Corinthians chapter 5, didn’t we?
- the critical thing to note about this text is that what concerned Paul the most was not the behavior of the man---it was the refusal of the church to do what we’re talking about this morning.
- God wanted to see restoration occur in this situation, and the believers in Jesus Christ in this congregation were not doing what God wanted them to do.

- now, why is this important?
A.  It’s important because of the impact the process can have on the person’s sin.
- this idea of delivering a person up for the destruction of the flesh might be difficult to understand.
- but Paul is not talking about destroying the person....he’s talking about destroying the sin.

- when a person is disciplined from a church, they are no longer under the protection that comes from obedience to God’s Word.
- in their rebellion, they have opened themselves up to the onslaught of our enemy the devil, and he is the great destroyer of all that is good and all that is valuable in a person’s life.
- and no parent ever wants to see this happen, and no church ever wants to see this happen....but if that’s the only way that the individual will repent...then so be it.
- if that places the person in the best possible position to turn around, then so be it.

- see, the bottom line here is, God hates sin....and God knows what sin will do to the life of a human being....
- and He loves human beings so much that He will do whatever is possible to bring them to a point of repentance.
- now, is that God’s first approach?....no [cf. Romans 2:4 - the goodness of God....]
- but many times we don’t respond well to the goodness of God, and the bottom line is, God has other methods....and He sometimes expects us to be involved in those methods.

- there’s an important implication here for child-rearing.
- sometimes parents shield their children from the consequences of their sinfulness....
- their children are rebelling, and they run behind with the umbrella of protection shielding them from consequences when the truth is, the best thing for that child is to be disciplined, and experience some of those consequences.

- so a child gets in trouble at school, and the parent gets mad at the teacher, or the principle, or the discipline that was meted out.
- I’ll tell you, that never happened when I was growing up....
- when I got in trouble at school, it was a matter of seconds between when my mom hung up the phone with my teacher, and my being disciplined....

- and it never occurred to me to argue back....
- it never occurred to me to try to blame it on the teacher....
- there was no question that my parents and my teacher and my principle were all on the same team.....
- they were “in cohoots”, we used to say in the olden days....

- and they weren’t teamed up against me, they were teamed up against my sinfulness....

- [could develop how this was also true with the church --- I was sure Pastor Goode had a direct line to God --- cf. the time he asked me if I was still TP’ing my neighbor’s trees?----how do you answer that question?]

- a second reason it is important for a church to be involved in this process is....
B.  It’s important because the purity of the church is at stake.
- that’s what Paul means in verse 6 when he says that a little bit of leaven leavens the whole lump.
- if a local church wants to be a place that is pleasing God and honoring Him, then they have to be willing to participate in this process.
- if a Christian family wants to be a place where the members are growing in holiness, they have to be committed to this process.

- a little bit of leaven affects the whole lump.

- now, by the way, Paul also makes it clear in this text that we’re not talking about those who don’t know the Lord
- we didn’t take the time to read these verses earlier, but he addresses that in the following verses...[READ 9-13]

- now, one other idea under this heading is, these verses speak specifically about what is happening in the heart of the person who believes they can ignore this process without it affecting the family, or the church....and what is it?  [what is going on in that kind of heart?]
- the answer is “pride”.....
- the belief that that kind of person can be around here without their sin being addressed, and without their sin negatively affecting the rest of the body.
- that is simply not true......
- Paul wanted these folks to get this problem solved biblically because it was in the best interests of the man, and it was in the best interest of the church.

- the point is.....these instructions that the Lord is giving us are very, very important.

- now, let’s get to the exciting part of this.
- what we’ve talked about so far has been hard.....it can be distasteful.....
- but here’s a very important question.....

III.  What Should be Done After a Person Repents?


- many, many, many times....when a person is confronted one on one, they repent.
- many, many, many times....when a person is confronted by more than one person, they repent.
- even when a person is addressed by their entire church family, they repent.

- what should be done then?
- that’s why we also read the parable at the end of Matthew 18?
- the answer is, the oil of biblical forgiveness ought to be liberally applied.

- see, friends, in too many Christian families, and in too many Christian churches....this process is not followed, and as a result.....men and women who are displeasing God do not get to experience the joy of repentance.....
- and in too many Christian families, and in too many Christian churches, because sin is not addresses....men and women don’t get to practice and experience the joy of forgiveness.

- God doesn’t expect us to be sinless, but He does expect us to handle sin well.
- that means there ought to be a lot of repentance taking place in the average Christian family, and in the average Christian church.....and there ought to be a lot of forgiveness taking place as well.

- now, what is forgiveness?
[develop --- a three-fold promise....]

- now, someone might say this morning, but PV, I don’t feel like forgiving them.
- well, how does the parable help us with this matter?
- what’s the point of the parable?
- who is supposed to represent whom in this parable?

- the king is meant to represent God....
- and the servant who owed millions of dollars is....us [because of our huge debt of sin]
- and the second servant is meant to represent whoever sinned against us.

- and friend, the point is, it was ludicrous for the first servant to be unwilling to forgive the one who sinned against him....
- but his unwillingness to do so demonstrated that he did not understand or appreciate how much he had been forgiven.

- if the question we’re posing at this point of our series is, what happens after fruitfulness?
- the answer is, there’s a desire and a willingness to restore those who have fallen into sin.....

- and that means there’s a willingness to confront [or be confronted]
- and that means there’s a willingness to forgive the person who has repented]

- friend, can I ask you how you’re doing at this matter of forgiving?
[develop]

- gospel

- story of the guy in I Corinthians

- story of the Prodigal Son

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video