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Matthew 18:15-20

Whatever It Takes

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 17, 2019

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Whatever It Takes

Matthew 18:15-20            

Illus. Starting over.

We all face situations when we need to hit reset, start over, or turn around because the ground we are walking on is dangerous ground. In that place and on that ground, the heart of the Lord is that we would not be lost, but found, turning to Him rather than going astray. There are times, seasons, and situations where that is evident in our lives and in order to be the people He calls us to be, we have to again be pointed in the way. This morning we are going to look at the opportunity that we have to encourage those we love to stay in the way Jesus would have them go, doing whatever it takes to ensure their life is found on solid ground. 

Read: Matthew 18:15-20

Leading up to this Jesus had just given instruction regarding stumbling blocks, those who cause others to stumble, to lead them down the wrong path, the dangers of that in the world, and in our lives personally. Though the wrong path may be a place one of His children begins to go, in verse 11, we see Jesus’ heart, which is important for all to know, that He had come “to save that which was lost.”

To illustrate His love and attention to those that have gone astray or turned away, Jesus tells a powerful story of a shepherd, who had one hundred sheep, and when one left, the shepherd leaves the other 99 to go, search, and find the one who had departed from His care.

The Shepherd was a representation of Jesus, who was willing to go, to search for the one who had gone away. Upon finding that one, He rejoiced over it because that sheep was on dangerous ground. The story points us to the purpose of Jesus and why He came, to save and restore, that which was lost, doing whatever it takes, going to any length. He does that in your life and mine as well.  

            The question that remains for the Jesus follower however, is how are we to handle those who bring stumbling blocks into our lives? Jesus said it was inevitable that stumbling blocks would come. In our lives personally, they are to be cut out, but what about people who cause us to stumble? Those who sin against us, attempt to cause us to fall, offend, entrap, entice, or influence to sin? Where do I begin and how do I know which way to go when I am the one being offended?

  1. Proceed According to His Plan

Matthew 18:15, If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

  • Jesus says, “if your brother sins,” other translations say, “if your brother sins against you.”
  • “Brother” here, refers to any fellow believer in Jesus. And Jesus gives steps toward restoration, in an attempt turn the one who is going astray, has turned away, offended you, caused you to fall, or stumbled you, back to Jesus.
  • And if that fellow believer sins against you, go to them with a heart of restoration.
  • In other words, if someone has offended you, you have a responsibility to address the issue, but the goal in addressing it, is for reconciliation, not competition, or condemnation.
  • Jesus says show them their error, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
  • If they hear you, you have won that person in two ways: 1. The problem has been resolved, and 2. You have not wronged them, or tarnished your own credibility in the process by going to others with gossip.
  • The right heart toward that person is to bring about a turn to the Lord. This means when addressing the issue, we too need to start by turning to the Lord first and then going to the person privately.

Proverbs 11:13, He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

  • With gossip itself being a sin (Romans 1:29-32) it is important that if you point out a problem or issue in another, that you are personally walking it out righteously.
  • In the midst of an offense the closest way to get to the Lord, is to go to the person.

Matthew 18:16, But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

  • So, we begin by going personally and privately, and they disagree and are unwilling to listen to you regarding the matter. It is then that you find one, or two more who are mature to help resolve the situation.
  • Again, going about it with a heart of resolution and restoration. That is the goal rather than bringing others along to prove one’s self right.
  • So, you bring one or two more who are mature, this allows an opportunity for the truth to be established on both sides of the issue.

Deuteronomy 19:15, A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

Proverbs 18:17, The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.

  • Establishing truth is critical, because there are times when you might not be seeing the right way.
  • Those who are brought along, are those who also have the heart of Jesus toward the one who has gone astray. Perhaps if the person was not willing to hear you, they would hear another.

Matthew 18:17, If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

  • If the person will not listen to those who are mature in Christ and have listened and confirmed the facts, then it is brought to the church.
  • When Jesus says “tell it to the church” this does not mean it is time to blast this person and condemn them publicly.
  • The primary application of this Scripture in our church is that the matter would be brought to the church leadership, who have been given a God-given authority and represent the whole.
  • When a situation is brought to the elders and pastors, the heart again is to find resolve and reconcile the believer according to the Word of God.
  • If that person is still unwilling to turn away from the sin that separates and toward the Lord; Jesus said let them be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
  • These are the titles used for those you are consciously rebellious against God and His people.
  • The picture is of a person who is hard-hearted, unwilling to heed God’s Word, the leadership He has put in place and it is in certain situations that this person may even be removed from the covering and blessing of the church.

Illus. Taking a stand.

A. Speak the truth in love

Ephesians 4:15, Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

Galatians 6:1, Even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.

  • Paul here says, if you are spiritual…When someone fails, don’t rejoice – seek to restore.
  • The hope is that they would turn to Jesus, not that all would see their weakness.

Illus. Restore in Love.

1 Peter 4:8, Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

  • Love isn’t the pursuit of “getting them”… It isn’t jumping at the chance to reveal, and call the attention of all to a personal fall.
  • Love walks in backwards. Looking to cover, and restore.
  • The purpose must remain restoration and reconciliation. To show that person how far they have gone, the reality of their situation.

B. Be willing to show and grow

  • While all people in the church are “sinners saved by grace,” and no church will ever be free of members who struggle with sin in their lives, the person here has a major blind spot to sin, and it is apparent and offensive.
  • Not only it is apparent, the person is transparent in their refusal to listen to those God sends to help turn them back to Him.

Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

  • There will likely be times where we have to be willing to go to others personally.
  • Other times, you might find that someone comes you, to show an error in your way.

Proverbs 27:6, Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Illus. Willing to repair it. 

Illus. Signal that something is wrong.

  • If someone comes to you with a concern, don’t immediately turn them away, but hear them and turn toward the Lord in order to find what needs to be fixed.

Psalm 139:24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

  • Whether in our lives personally, or in working it out with another, the process must be centered on agreeing with the Lord about what is going on, and allow our fellow believer the opportunity to come to that same conclusion.
  • C. Turn to Jesus together

Matthew 18:18, Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

  • The church’s decisions are God guided and based on the discernment of His Word.

Matthew 18:19-20

  • There is power when we agree together regarding the purpose of the Lord in lives and turn to Jesus together in prayer.
  • Jesus speaks to His agreement with us, when we agree with heaven. And specifically, the promises in context are associated with the church rendering a decision surrounding a person who is set on continuing in sin.
  • The principle, however, goes beyond the matter of church discipline, showing us the power of prayer together, and the promised presence of Jesus in our midst when we gather in Jesus’ name.
  • He is Immanuel, God with us (Mt. 1:24), and we know that His presence goes on until the end of the ages (Mt. 28:20).
  • Jesus says “if two of you agree on earth” the word “agree” in Greek is symphoneo, which means literally to “symphonize.” When we come together, like a symphony, He hears us. It is pleasing to Him.
  • In a symphony, not all people play the same instrument, or part, but, they are all coming together under the conductor.
  • Jesus knows the power of those who are tethered together, walking in His will…So important to Him, that He prayed we would be “One”…

John 17:20-21, I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one…

Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!




Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”


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