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If Thy Brother Shall Trespass

November 08, 2015

Love your neighbor as yourself is the second great commandment of God. It underpins everything that we do as Christians. Without that love, we cannot fathom what God would have us do with our lives. When the bond of love is tested between believers, Christ and His apostles showed the path to reconciliation -- or, failing that, the cutting of ties with the one shown not to be the believer that they claimed to be. - Bernie Parsons


If Thy Brother Shall Trespass

by Bernie Parsons


Presented to Globe church of Christ on 11-08-2015

Presented to Load church of Christ on 11-15-2015



I keep repeating the two greatest commandments.


Matthew 22:38 "This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."


Love underlies all that we do in our Christian lives. It motivates us. It guides us. It leads us. It shows us the way.


1 Corinthians 13:4 "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."


Love leads us to deal with sin in our own lives and in the lives of others. Confronting sin must be an act of love, not one of malice, revenge or arrogance.


1 Peter 4:8 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."


James 5:19 "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."

Only those with pure intentions are to attempt restoration of a person who has gone astray. One which is spiritual must do so in a spirit of meekness, looking at one’s own weaknesses.


Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5 For every man shall bear his own burden."


When there is an offense committed between two believers, they are to try and work it out.


Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."


If your brother refuses to work it out and reconcile, Jesus tells how the situation should then be handled.


Matthew 18:15 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."


Notice first of all that this has nothing to do with a disagreement over doctrine. These steps deal with wrong that one Christian has perpetrated against another. The first step is a private discussion. One should not involve others at this stage. If the other party refuses to forgive and reconcile, take one or two other Christians with you to witness who is trying to resolve the issue and who is being recalcitrant. If the other party still refuses to work things out, it is to be brought to the attention of the collective body. Refusal to heed the church proves that the person is not truly a believer, and is ignoring the first two great commandments of God. That person is to be treated as the unbeliever that they are.


As we studied not long ago, there are those who reject sound doctrine. They serve their own interests, and are self-righteous.


2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."


Romans 10:2 "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."


For those who refuse the righteousness of God, how does God deal with them? We see a hint from what Jesus said about the preaching of the gospel.


Matthew 10:14 "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet."


Those who rejected the word of God were to be abandoned to their disbelief. This is further shown in the apostle Paul’s remarks.


2 Thessalonians 2:10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."


We need to be careful talking about “church discipline”, which is not a phrase or a concept that I see in the Bible. God does the disciplining, we are to follow His instructions. In fact, the apostle Paul says that a heretical person condemns himself. He is his own judge, prosecuting himself.


Titus 3:8 "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."


We see that, with proper love for God and each other, problems can be resolved between believers. Those who refuse to love one another and solve problems are not actually believers in God and Christ, anyway, and are to be treated as such.



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