The Cancer We Can't Ignore

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” —Matthew 18:18-20, NIV.

This is one of the most abused verses in Scripture. It is also one of those verses that we neglect to use to its best advantage. We work hard at applying it to things like granny’s ingrown toenail, but hardly ever claim it for the restoration of those trapped by sin—which is its original intent.

The context is Matthew 18:15-20 and has to do with discipline. Here’s the whole package:

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Most of the time we never even get to the first step in the protocol for restoring a sinner. We never deal with issues, preferring to ignore them and hope they go away, or harbour the hurts until they fester like gangrene in our souls, or find ways to punish the perpetrators on our own terms. Restore them? Forgive them? Help them to grow spiritually? Not often.

The damning thing about our refusal to obey the procedures that Jesus set down here is the power of God that isn’t released because of our disobedience. If we were to follow the instructions as they as laid out here, the Lord promises that heaven will respond favourably to our request to forgive and restore that sinner. Satan and sin will be bound and a life will be freed to be lived out as God intended it to be lived.

But we prefer to avoid clearing up misunderstandings, to ignore sin, to not confront or to discipline. We spend more time praying for those things that keep people tied to the earth than for those things that attach them to heaven. We ignore the cancer cells in the spiritual body and wonder why the church is so sick. To ignore spiritual sickness is as illogical as saying: “I’ll just ignore these cancer cells. I don’t want to deal with the pain it might cause me to do something about them.”

The greater pain comes from pretending those cancer cells don’t exist—they will kill you anyway.

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