Matt 18:15-17 “If your brother sins [against you], go~~ and show him his fault*~ when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. But if he does not listen, take*~ one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell *~ it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat~~ him like a Gentile or a tax collector.”
The church is a mutual ministry that includes exhorting, admonishing, encouraging, instructing, loving, edifying, caring, submitting to, loving, and confessing faults or sins to one another. We need to be open to exhortation by fellow believers.
The excuse for tolerance of sin and false teaching can come from a faulty application of Jesus’s statement to “judge not lest you be judged” (Matt 7:1). If we have a false sense of humility, we feel uncomfortable holding others accountable—but we are commanded to do so.
If a “brother sins”—that is, disobeys the commands in Scripture—he or she needs to be confronted directly and privately in a spirit of humility by another believer. The objective is to help restore the offender (Gal 6:1–4). Sin means “missing the mark,” or failing to obey God’s commands, and it is an offense against God Himself and His reputation. A brother should confront the disobedient believer as soon as possible.
The word for show him his fault means to “bring to light or expose.” The disobedient person may not be aware of the command that he has transgressed. If done privately, in a spirit of love and confidence, a change of heart is more likely, and an even more intimate bond of brotherhood can result.
So that there is no misunderstanding, if the person rebels or refuses to obey, then the one confronting is to return with one or two witnesses, each in the spirit of humility. Should the disobedient believer continue to rebel against the word, then—and only then—should the sinful behavior go public to the church body: “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning” (1 Tim 5:19–20).
After this third attempt to encourage obedience, then the congregation is told to “take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. Do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thes 3:14–15). This is “tough love.”
“Lord Jesus, because Your Holy Spirit lives in me, I know He will guide me as I seek to use Your word to help others follow You. Fill me with Your love and humility to allow Your Spirit to work in me to help correct a fellow believer who may be sinning against You and other people.”