foundation truth

lesson 25 - church discipline

In this lesson, we will study the importance of discipline. Without discipline, no natural family would be able to bring the children to maturity. The same is true with the church, the family of God. The first time the Lord refers to the local church, He shows the need and procedure for discipline. Matthew 18:15-20


The word discipline means:

  • Teaching, learning, to disciple.
  • Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or morals.
  • Punishment to inflict pain or penalty.
  • A rule or system of rules which governs conduct or activity.


  • Discipline is basically designed to make order and happiness possible; without it there would be anarchy.
  • Discipline introduces the principle of submission—my will crossing His will.
  • Selfishness and self-will bring destruction and condemnation. Isaiah 14:12-14


  • Discipline unto restoration. Galatians 6:1; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11
  • Discipline unto condemnation. I Corinthians, 11:29-32


  • Greed – envious, covetous – I Corinthians 5:11
  • Idolater – inordinately fond of a person or thing
  • Reviler – abusive language, scornful
  • Drunkard – one who habitually drinks
  • Extortioner – to obtain from a person by oppression, or abuse of authority
  • Fornicator – illicit sexual relationship – I Corinthians 5:1
  • One of disorderly conduct – II Thessalonians 3:6
  • Heretic – II Timothy 2:17-18; Titus 3:9, 11


Matthew 18:15-20

  • Go to your brother alone; a proper attitude must be maintained. Galatians 6:1
  • Take one or two more.
    • Correction is not rejection, but a vital form of acceptance,
    • Reject of the error, but you must accept your brother; you cannot restore if you are not willing to accept.
    • Tell it to the church (leadership). It is the leadership’s responsibility to announce any form of ex-communication.


Without question, the New Testament teaches discipline. Discipleship is impossible without it. It ranges from self-discipline to church discipline—from exhortation to ex-communication. What is implied by the Scriptures teaching the responsibility of the church to discipline its people?

  • It means that I am my brother’s keeper, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
  • It demonstrates that “none of us lives unto himself”! Romans 14:7. Sometimes people will tell you to mind your own business and not meddle in theirs, but the fact is your brother is your business.
  • It plainly says that God is holy and sin is not insignificant. The early church had purity and power. Many churches of today have only quantity and influence.
  • It teaches that sin is contagious. Discipline is not to divide between the good and the bad, but to quarantine contagious sin in order to keep others from “catching it,” for we are all susceptible to sin. It is restorative rather than punitive.
  • It manifests the fact that Christian life is a corporate life. “For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body.” I Corinthians 12:13; “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one membered is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” I Corinthians 12:26. Individualism is the sin of division.
  • It shows spiritual membership existed in the New Testament church, or they could never have been put out of it. Matthew 18:17 People who are mere “members at large” of the mystical, invisible, universal church can never fulfill the pattern found in Scripture. Membership does not refer to “having a card,” but rather to a
    relationship as the hand is a member of the body.
  • It proves the sovereignty of the local church. Disciplined people in Matthew 18:17-18 find in the local church a supreme court on earth—there is no superstructure of ecclesiasticism, district leaders, superintendents, bishops, or popes to which they might appeal. The local church has its Head (Christ) in heaven.

To whom should We Submit?

  • Home – Colossians 3:18-20
  • Church – Hebrews 13:17
  • Government – I Peter 2:13-17

Submission to proper authority protects us from wrong powers.

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About the Author: Dr. Dale Yerton

Dr. Yerton serves as an overseer of a network of churches across the world. What began as a network of six church groups representing 500 churches in Mexico has grown into an international ministry. 

He and Evelyn, his wife over fifty years, live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. They have two daughters: Lora–married to the Rev. Vince Farrell, pastors of Journey Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky–and Kari—also of Hopkinsville–and are the proud grandparents of Emma and Bennett Farrell.

Dale Yerton