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What Does the Bible Say About..Church Discipline?

What does the bible say about punishing people in the church that have sinned? Example a person on drugs what should the bible say we should do to the person if the person holds a position in the church. Only on hearsay, not something we have seen.


“Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19)

Although this was written specifically about elders, the principle is stated throughout God’s word. Unless you have two or more reliable witnesses that actually saw a person doing what he is accused of, you can’t take any disciplinary action. Gossip (hearsay) doesn’t count. Without actual, believable witnesses you have no right to spread gossip.

If the accusation is substantiated by witnesses that the person is using illegal drugs, then the legal obligation is to report that person to the law enforcement authorities. The moral obligation would be to try to get the person into treatment. The biblical obligation would be for the elders of the congregation to work with the person to bring them back into God’s way and for the congregation to love the person regardless of what he has done. If the person, as you indicate, holds a position in the church then the elders or whoever put the person in that position needs to consider the effect of their influence and whether it might not be best to remove them from that position.

Of course, all of that depends on whether by “on drugs” you mean illegal drug use. I know many people who are legally, regularly using prescribed drugs. I even know some who are regularly using legal drugs (tobacco, alcohol) who should not, but are probably not sinning by doing so.

Please see What Does the Bible Say About..Withdrawing? for my previous answer on church discipline. Note, though, that drug use is not one of the things for which we should withdraw from a person.