God uses people as one of several means to bring correction into our lives. Pray for grace and wisdom to receive with a right attitude what others speak into your life – do not become defensive, rather guard your reaction so you can profit from it by becoming a better person (Prov 9:8, 17:10, 25:12; 2 Cor 7:8,9). As well as being open to the input and correction of others, “Show me where I have been wrong”, is a good prayer to pray to God, because those who reject reproof will eat the fruit of their ways (Job 6:24; Prov 1:30,31, 15:5). The natural reaction of the carnal nature is to rise up with “Who made you a ruler over me” and become offended (Ex 2:14).
No one is above being questioned or being held accountable for his or her actions and there will be at least some truth in any rebuke we receive. Ideally, when confronted, this will lead to a personal examination of our lives before God resulting in renewed fellowship with Him and others, along with repentance from sinful practices and effort to correct ungodly traits (Prov 27:6, 28:23; Lk 17:3; 2 Cor 7:8-11; Heb 12:11).
Rebuking is one of the four purposes of Scripture; it helps us realise what is wrong in our lives so we can be prepared and equipped to do good to everyone (2 Tim 3:16,17). Paul instructed Titus, to “Encourage and rebuke with all authority”' (Tit 2:15). The authority comes from the truth of the Bible.
Godly rebuking should result in restoration
2 Tim 4:2; Tit 1:13). Be sure of your facts before confronting people with any charge, being aware there are guidelines to be followed (1 Sam 26:9; 1 Tim 5:1,19,20). Even if you know the answers, ask questions rather than make statements enabling the people to discover for themselves what the problem is.
Always maintain the honour of the person being confronted. We are not to quibble about character qualities or what someone does differently to us. A rebuke (exposing the sin) is only to be used if their conduct is not appropriate for a believer (Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19,20; 1 Jn 5:16). Rebuking is a means to maintain this accountability with our brothers and sisters in Christ by speaking into their lives with loving honesty the truth and principles of the Word (Lk 17:3; Eph 4:25). “A rebuke to a man of commonsense is very effective…” (Prov 17:10). As iron sharpens iron, we can spur each other on in the faith, to release our potential (Prov 27:17).
It is recorded Jesus rebuked the wind, demon, and fevers (Mt 8:26, 17:18; Lk 4:39). When Jesus rebuked someone or something, He demanded, in effect, on God’s authority, that it cease and desist. The outcome – winds quieted, demons were exorcised and fevers dismissed.
Peter and Jesus both rebuked each other (Mk 8:32,33). Peter reacted from his human understanding of the situation, whereas Jesus rebuked Peter because he was only seeing things from an earthly viewpoint.
God says, “Those I love I rebuke and discipline” (Rev 3:19). He has our best interests at heart “so repent…Do not despise His discipline or resent His rebuke” (Prov 3:11,12; Heb 12:5-11). Humbly accept His verdict. The same humility should characterize any rebuke we offer others. Our motivation is paramount. We need to be aware of our own weaknesses, ‘quick to listen and slow to speak’, and when necessary employ the safeguard of a ‘third party’ (Mt 7:1-5, 18:16; Jas 1:19). Paul cautions Timothy against harsh rebukes (1 Tim 5:1) As Christians we are to expose the evil in society – not in a proud, judgmental, self-righteous way – but, rather showing how far, as humans, we have fallen below God’s high standards (Eph 5:11). As churches and believers we should be known for giving credit and encouragement when deserved besides being renowned for our good works and righteous living (2 Cor 13:10; Rev 2:2-6,13-16,19,20).
God has permitted Satan to have significant power and influence over the earth, at least for now, yet always within God’s sovereign control. As believers we also have been invested with authority from Jesus yet there is no biblical basis that we are to be rebuking Satan or his many evil spirits, the agents who do his bidding (Eph 6:12). The Bible teaches, "submit to God. Resist the devil [refuse to be moved, countering his attacks] and he will flee from you" (Jas 4:7).