Today’s passage is a proof text for question and answer 85 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which deals with how church discipline opens and shuts the door to the kingdom of heaven. Excommunication shuts the door by declaring that the excommunicated person is not a Christian. When this decision is made carefully and in accordance with Scripture, the word of church leaders carries biblical warrant, and we are foolish not to heed it.
In excommunication, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “the idea is not merely to punish the offender, or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and then to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than as a brother” (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,158). Think of someone who has, on account of unrepentant sin, been cast out of your church. Take time today to pray for his salvation.