“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall its charge be established.”
So this picture in Deuteronomy is describing how God is calling his people to carry out justice. And specifically here, to ensure that sufficient witnesses are brought forward to establish a charge. Now, we could talk more about this context in Deuteronomy chapter 19. But the reason I want to read verse 15 here specifically, and lead us to prayer according to it, is because of the foundation this lays for something Jesus later teaches in Matthew chapter 18, verses 15 through 20 there, when he talks about church discipline and accountability. And he talks about how, when a brother sins against you, or we could use the same picture from Galatians chapter 6, when a brother is caught in sin, or a sister is caught in sin, or a sister sins against you. Then Jesus says, go to that person. Just between you and that person, and talk about this and seek reconciliation. Ultimately, seek reconciliation between them and God. You want to call them away from sin and certainly seek any reconciliation that’s needed with them, between you and that person.
God, we ask you to help us to walk in obedience and vulnerability today.
But if that person, Jesus says, refuses to listen to you, what does he say? He says, Matthew chapter 18, verse 16. “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
And as soon as I say that, you realize what Jesus is saying there in Matthew chapter 18, verse 16, is based completely on what we just read in God’s law in Deuteronomy chapter 19, verse 15. And then she just goes on to say, if this person will not even listen to two or three witnesses, then tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then let him be to use a Gentile or a tax collector, basically, is someone who is outside the church.
Now there’s a ton more we could talk about in Matthew 18 there. But based on Deuteronomy 19 and Matthew chapter 18, I would encourage all of us to think today, is there a brother or sister who has sinned against, or who is caught in sin, that God is calling us to help turn from sin? We all need this in our lives. Every single one of us needs people to love us enough to come to us when they see us caught in sin, or giving in to sin. And to love us enough to come to us, not to talk about us or around us, but to come to us when we have sinned against them.
And so Matthew chapter 18, verse 15 through 20, this picture of biblical accountability and discipline. We talk about, the church I pastor is one of the biblical traits of a church, one of the marks of a church. It’s interesting, Matthew chapter 18. This is one of only a couple of times Jesus even mentions the word church in the gospels. And it’s in association with doing this hard work of confronting one another in sin and calling one another by God’s grace to turn away from sin. Doing this individually. And then doing this in small groups. Like we see patterned after Deuteronomy chapter 19, and then doing this together as a church.
So let’s pray accordingly. God, we pray that you would help us for us to faithfully guard one another from sin, to lovingly, compassionately, humbly go to one another when there’s sin in our lives, and to call one another away from it. God, we pray for quick reconciliation to you, and for quick reconciliation to one another. God, we pray that you would give us all humility to hear from others when they come to us and talk about sin that they see in our lives. And God, where we may be mistaken seeing sin in someone else’s life, help us with others to discern what is actually sin, what is not, what is honoring to you, what may not be honoring to you. God, we pray that you would help us to do this hard work of Matthew chapter 18, verses 15 through 20, to hold one another accountable to pursuing you with all of our hearts and souls and mind and strength.
And we pray this, even using the word discipline, as we have, praising you for your discipline of us. We praise you that you don’t leave us alone in our sin, that you come to us, that you call us out of sin, that you continually call us back to yourself. God, we pray that when we sin we would be quick to repent, when we are confronted with sin in our lives, when our eyes are open to it, we pray that we would be humble to receive your correction and quick to turn from it. God, we praise you for the consistency of your word, how Deuteronomy 19, Matthew chapter 18, how all of your word fits together. And we pray that you’d help us to live according to it today. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.