Do those who sympathize with a person under discipline hinder that person

Do those who sympathize with a person under discipline hinder that person’s recovery?

When any individual is put away from an assembly, every other believer in the assembly should respond with sorrow (2 Corinthains 2:5), deep searching of heart (how could such a sin exist "among you"? 1 Corinthians 5:2), and a sincere, prayerful concern for the spiritual recovery of that person (Galatians 6:1), no matter how grievous the sin. A shepherd is energized by divine love and cares for sheep because they belong to the Lord (compare Cain, 1 John 3:12; Genesis 4:9). Whether or not sheep are in the assembly, a shepherd heart cares about their spiritual welfare. Those who care about the disciplined believer will urge him to recognize his sin and submit to God and His dealings with him. Those who will give account to God for the well-being of the sheep (Hebrews 13:17) will do whatever is possible to further God’s dealing in an excommunicated believer. While those shepherds act individually, they must do so in fellowship with their fellow-elders. The unity of the oversight is crucial. The unity of the assembly results from a united oversight.

However, those who side with a disciplined believer in opposition to the judgment of the assembly are acting unwisely, to say the least. They contribute to division in the assembly and are working against God. Rather than helping, they hinder the work God purposes in the disciplined believer.

Is it possible that the believer has been judged wrongly? Yes, it is unlikely, but possible. Who will be able to discern this, a carnal or a spiritual believer? If a believer discerns that the assembly has been unjust in its judgment, and as a result he acts in anger, speaks against the overseers, rallies a faction within the assembly, and absents himself from assembly meetings in protest, he is acting carnally. Carnal acts flow from a carnal mind, which is incapable of righteous judgment in spiritual matters. If a believer senses injustice and reacts with burdened prayer, respectfully expresses his concern to the overseers, and avoids any behavior that will divide the assembly, he has chosen the best possible path to help both the disciplined believer and the entire assembly.

The Lord reserves the strongest of language for one "that soweth discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:19); that person is an abomination to the Lord (v 16). The welfare of a disciplined believer is inseparable from the welfare of the assembly. Whatever help can be given to him will be consistent with lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2, 3).

D. Oliver