Matthew 18:18-20: “18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
These verses give courage to a Christian congregation as they apply Jesus’ words to people under their care. It’s always a joy to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” It is always frightening to say, “Your sins are not forgiven.” Jesus reminds us that when we gather in his name as a congregation to carry on his work, he is always with us to guide us.
The translation of his promise is difficult in English and does not capture the Greek well. It’s more like, “Whatever you bind on earth, will have been bound in heaven.” It’s not that we are speaking the words and God is affirming them. Rather, we are only speaking what God has already spoken in heaven. When someone does not repent of their sins, they are not forgiven. By announcing that verdict to them, we are only telling them what God has already said about their unbelief.
On more than one occasion, I have had to speak those words to someone. How hard it was! On the other hand, there were times when those words affected their hearts and they came back to confess their sins to me. What a joy it was to tell them, “God has forgiven your sins!”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me confidence to speak the truth in love to my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when they are caught in a sin. This is not easy, and I pray that you will be with me and give me the right words to speak at the right time. I ask this in your name. Amen.