RESTORE OR REBUKE?
The Bible gives clear instructions as to when to restore (Galatians 6:1) and when to rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20). It even gives instructions as to church discipline and expulsion (1 Cor. 5), a biblical practice that is becoming unheard of today as churches become more carnal, worldly, and ungodly.
Nobody is perfect. We all err. 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” For these reasons, the minister must be equipped and prepared to deal with all kinds of situations that will inevitably arise in the church.
He must have discernment to know when it is time to restore and when it is time to rebuke. Unfortunately, not all have this discernment.
When a Christian falls but later repents, he should be restored. The repentant should be received with an abundance of love, forgiveness, and rejoicing. One of the best examples of this is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
However, when one falls, and continues to sin and rebel, leaves his church because he disagrees with his pastor’s instructions, commences a campaign to oppose everyone who disagrees with his personal agenda to recuperate everything he lost due to the consequences of his sins, at the expense of others, and in defiance against those who have counseled him to concentrate rather in his relationship with the Lord and his family and those he hurt by his sins, such a one is in need of rebuke, not restoration.
Restoration is for those who like the prodigal son of Luke 15 are tired of his sins, not those who continue in more sin. Restoration is for those who return to the father with no other desire other than to serve while not expecting anything in return. That’s true humility.
A tree is known by its fruit. John the Baptist said to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. The fruit of true repentance is not more rebellion, contention, pride, defiance, sowing discord, seeking supporters for a personal agenda, etc. Not all “repentance” is sincere. Even Pharoah, Saul, and Judas Iscariot said “I have sinned”. But their actions afterwards manifested a lack of true repentance. Sincere repentance will be proven by good fruit of humility and obedience.
The old time preachers used to say that “our very repentance needs to be repented of”. It is a shame when preachers lack the spiritual discernment to identify when someone’s repentance is sincere or just a strategic maneuver to gain sympathizers and supporters of a personal agenda and frustrated ambitions. Trying to restore a rebel at heart is the WRONG course of action. The man of God must discern when it is time to restore and when it is time to rebuke. A good doctor will recognize which medicine to prescribe for each situation. Unfortunately, some preachers are physicians of no value (Job 13:4).
Those who try to restore someone who continues to do wrong and is therefore not ready for restoration are not spiritual but rather compromisers and ENABLERS of continued sinfulness and grief. They can cry “love” and “forgiveness” all they want to convince themselves that their compromise is right, but they will give account to God for the further damage against the Church of Jesus Christ that they enabled through their lack of discernment and dereliction of duty.
Ecclesiastes 8:11 “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”
Proverbs 27:5-6 “Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”