Church discipline – the practice of excluding certain members from the community of God’s people – is a hot topic today. Many churches, disturbed by the notorious sin and false teaching in their midst, have resorted to the ancient practice of church discipline. The Church, they insist, is called to be a holy community, reflecting the character of God to the world and being distinct from the world.

Many other churches, however, disturbed by what they see as the intolerant and judgmental attitude involved in these actions, have pushed back the other way. Jesus fellowshipped with tax gatherers and sinners, they insist. How dare we assume a “holier-than-thou” attitude and expel sinners from the church?
Similar tensions existed in the congregation of God’s people in the Old Testament – including in the days of Nehemiah. The way in which they faced these struggles will prayerfully help us understand what the Word of God teaches on these matters and how we can faithfully serve the Lord in our day.