Why Jesus said, “Treat Them As You Would a Pagan or Tax Collector!”

“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17 NIV)

So much for Jesus not talking about sin–as least that’s the mantra that some are using to justify their continual sin. “Jesus just said to love and judge not.” By the time I finish with the “whys” Jesus said something, hopefully those who are characteristically unbelievers, will have a better understanding of what Jesus said and why.

As with all other Scriptures–this pertains to those in the Body of Believers. Perhaps that should have been made clear in the beginning–The Bible is addressed to Believers, not the unbelieving who won’t believe it anyway. This is God’s way of keeping those who claim to belong to Him, on the right track.

Therefore, the passages that follow are meant for those who Believe–that’s who Jesus was talking to–not the unbelieving.

Matthew 18:15–If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

Matthew 18:16–But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

And then we get to our scripture reference for today in verse 17. Jesus is telling His followers that if they know a brother or sister in the church who has fallen to temptation and sinned, in order to expose the darkness to the light, they should let them know, they are in sin and should repent. If the person in sin refuses to listen to the first person, who’s trying to keep the matter private, they should bring two or three more people to talk to them in hopes of convincing them to cease living in sin. If they refuse to talk to the “delegation” if you will, then the matter should be brought before the entire church and if after being admonished by the church, they still refuse to listen, then they (the sinner) should be treated like a pagan or tax collector, no longer considered a brother or sister in The Lord.

Sounds a bit harsh? Sound like “love” to you? It is harsh, and it is love because where there is love, there is also correction, and rebuke as well as compassion and mercy.

Most Believers understand this and abide by it–at least in some churches or rather denominations. The church Jesus references is the entire Body of Believers–not just one denomination. But for many, the church is simply a building to which some go on a regular basis, pretty much like those who frequently patronize the local bar, or strip-club–the benefit of going to either is about the same–there is none; especially for church-goers (those just going to the building) who don’t know God.

If a person doesn’t know God, doesn’t know or understand God’s Word, then why are they wasting their time going to a building? God is not fooled. And they will understand they received no benefit when they stand before Him and they hear Him say, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you,” (Luke 13:27 paraphrased)

As anyone can see, Jesus didn’t sugarcoat truth when He spoke it and anyone who thinks we should sugarcoat truth, doesn’t know Jesus and they really should get into The Word, know what He said and the conditions under which He said it. Perhaps then, at least all the Believers will be on the same page. 

More of what Jesus said and why, next time!

How Can They?

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14,15 NLT)

Paul reminds us in his letter to the church in Rome that, “all who call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved” and he anticipates the doubters response by answering their questions before they are asked.

Those same doubts–unbelief in Jesus Christ and in Him as the Risen Savior–still plague The Church (the body corporate) and it is evident in the things we see people–proclaiming to be Christians–do.

The real problem is that then–the descendants of the tribe expected a “warrior” to save them because that’s what they understood. They could not believe–for the most part–that a man preaching, trying to get them to repent of sin and live for God–could save anyone. When they witnessed His crucifixion, they mocked Him about saving Himself. The answer was right in front of them, but they could not see it because their minds were clouded and focused on expectations based upon their limited understanding of how God truly works. They missed knowing the relationship that God so deeply desired with them and there are those today, who still miss it.

How can they still miss the importance of being in right-relationship with God? When people think that “religion or religious affiliation” is the answer to their problems, they miss God. The answer is still right in front of us–we must repent of sin and secure our “relationship” with God. It is our relationship with Him that will draw us nearer to Him so we can clearly understand how He wants us to live.

How can we move closer to Him? WE MUST REPENT OF SIN–AS A NATION–AND AS INDIVIDUALS and learn of Him, receiving instruction and direction from Holy Spirit as He speaks to us. There is no other way that mankind is going to be saved from destruction and captivity–devised in our own minds–when we choose to ignore God and the messengers He uses to warn us!

What messengers should we heed? The messengers of God will only say what God says, they will not speak on their own behalf. God is not doing a new thing pertaining to visions and dreams–He still uses them to persuade people to hear Him, but those visions and dreams are not going to oppose His Word–no matter how much people want to change what He has said. God will use whoever is willing to be used by Him–accepting His sovereignty and love–knowing it is He who is leading them in all things.

How wonderful it is for people of faith to be used by God in promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ! These are those who are sent–not the ones who just got up and went based upon their own logic and rationale of what they “think” needs to happen. Those who just go–on their own–have a modicum of truth to share, but ruin it with their own take on how things should be and much of what they say is in opposition to what God has already said. We won’t know that if we do not know The Word and have such a close relationship with God that we can seek Him for ourselves for clarity and understanding.

What we need more than anything on earth right now–is the enough sense to know we all need to repent and receive God’s forgiveness so we can move forward, taking care of God’s business, while He takes care of ours.

Father, I cannot repent for others, but I stand before You right now, repenting of all those things that are not like You. Forgive me for daring to think I could do anything on my own without You in my life. I submit my thoughts to You, I declare my faith in everything You have said and will say to me to share with others so that all of mankind will be saved, in the name of Jesus! I will do all You prompt me to do, no matter what people say, for I  know that my eternity will be spent with You! And I pray that all who proclaim the name of Jesus will repent–individually, and as a nation and seek You while You may yet be found. In Jesus’ name, I pray, and receive Your response, Amen!