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MR No. 720 -  Discipline of SDA Church Members
Church Difficulties.--Those who had a ruling influence in the church [at Ligonier, Indiana] were not right in heart themselves, notwithstanding they made high profession of faith. The outside was apparently right, as far as belief and profession were concerned, while the inward work of the heart -- the grace of God in the life developing characters -- was very much at fault. They had not the Spirit of Christ, and they labored with another spirit exhibiting self. Strong feelings would rise up under contradiction, or, if others differed with them in both their ideas or opinions, their own hearts being controlled by selfishness, they sought to exalt themselves, and censure and judge their brethren -- a work God had not given them at all.  {9MR 193.1}
They had left the anxious work of taking care, lest they should fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up, whereby many should be defiled. They turned their eyes outward to watch, lest others' characters should not be right, when their eyes should have been turned inward to close searching of their own motives, scanning and criticizing their own characters, their own feelings; and emptying from the heart love of self, envy, evil surmisings, jealousy, malice, unkindness, and self-esteem.  {9MR 193.2}
When they do this, they will esteem others better than themselves, and will not be climbing upon the judgment seat to pronounce sentence upon others. This has caused all the difficulties in the church. Young churches may have leaders in elders and deacons chosen to have a burden and care for the prosperity of the church, yet these men should not feel at liberty in their own judgment and responsibility to cut off names from the church. They should not have so much zeal as to make decisive moves of so grave a character.  {9MR 193.3}
They should communicate with the one who has been appointed as president of their conference, and confer with him. At some appointed time have the matter particularly considered, and with great wisdom and in the fear of God, with much humility and earnest humble prayer, should erring ones be dealt with.  {9MR 194.1}
The matter should be thoroughly investigated. What is the charge brought against the erring one? Has he willfully transgressed the law of God? Has the offender been dishonest in his deal or trade with his brethren or the world? Has he been untruthful? Has he practiced deception? Has he been licentious? Has he been severe, overbearing, and abusive in his family, with his neighbors, with his brethren, or worldlings? Has he shown a spirit of penuriousness, selfishness, covetousness; of questioning doubts, of faultfinding, of talebearing, of talking of his brethren's faults, magnifying their wrongs, having a spirit of bitterness against them? All these things are grave matters, and deserving of consideration.  {9MR 194.2}
But the next question is: What course has been pursued toward the erring? Have the Bible rules been followed to the letter? Read before them the rules given by their Captain. Have they obeyed orders like faithful soldiers in the army? To go contrary to the positive orders of the Captain of our salvation is deserving of severest censure.  {9MR 194.3}
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:15-18).  {9MR 194.4}
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