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Matthew 18:15-35


  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 5, 2019

Wouldn’t life be great if we never had to deal with conflicts? Unfortunately, on this side of heaven there will be conflicts that need to be resolved and offenses that must be forgiven. In Matthew 18, we will learn from Jesus how to deal with both, resolve conflicts and forgive offenses.

  • Sermon Notes


Matthew 18:15-35


ILLUS – That’s one!

1.Wouldn’t life be great if we never had to deal with conflicts?

2.Unfortunately, on this side of heaven there will be conflicts that need to be resolved and offenses that must be forgiven.

3.Tonight, we will learn from Jesus how to deal with both, resolve conflicts and forgive offenses.

Matthew 18:15-35


1.Though tonight’s study begins with verse 15, it’s important to note that this section is a continuation of what Jesus taught beginning in verse one when the disciples asked Him, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2.They expected Jesus to point to one of them and declare they were the greatest. Evidently, it was a topic they had debated frequently according to the other Gospels.

3.To their shock, Jesus called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (2-4)

4.Jesus did not correct them for wanting to be great. Rather, He wanted them to be great the right way; by letting go of the world’s definition of greatness and rejecting the world’s way for achieving greatness.

5.Jesus wanted them, and us by application, to be great in God’s eyes. What is greatness God’s way?

a.To value people as God does.

b.To follow Christ’s example and serve others.

c.To seek the lost and seize opportunities to edify those around us.

6.Jesus then shifted to relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ; “family matters”.

7.Now, if Christians were perfect once they were born-again, then we would not need instructions from Jesus.  

8.But we fail and sin, so we need know how to keep the church family holy and united.

I.  Seek to Restore Your Brother in Christ (15-20)

  • Again, the context is helpful here for in verse 11, Jesus declared that “the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
  • Jesus illustrated His point when He talked about a shepherd who left the 99 sheep to go and find the one sheep that was lost.
  • Once the shepherd found his lost sheep, he rejoiced over it more than the other 99 who had not strayed.
  • The main point is that God values people and He wants us to value even those who have gone astray.
  • God wants the church to be a place where people are restored, even those from our own church family who have sinned against us or have offended us.
  • Jesus gave a clear pattern for restoration in verses 15-20.

A. Win your brother, not the argument

1.When a brother or sister in Christ sins, the goal is to win them over. (15)

2.In other words, if someone has sinned against you or offended you, then you have the responsibility to address the issue.

a.If you let the matter go, you are not helping your brother.

b.If you let the matter go, you are not giving God room to bring reconciliation.

3.But when you “address” the sin, winning over of your brother or sister must be the goal; not proving you are right and they are wrong.

4.If you give the other person the chance to own their mistake and might it right, you have opened the door for healing and restoration.

5.It’s here that you affirm your heart for them, that you value them, and desire restoration. This is great in God’s eyes!

2 Timothy 2:24-26, The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

6.The best context for winning over your brother or sister is in private which means you go to them first and you do not include others.

7.Going to others first opens the door for more sin, such as gossip, and more division. It plays right into the devil’s hands.

Proverbs 11:13, He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

APPL – This requires a spirit of meekness and gentleness.

Galatians 6:1, Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

The word “restore” is a medical term which means “to set a broken bone.”  

We must not go about condemning the offender or spreading gossip about them. 

We must lovingly seek to help in the same way we would want to be treated if the tables were reversed.

B.Speak the truth in Christ’s love

1.Jesus then gave the next step in the event the other person does not want to be reconciled; “take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” (16)

2.In other words, if the other person refuses to acknowledge their fault in the matter, then find one or two Christians to help win the other person over.

