Hello brothers and sisters~
This past Sunday I gave a message focused on how we are to go about judging fellow Christians in our own body. This judging I was describing was the kind that understands that we all have our own struggles with sin and we all need help to fight our sin. As Hebrews 3:13 says, we need to “exhort one another every day…that none of [us are] hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
So, if we clearly see a speck of wood (sin) in our brother or sisters eye we ought to humbly go to them and gently remove it. I know this is hard to do. In fact, it is tempting to avoid (and in fact most of the time, the temptation wins). But we ought to do this. If we don’t, we only end up hurting ourselves and each other—especially those who are struggling the most with sin.
Think about it. If you’re struggling with some particular sin and no one ever loves you enough to lovingly challenge you about it, will you be more or less prone towards repentance? According to the Hebrews passage already quoted above, we will move towards being hardened in our sin if we don’t exhort one another. And if you grow increasingly hardened in your sin, will this be good or bad for you? Also, will this be good or bad for others around you in your life?
Of course we know the answer to these questions, don’t we? If you or I are not helped to fight our sin from another brother or sister we will face a much more difficult time in overcoming our sin. In the example I gave this past Sunday, you heard that through the bold yet loving and gentle actions of my friend he was able to help the church leader repent of his sexual sin. If he had not gone to him, I hate to think of the further depths to which this man would have plunged if his sin remained unchallenged and therefore “hidden.”
Beloved, it may not be easy, it may not be “fun,” but we need to humbly help remove the specks from each others eyes. Instead of only making things harder on ourselves, let’s see the value and help there is in going to one another.
Let me add something else on top of this. There is a warning that must go forward to any of us who may still think that we should just remain silent—that we should not judge someone to the point of going to them and exposing their sin and seeking to help them fight it. What is the warning? It is this: “To refuse to judge sin is to obscure the gospel” (quote from Mark Dever on issue of judging from 1 Corinthians 5:9-12).
Beloved, I know this is a strong statement, but think about it. If sin is never rebuked it seems then we are communicating (whether we intend to or not) that sin is no big deal. This could promote a type of grace that is in effect a license to sin. This is what we see happening in 1 Corinthians 5. The church there had a member who was involved in scandalous sin, yet they did nothing about it. In fact it was actually worse than that. They were “arrogant” (v. 2) and even boasted about it (v. 6). It seems that they thought that’s what grace was about—“We’re saved by grace so we can live how we please. Morality means nothing.”
But is this what the gospel leads to? God forbid! Several Scriptures contradict this. 1 Peter 2:16 says that we are to, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16). On this subject Jude warns: “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (1:4). And in Romans 6:1-2 we read, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Brothers and sisters, let us never be ok with grace becoming abused by thinking and living like it serves our selfish wants. No! The opposite is true. It should fuel our service to God.
And let us also fight against another implication of how refusing to judge sin can obscure the gospel: Our refusal to rebuke sin could send a message that Christians can never break out of patterned sin—that the gospel can break the sentence of hell but not the power of sin. But is this the gospel according to the New Testament? Are Christians doomed to enslavement to sin? Not at all!
In the Romans six passage just quoted above, Paul goes on to say to Christians in verses three and four, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
And what does this newness of life look like? Bondage to sin? Hardly. Rather, we are to “consider [ourselves] dead to sin and a live to God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11). We can now “present [ourselves] to God as those who have been brought from death to life,” we can bring who we are to God “as instruments for righteousness” (v. 13).
But this newness of life, rooted in the gospel of Christ, is being strangled if we teach or model a Christian life where sin is never exposed and put to death. So beloved, let us resolve to highlight the gospel not obscure it. If we judge rightly this will be the result. For we will go to one another and help sin be fought and defeated. Perfectly? Completely? Not gonna happen this side of heaven. But through a brother or sister lovingly challenging us in our sin, can conformity to Christ happen more and more here and now? Absolutely. And when it does, God’s gospel is seen as glorious and powerful.
May this increasingly be a part of our body at Grace~