In a fallen world like ours, every community must have defenses. Every flock of sheep must have shepherds willing to fight. Every nation must have an army and navy. Every town needs a police force. A church that never disciplines has AIDS. It has no functioning immune system. Churches without discipline cannot fight off the leprosy of heresy or the cancer of immorality.
So when a church disciplines, it is responding to immorality or false teaching within the ranks. But there are also times when the opposition tries to seize the high ground, and when this happens the elders and pastors find themselves accused. The trick is to defend the ministry without becoming personally defensive.
Have you ever wondered why the apostle Paul had to defend himself so much? He did this, not because he had an extraordinarily prickly personality, but rather because he was faithful to the message of free grace, which means that he was attacked all the time. And when he was attacked in this way, he never hesitated to defend his ministry through defending himself. To give a complete list of examples would be overwhelming, but the combative apostle does give us a model to follow.
Jesus tells us that when we are struck on one cheek, we are to turn the other. The apostle Paul teaches us to punch back twice as hard. Furthermore, there is no contradiction. If there is apparent contradiction, we are not to try to resolve it through ignoring half of the evidence.
“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just” (Rom. 3:8). “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Tim. 4:14). “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13).
Given the corruption of the times, it is not surprising that some churches are being attacked. The marvel is why more are not being attacked. Another marvel is why more churches are not responding the way the Scriptures instruct.