Home > Christianity and the Culture, kingdom of God > How to Handle Beef Between Believers in the Body

How to Handle Beef Between Believers in the Body


This is a controversial topic in most church circles.  How do you deal with Christians who sin against themselves, God, or other Christians?  Because sin ultimately has an effect on one’s relationship with God and the community of believers, we need a way in which to handle things appropriately.  With clarity, Jesus lays out a process in Matthew 18:15-20.  Here is the process:

Take it to the person privately

When someone does something offensive to you or sins against you, the Word instructs you to go to that person privately and deal with it.  If they repent then you have gained your brother again!  Oftentimes, instead of taking it to the person privately, we either make a show of it publicly or we gossip about it to other people.  Or worse yet, we don’t say anything!  This is in line with what Satan and your flesh would have you do.  Don’t blast them in public.  Don’t blast them on Facebook.  Don’t blast them on twitter.  Do go to the person in private with the issue.

Find two or three witnesses

If the person does not respond with repentance to the offense or the matter is not resolved, then 2 or 3 witnesses ought to be brought in to hear the matter.  They may be able to help resolve the situation or they may just act as witnesses to the offense that happened, so that you have credibility if you have to take the matter public.

Tell it to the church

In a church that handles the discipline of its members this could be powerful.  In first-century churches, the church knew about and handled unrepentant sinners publicly.  Most churches today do not have a working model for church discipline.  If your church does not have this type of process, then take it to your church leaders and see if they would be willing to help you to settle the dispute according to Matthew 18.

Treat them as one who is not a believer

The goal of this process is for the one who has sinned against you to repent from their sin and trust in Jesus while keeping the unity of the community of believers intact.  If they repent, you bring them back in to your church, ministry, or community of friends.  If they have continuously refused to repent from sin, then it is evidence that they may not be a believer anyway, so the bible declares that we ought to treat them as an unbeliever, hoping that by good or bad means they will come to repent for their actions. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul talks about expelling a brother from fellowship with other believers who was having sex with his step-mother in order that his sinful nature might be destroyed.  Paul hoped that one day the step-mother lover would come to Jesus and be restored into fellowship with other believers.

Using God’s method of discipline brings honor to God and also provides a healthy way of dealing with sinful disputes between believers.  If you feel wronged by somebody, try handling it God’s way today!

What about “binding and loosing” in verses 18-20? I’ll put that in another post.

  1. September 2, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Good one, GWU

    When in doubt, do it the Bible way.

    I want to ask your opinion (or if there’s a bible response to it thats good).

    On my blog Ive been accused of the “blast” effect. While that is sensationalist as far as Im concerned, if people intentionally shield themselves from discussing or hearing any criticism from a fellow believer, what would you do?

    For instance, if I was teaching that Jesus rose on the 2nd day not the 3rd day and you wanted to deal with that with me, but I make sure that you have to go through professional pr people, layers of assistants et al. Unless you did a Nathan and got me in a face to face, there is no way for us to engage in step #1.

    Do you just keep silent or do you warn others of this error-laden teaching.
    Just using this as an example. I agree 100% that if it is a personal matter, you cant deviate from the steps Christ laid out.

  2. September 4, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I think those rules are for people in the body, dealing with a personal matter. This is how people in the church ought to operate. However, I think people who are teaching untruth should be dealt with differently. The bible tells us that one of the ways which the enemy creeps in is through false teaching and heresies and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Over and over again, in the letters Paul tells us to shoot wolves and love sheep. Wolves are people who teach false doctrine and try to lead people into heresy. I respect the work that you do, it is not easy, but somebody has to do with it. References: Matthew 7:15, 16, 2 Timothy 4:3,4, Acts 20:29-31, Matthew 15:9, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 3:16, 17, Galatians 1:9.

  3. September 5, 2009 at 9:13 am

    thanks this is a sound response. I think the problem is that too many people want to treat wolves as part of the family without realizing their nature is to destroy. Thus, they get offended based on this misconception.

    I pray that all legitimate brothers and sisters do follow the Lords way. That ensures that we stay together.

    Many blessings to you and this work.

    • September 5, 2009 at 12:39 pm

      Right! Unity is the goal. We keep that by loving each other and caring for one another. We also do that by keeping out divisive heresy and doctrines that will hurt the sheep and those who would like to follow the Shepherd.

  4. September 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    @ gcmwatch. There is an interesting sermon that you might be interested in : http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/conferences/christ-controversy-and-cutting-words

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