Most of us remember the society's stance on sin in the more recent past, but are not familiar with some older light regarding this matter.
My daughters mother-in-law had an affair with a married man. She was single and both of them were witnesses. 3 years had went by since she had done that and had moved away from that situation and was doing well in the congregation.
Then, something made her want to get it out in the open as she felt she was "hiding sin", or "covering over" her sin. This idea came from more recent articles that taught witnesses that "serious sins" could NOT be solved by the sinner.....but rather NEEDED to come before the elders. Well, she told on herself and was Dfed for "hiding sin" for 3 years. Had the 1976 article still been in force, she would had never been Dfed. She had ALREADY reproved herself and made it good with Jehovah.
Below is a 1976 article that took a less rigid stance on sins and told us that a sinner could reprove themselves between themselves and Jehovah. I don't know this is fact or not....but my GUESS is this article was written by Raymond Franz....who was much more understanding than his uncle Fred.....who AFTER the termination from Rays position as Governing Body member.....RE-WROTE much of what Ray had written in regards to disfellowshipping and reproving wrongdoers in 1981and 1983. Here is the 1976 article, ( I believe there was 2 articles which is why the paragraphs run together in no sequence)
1976W Oct15 - Nov15
REPROVED BY OUR OWN HEARTS OR THROUGH THE HELP OF OTHERS 16 What, then, if a Christian commits some wrongdoing one or more times, but thereafter his conscience moves him to repent and he turns away from such wrongdoing, abandoning it? Does he still need someone to reprove him? 18 In the situation mentioned earlier, however, of one who repents of his sin and abandons it, has not the wrongdoer, in effect, already reproved himself? Yes, his own conscience does the accusing and God’s Word and spirit do the convicting and his heart moves him to repent and turn away from the wrongdoing. He does not require someone else to ‘lay bare his fault’ in order to get him to acknowledge and correct his wrong course.—Compare Psalm 16:7; Jeremiah 2:19.
DETERMINING WHO ARE ‘PRACTICERS’ OF SIN
3 Going back to the language (Greek) in which Paul wrote, we find that the expression "practice sin" is ha·mar·ta´non·tas, the present active participle of the verb "to sin" in Greek. What does that tell us? Note what Bible commentaries say (italics added for emphasis):
The Expositors’ Greek Testament says: " . . . the use of the present participle suggests that habitual sinners are under discussion. . . . Paul is speaking of persistent sinners."
Schaff-Lange’s Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical Commentary states: "The sinful persons are represented as still at the time living in sin, whence the present [form of the verb] is used where otherwise the perfect [form] would be expected."
4 Paul therefore used a form of the verb that describes present, not past, action, that relates to a course that is continuing, not one that has been abandoned
5 There can be no doubt that each time a sin is repeated, the gravity of the wrongdoing grows. And anyone who extends his sinning over a prolonged period certainly is making a practice of it. However, from the information earlier presented we can see why the sole fact that a person has committed a certain wrong more than once, perhaps two or three times, would not of itself place him among those whom Paul describes as "persons who practice sin." The vital question is, Has the person turned away from the wrongdoing, abandoning it? Or is it a continuing thing, a persisting course? If the latter is the case, then the individual does fit the apostle’s description.
8 So 1 Timothy 5:20 speaks of sinning that requires reproof before all onlookers for the very reason that it is being persisted in, not discontinued. From this it seems evident that the apostle is not describing persons who may have committed some wrong act one or more times but who thereafter have repented and truly abandoned such wrongdoing.
15 In any case of serious wrongdoing however, whether the repentant one seeks their help or they, instead, go to him, the congregational elders would want to be satisfied that there is sincere repentance and that he is earnestly endeavoring to hold to a right course. If the person’s own heart has not reproved him and moved him to abandon the wrong, then the elders have the duty to endeavor to help to bring about these needed things.
9 The principle of not publicizing a person’s fault beyond what the need requires would also seem to find support from the general procedure followed in fleshly Israel under the Law covenant. The Bible regulations and accounts indicate that cases of wrongdoing came before the city elders at the gates primarily when controversies were involved, as in cases where an offender would not acknowledge having wronged another, and also when the community as a whole was seriously affected or endangered by the wrongdoing.—See Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 384, 385, 1053, 1054.
10 But it is noteworthy that the sins involved were either such as could cause grave danger to the community, including the fomenting and advocating of apostasy, sins that called for the death penalty, or they were sins that had already become public knowledge, such as the bearing of false witness in open court
13 From all the Scriptural evidence it would seem that occasions where sinning needs to be reproved before the entire congregation would be limited to cases of serious wrongdoing that are, or are certain to become, general knowledge