“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:17-18).
The instructions for addressing sin within the community of faith (18:15-20), often raise the question, “Who are we to judge another?” The behavior confronted, however, isn’t something subjectively deemed as inappropriate; it is a clear and objective violation of what God, himself, has judged as sinful and is stated as such in scripture. The language of “binding” and “loosing” is an extension of the work of the Spirit. His presence is manifested in the world through his church (Revelation 1; Acts 9:4), and empowers the church to uphold the authority of scripture and act redemptively for the recovery of those who would wander from the fold.