Christian Discipline (1 Timothy 5:1-12)

(Notes again)

5 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

 

Sermon Outline:

1. Church Discipline Is Family Discipline

2. Church Discipline Is Not Harsh

3. Church Discipline Is Not Immoral

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Illustration: SES Membership Issues
      1. Signing People Up Is Fun
      2. Removing Delinquent Members … Not So Much
        1. Problems - People Become Members But Then Stop Attending
          1. Fallouts And Disagreements
          2. Loss Of Interest
          3. Frustration With Leadership Or Other Aspects Of The Organisation's Operation
          4. Busyness In Other Areas Of Life
        2. Consequences
          1. High turnover of members can affect morale.
          2. Errors in statistics on number of members → planning for state provided training
          3. Skills available → operational readiness.
        3. Resolution
          1. Dealing With Delinquent Members Equally Unenjoyable But Necessary
          2. Potential For Seeking To Ignore Problem
    2. Comparison With Church Discipline
      1. How does this compare with church discipline?
        1. Problems can be very similar
          1. Fallouts And Disagreements
          2. Loss Of Interest
          3. Frustration With Leadership Or Other Aspects Of The Organisation's Operation
          4. Busyness In Other Areas Of Life (Parable Of The Seeds)
        2. Consequences quite different
          1. Worst consequence of a membership issue in SES?
            1. Lack a person with skills needed for a callout, another unit needs to respond.
            2. Perhaps in some extreme circumstance a person's life might be lost, but that would be incredibly unlikely.
            3. Waste of time and money.
          2. Worst consequence of a membership issue in the church?
            1. The stakes are much higher because the church is not just a club. Our lives on this earth might seem long, but they are nothing compared to eternity. What is at stake is not merely the life of a person on this earth, but their eternal destiny.
            2. The eternal destiny of others – aside from the person who needs to be disciplined – may also be at stake.
              1. Discipline or lack of might affect others in danger of similar issues.
              2. Those with unbiblical understandings of the issue or of church membership or the role of leadership will either be further cemented in their understanding or challenged to rethink.
            3. Thirdly, God assures us in passages like Ezekiel 33 that he holds those called to serve as watchmen accountable for their performance, and the elders and minister of a church are called to serve in that capacity today.
            4. More than that, the glory of God is at stake.
  2. 1 Tim 5:1 Context
    1. Letter As A Whole
      1. Timothy Serving As Pastor In Ephesus
      2. Issues That Need Addressing
        1. Salvation By Grace Through Faith
      3. General Principles That Should Be Applied
        1. General Conduct
        2. Leadership Qualifications
        3. How The Church Should Operate
        4. How Timothy Should Act In Pastoring (Chapter 5)
        5. But Not Just Timothy. Principles Apply To All Of Us – To Our Interactions With Those Under Discipline or About To Be or Should Be
  3. The Fact Of Church Discipline Is Taken For Granted
    1. No Command To Do It
    2. Inaction is not an option (because of the consequences)
    3. Focus Purely On Manner
    4. The Aim Of Church Discipline
      1. Restoration vs Alienation (Galatian 6:1 “if someone is caught in a sin … restore him gently”
      2. Justification of God if remain unrepentant. (“Justified when you judge” - Psalm 51, Romans 1 & 3)
  4. Church Discipline Starts Gently
    1. Explain
      1. Word used here based on a word that means striking at someone or something (Rev 8:12)
      2. First instinct in dealing with the fallen and the broken should not be
        1. Clip around ear hole
        2. Jump immediately to excommunication or disowning the person.
      3. But instead
        1. Speak The Truth In Love: Ephesians 4:15, Out Of Maturity (v13)
        2. Paracelew (Work of Spirit)
    2. Illustrated
      1. Paul writing to Corinthians – range and number of problems. Are they Christians? But doesn't speak to them like they're not.
    3. Does not mean you need to be weak or can never use strong language.
      1. General pattern, default approach
      2. Exceptions that prove is a general rule:
        1. Jesus' woes.
        2. Paul rebuking harshly:
          1. Seems did perhaps write a harsh letter to Corinth between 1 Cor & 2 Cor – 2 Cor 2:3-4
          2. Galatians 1:6-9
          3. Galatians 2:11, 14
          4. Handing over to Satan (ch 1)
    4. Illustration
      1. God in Old Testament to Israel
        1. Moses, Joshua, Judges, prophets.
        2. Better part of a thousand years.
        3. Bad to worse. Some high points, but exceptions rather than the rule.
        4. Gracious and kind, slow to anger, abounding in love.
        5. Not to mention fact that still faithful to covenant even when exiled.
    5. Application
      1. How do you treat people who are going / have gone astray? Avoid then? Avoid topic?Give brow beating, rap over knuckles? Encourage?
      2. Done wrong in the past? Admitted? Asked for forgiveness? Sought reconciliation?
  5. Church Discipline Is Family Discipline
    1. General Principle
      1. Might think of description of church as a family in the Scriptures.
