Sometimes Christians are no different. We claim to not to be anti-God but we sit idly by and watch as people who are among us sabotage and spiritually defile the Lord’s body. We may not be the ones who are greedy, adulterers, drunks, abusing our spouses or kids, watching pornography, lying, stealing, or putting worldly pursuits in front of Godly ones - but if we see it and say nothing, we are just as guilty.
If I hear one more Christian say something like, “We are all in different places. It’s not my job to tell someone they are doing wrong, it’s just my job to love them,” I may jump off of a bridge.
Correction. It IS your job to (albeit lovingly and with wisdom) tell someone when they are doing wrong. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the main responsibilities that you have been given as a true follower of Jesus. We have been tasked with helping one another be as holy as possible. It’s pretty much the whole purpose of the church. And it’s not loving at all to allow someone to just live in sin. Who is to say how many days we have left on this earth? If the people I love appear to be headed to hell instead of heaven, how loving am I to just passively sit and watch while they continue down that road? And this is not my opinion. It’s God’s opinion. I posted several verses at the bottom that show that truth to be evident.
A woman I know who claims to be a dedicated follower of Christ recently moved in with her boyfriend. They bought a house together and even threw a housewarming party. In my mind I wondered how they thought they’d “get away with” living together. Would they lie to their church? Would they stop going there? As I read the Facebook comments, my jaw hit the floor when I saw that the preacher of their church left a message saying something along the lines of, “May God bless your home, it was great being at the party.”
I’ll be honest. It kind of makes me ill. Not that they are living together (although it is clearly sin and is a sad situation all around), but that people who are supposed to be spiritual leaders just provide refuge for people who have openly embraced sin.
When sin is allowed to exist unchecked in the church and come with no accountability or consequence, it almost always results in a festering mess that hurts, weakens, and sometimes even kills the souls of it’s members. In the Bible, the sin of one man (Achan in Joshua 7) eventually led to the deaths of 36 men. The Holy Spirit of God cannot actively move and breathe among a body that has no regard for keeping itself pure. And a church without the Spirit of God is a dead one.
In 1 Corinthians 5, there is a church who has a man who is sleeping with his father’s wife. The church not only allowed it, they seemed to be proud of it (probably because they took pride in being a church that was so “progressive”). But the apostle Paul tells them in no uncertain terms that not only has HE judged this person in the name of Jesus, but that they should too. He tells them that a little bit of leaven will leaven the whole batch of dough (meaning that a little evil in the church will inevitably spread it’s fingers into the rest of the church). He basically says that if this guy won’t repent, kick him out before he takes everyone else down with him. And hopefully by kicking him out, he’ll see the seriousness of his sin and turn back to God.
I know it’s not fun. It sucks really, really, REALLY bad. To go to someone who you respect or love and tell them that they are doing something or acting in a way that is going to prevent them from getting to Heaven is quite possibly one of the hardest things we have to face. But it is a necessity. And it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. And sometimes, it clears up misunderstandings and relationships can actually grow from it.
If you know someone is in sin…please don’t just ignore it. Say something. As long as it is done in love, just pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the right words and just do it. You may not be good at it or like confrontation, but you know what…most people don’t. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be done.
If you know someone is in sin…please don’t tell someone else and expect them to deal with it. This is a popular method. Brother or sister so-and-so are doing wrong so you tell your preacher or elder how concerned you are about the person. This method also usually includes the “please don’t tell them you heard it from me” provision. This makes things very hard on the people you are going to. The information they have is second hand and appears to be very gossipy if it is taken to people. And if you leave it to other people to do it all of the time, the same people end up doing it and start being looked at like the morality police and all that happens is people try harder to keep it secret from that select few. As where if everyone was equally involved in watching out for sin - things would be a lot easier on everyone involved - except for the person in sin. If YOU are witness to sinful behavior, scripturally speaking, it is YOUR responsibility to address it. You can take someone with you if you want…but at least be present.
And please, please, please…if you know someone is sinning, don’t join in or be present while that sin is happening. People in the church getting together and getting drunk? Don’t just let it go. Is a friend of yours in the church cheating on their spouse? Please don’t entertain conversation about the other man or other woman as if it’s a cute high school crush. Do you watch as a wife disrespects her husband or a husband is abusive to his wife? Don’t crack jokes about what an idiot he is or how she is such a nag. Encourage one another to love and good works.
Sin will keep people out of Heaven. It is not cute. It is not funny. And it is not harmless. Let’s all stop acting like it is.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 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.” Matthew 18:15-17
“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” 1 Timothy 5:20
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2