Galatians 6:1 :
Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted.
The Bible tells us that we should “restore” those in the Church who do something wrong. It is easy to take this verse out of context in our present culture. This verse is not saying that we should “ignore” the wrong and turn the other way. Paul talks about rebuke and restoration in other places as well. Here’s what Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 :
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father’s wife. You are puffed up, and didn’t rather mourn, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you. For I most certainly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Obviously, this is not “light” matter. Sin in the church is serious and needs to be dealt with. It’s important for us to see that the goal is that “the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This shows us that the goal was restoration. Now this isn’t the only thing that Paul says about restoration of a sinning Christian. Let’s look at his instructions to Timothy in the Bible:
1 Timothy 5:1-2 :
Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brothers; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity.
Notice that a rebuke of an elderly man, is handled differently. Notice that rebuke of anyone should be like talking to someone in your own family. Respect is a very important in the Church. Now dealing with accusations agains leaders also have special requirements:
1 Timothy 5:19 :
Don’t receive an accusation against an elder, except at the word of two or three witnesses.
We are not allowed start accusing elders individually. Leaders in the church have a special position that requires a different procedure. Even they are to be removed if they will not confess their sin after going through the right process.
Paul makes it very clear that all of these duties must be done in “gentleness.” Why? Because we are prone to do the very same thing and any pride in ourselves sets us up to do the exact thing that we are judging another for. If we have to perform this kind of duty, we are to do it watching out for ourselves!
I think that our churches would be happier if the path to restoration was made clear. If sin is tolerated in our churches, then Christians don’t have a clear path back to the Lord. This is important for the one who needs to be restored and for the whole Church. The goal is always to be to bring that person back into the church as soon as that person repents. That could even be immediate! The man in Corinth eventually repented and was invited back into the Church. Notice that this isn’t “excommunication!” It’s “restoration.” Children of God are always His children. If they persist in doing wrong, it is a sign that they may not be His children. We can’t tell, but if we turn an obstinate one over to Satan, then they won’t fool themselves and if they are sincere, they will return.