3.The principle for bringing witnesses with you is found in Deuteronomy 19:15…

Deuteronomy 19:15, A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

APPL – Before you confront the other person with witnesses:

  • Prayerfully consider who you should ask to share your side of the story with.
  • Make sure they are mature in Christ, not gossips, so that they will not make matters worse.
  • Share your side of the story and ask them to honestly let you know if there is something you could have done better or need to take responsibility for.
  • If they agree that you should go to the other person, prayerfully and humbly arrange a meeting, letting the other person know that you will be bringing others with you.
  • Remember, the purpose is to restore because of the value that God places on the other person.
  • But the meeting also provides an opportunity for the truth to be established for both sides.

Proverbs 18:17, The first to plead his case seems right,
until another comes and examines him.

  • Establishing the truth is important because you might be looking at the situation the wrong way, or maybe the right way, but others who are godly and mature will be able to help with establishing the truth in love.

Ephesians 4:15, … but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ

ILLUS – When I have been asked to help resolve a conflict, I will always state upfront that I want Christ to win.

C.Take it to the church if previous attempts fail

1.Jesus continued and said, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (17)

2.When Jesus said, “tell it to the church” He was not talking about throwing the other person under the bus to condemn them in the court of public opinion.

3.The problem with the court of public opinion is that unless they have all the information, they cannot make very good judges. Instead of resolving the matter, they make matters worse.

4.The idea and application of this principle is that there is an authority given to elders and pastors so that they may use that authority to resolve and reconcile believers according to the Word of God.

5.But if that last step does not work, then Jesus said, “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (17)

a.The response of the other person reveals that they are hard-hearted and not submitted to God’s Word.

b.Therefore, they need to be removed from the covering and blessing of the church.

c.In fact, the next verses confirm this. When we stand on the principles of God’s Word and apply them with gentleness and humility, heaven stands behind such a decision. (18-20) Unfortunately, some people will not be reconciled.

Romans 12:17-18, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

d.But even here, the purpose is restoration and reconciliation.

ILLUS – Confronting a brother about his relationship with a married woman…

1 Corinthians 5:5, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 2:6-8, Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

II. Forgive from the Heart (21-35)

  • The second “family matter” provides instruction for when a “brother” has sinned against us more than once. How many times do we need to forgive them?
  • Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” (21)
  • It seems that Peter was trying to seize on Jesus’ definition of greatness in order to show how great he was by how much he forgave others.
  • The rabbis of that day taught the “three strikes and you’re out” rule, meaning a person only had to forgive their brother three times.

A.Forgiveness is a choice

1.Jesus said that seven times misses the mark.

2.Peter, and us as well, must forgive 70x7!

ILLUS – The “Forgiveness” smart phone app!

3.The point is that you do not want to keep track. Unforgiveness is a choice and so is forgiveness. Let forgiveness become part of who you are!

ILLUS – Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, example of forgiveness

4.The way to become a forgiving person is to forgive so many times that you lose count. You keep no record of wrongs against you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

5.Who is perfect among us? We are all imperfect and we will do imperfect things until Christ takes us home.  

6.If we do not have a spirit of forgiveness we are not going to have very many relationships because we will push people away.

ILLUS – Marriage requires forgiveness. Jesus loves us, imperfect as we are, so we better learn to do that too!

1 Peter 4:8, Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Pastor Rich, “Forgiveness is not a number; it’s a condition of the heart.”

B. Let go of the pain of the past 

1.One reason people don’t want to let go of their pain and their grudges is that they can’t stand the thought of the other person getting away with “it”! They want justice, their “pound of flesh”.

2.Here’s where faith must come in.

a.God will bring justice. He will settle all accounts.

b.Therefore, cast your cares upon the Lord knowing that He cares for you and will carry your burdens.

1 Peter 5:6-7, Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

3.One of the ways you can let go of your past hurts is by remembering how much you have been forgiven.

4.Jesus made the point when He told a parable about a servant who had been forgiven a debt he could never pay back (~ $12 million). Yet, he was unwilling to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a small amount. (23-35)

5.When the other servants saw what had happened, they cried “Foul!”

Ephesians 4:32, Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.


Is there a wound that needs to be healed in your heart?

Warren Wiersbe, “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart.”

Will you let God heal your heart?

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