Question: If a member of the church appears to be in error or sin, how may the matter be rectified?
Answer: The Lord gives His people instructions as to how to deal with such situations in Matthew 18: 15-17: “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
According to this Scripture, the supposed wrong should be pointed out to the erring one only by the one he has injured, or by the member first discovering the wrong. If the reproved one fails to clear himself, and continues in the error or sin, then two or three brethren without previous prejudice should be asked to hear the matter and advise the disputants. If this committee decide unanimously with either party, the other should acquiesce and the matter be wholly at an end – correction, or restitution, so far as possible, being promptly made. If either of the original disputants still persist in the wrong course, the one who made the original charge or one of those called in committee or, preferably, all of these together, may then exercise their privilege of bringing the matter before the church.
The two preliminary steps having been taken and the facts being certified to the elders, their duty would be to call a general meeting of the church as a court, to hear the case, and in the name and reverence of the Lord to render a decision. The matter should be so clear that the decision would be a unanimous one, or nearly so. Repentance up to the moment of the church’s condemnation is possible, in fact, to secure repentance and reform is the very object of every step of these proceedings. If the transgressor refuse to obey the decision of the church, the church is to withdraw from him its fellowship.