        1. Jesus' Teaching – Who are my mother and brothers? (Lk 8:21)
        2. Epistles: Recipients addressed as brothers
        3. Family
          1. Galatians 6:10: As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
          2. Ephesians 3:14 & 15: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
          3. Hebrews 2:11ff: Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
          4. 1 Peter 4:17: 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
      2. Respect For Elders
        1. But not the fact we are the family of God that is being invoked here in 1 Timothy. Notice that Paul says older men should be exhorted as fathers, younger men treated as brothers, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. Focus is not on the relationship but on the influence this relationship would have on the approach in church discipline.
        2. How should family be treated?
          1. Teaching Of The Law
            1. Respect for elders and especially parents.
              1. Exodus 20:12
                1. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
              2. Exodus 21:15, 17:
                1. 15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.
                2. 17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.
            2. “Am I my brother's keeper?”
    2. Specific Applications
      1. One sentence in Greek
        1. → Don't rebuke anyone harshly, but treat as family members.
      2. Our society doesn't encourage respect for those older than us, but that is what is called for here.
      3. Hendricksen: To correct one’s own mother surely requires deep humility, genuine searching of heart, wrestling at the throne of grace, wisdom! It is in that spirit that Timothy must proceed when he feels duty-bound to admonish old(er) women who have erred.
      4. Is that what we do? Do we give due weight to the fact that this older person has been around 10, 30 or even 60 years longer than us? That they've had longer to search the Scriptures and get to know God's will, to make mistakes and learn from them, to benefit from the wisdom of others. Do we check our own heart and mind before opening our mouths, seeking that humility Hendricksen spoke of? Do we search our hearts to see if we're just being proud or presumptuous? Do we seek God's grace for the right words to say and the right attitude with which to say them? Do we seek for wisdom? Do we even begin to do anything like it?
      5. And what about when dealing with those who are our age or younger? Paul leaves no room for being a domineering big brother; for lording it over others, for talking down to people. The humility, searching of heart, wrestling at the throne of grace and wisdom are equally relevant when dealing with younger people.
      6. George Knight III
        1. Comparing what Paul writes here with similar instructions from outside the Scriptures:
        2. The keynote of this passage is the responsibility and authority of a minister of God to give such instruction, albeit to give it with respect, and this makes it different from those accounts in its most central aspect.
      7. If really are thinking of this person who needs correction as a father, a mother, a brother or a sister, will be eager not to put the relationship under any more strain than is necessary. Will desire the good of the other above all else.
  6. Church Discipline Is Done With Wisdom
    1. Brings us to last clause in verse 2.
    2. Absolute Purity
      1. Particular Application To Younger Women
      2. Sexual purity must surely be part of what is in view here
        1. Timothy to conduct self in a way that avoids possibility of false accusation or rumour – that protects those he councils, protects own self and above all else protects honour of Lord.
        2. Today – meet in public / taking wife on a visit.
    3. Specific Application Of A More General Principle
      1. Wisdom – Above Reproach
        1. Recognising risks inherent in a sinful world and doing utmost to minimise them.
        2. Making decisions that work for the welfare of all involved.
        3. Conducting self in a way that reflects godly wisdom, grace and desires.
        4. Involves, like everything else in the life of a true Christian, thought and consideration. Reliance upon Christ for providence and wisdom. Involves seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
  7. Summary
    1. Timothy called to correct people where correction is needed. Not to shy away from task, but to seek by God's grace to do in as godly a manner as possible. That manner begins with the recognition that all Christians are, by God's grace, members of His family, and the call to treat them as members of God's family. Involves due mix of respect, love, humility, seeking God's grace, wisdom and more. And involves remembering the importance of the work – the fact that the consequences of Timothy's actions – and ours – may well go far beyond our time on this earth.
    2. What an awesome task Timothy has! How can he not be paralysed by the sense of responsibility?! We must remind ourselves of how the letter started. Timothy is not called to do this in his own strength and wisdom. He is, like Paul, operating under the command and providence of “God our Saviour and Christ Jesus our hope”. Timothy can and should work hard at obedience, but it is ultimately our glorious Triune God who will choose whether and how to bless our labours. In this knowledge, Timothy, you and I can labour with confidence.