Restoring a fallen Christian (Galatians 6:1) deals with what should be done when a Christian commits a known sin. God gives several directions to follow when this happens.
1. A Church Body Is Not To Tolerate Known Sin In Its Midst
The Corinthian Christians tolerated known sin and were strongly rebuked by Paul for it (1 Cor 5:1-2).
The Thessalonian Christians were strongly commanded by Paul to take action against those who openly sinned (2 Thess. 3:6).
2. The Specific Steps Of Church Discipline (Mat. 18:15-17)
Step 1 - Go alone and urge the sinning person to obey Jesus (Mat. 18:15). This is done in the spirit of gentleness and humility (Gal. 6:1). If the person repents of his sin, the matter is settled.
Step 2 - If the person refuses to repent, bring along two or three witnesses and urge the sinning person to obey Jesus (Mat. 18:16).
Step 3 - If the person still refuses to repent, tell the church so they can urge the person to obey Jesus (Mat. 18:17).
Step 4 - If the person still refuses to repent, then turn away from church and social fellowship with him while continuing to urge him to obey Jesus (Mat.18:17).
This means two things:
On the church level, the person is not allowed to attend the services and meetings of the church until he turns from his sin (I Cor. 5:2, 13).
On the personal level, the congregation is to no longer associate with the person socially until he turns from his sin (1 Cor. 5:9; 2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17).
This step does not mean the person can be treated harshly or cruelly, but instead, we are commanded to treat the person with gentleness and mildness (Gal. 6:1) and in a sisterly or brotherly way (2 Thess. 3:15). This also does not mean that the congregation must no longer talk with the person, for we are commanded to continue to urge the person to turn from their sin and obey Jesus (2 Thess. 3:15). What we are commanded to do is draw a line at everyday social conversation with the person, which would include sharing a meal with them (1 Cor. 5:9; 2 Thess. 3:14).
3. The Seriousness Of Church Discipline
Paul wrote the Thessalonian Christians and commanded them to confront the disobedient members "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." This was the most authoritative way the Apostle Paul could give a command to anyone.
4. The Purpose Of Church Disciple
To lead the sinning person to repentance (2 Cor. 2:6-8)
Taking action so they will be ashamed (2 Thess. 3:14)
Taking action so they will fear continuing to sin (1 Tim. 5:20)
To keep sin from spreading in the church
Taking action generates a fear to sin (1 Tim. 5:20)
Taking action through the fourth step removes their bad influence (1 Cor. 5:6)
5. The Attitude Of Church Discipline
The sinning person is not to be treated as an enemy, but in a brotherly or sisterly way (2 Thess. 3:15).
There is never to be an attitude of superiority, but rather the realization that anyone can give in to temptation (Gal. 6:1).
6. Specific Sins Mentioned For Church Discipline
Incest (1 Cor. 5:2), immorality (1 Cor. 5:11), covetousness (1 Cor. 5:11), idolatry (1 Cor. 5:11), abusive speaking (1 Cor. 5:11), drunkenness (1 Cor. 5:11), swindling (1 Cor. 5:11), refusal to obey Scripture (2 Thess. 3:6, 14), refusal to work (2 Thess. 3:11), blasphemy (1 Tim. 1:20), divisiveness (Titus 3:10).
We learn from the above information that God strongly commands churches to act when they learn of a member committing sin. The degree of action taken hinges entirely upon the person's willingness to repent, and ranges from private admonishment to the public removal of fellowship. Their repeated refusal to repent forces them farther and farther away from the companionship of the church congregation, until they are entirely outside it. All through this process, the congregation is to carefully watch its attitude. There must never be an air of superiority, but only brotherly concern for the sinning Christian's welfare. The focus of everything is to be upon rescuing the sinning Christian from his sin and restoring him to obeying Jesus Christ.