(Disclaimer: I wrote this before 12/02/12 so don’t even think about it 🙂
There seems to be a favorite scripture that people use when you try and point something out as sin. This is particularly the case with obvious sins such as homosexuality that are becoming increasingly tolerated by our culture (and churches). The church stopped judging sin a long time ago and has let it go unchecked even within it’s own walls.
You know the verse that I’m talking about:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37 NET)
So this is a free ticket right? We can do whatever we want and nobody can say a darn thing about it.
The Bible makes a very clear distinction between a person and that person’s actions. We are to be tolerant of every person, we are to love every person unconditionally, but that doesn’t mean that that person can be allowed to go on sinning as if their sin is meaningless.
“Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6 NLT)
There are several occasions where the Bible refers to the fact that yeast spreads through the entire lump of dough. There can be no such thing as a sinning and no sinning section in a church any more than there can be a peeing and no peeing section in a swimming pool. Anything that is introduced will spread to the entire body.
The point is that this also applies to sin within the church. Now, you say if we are all sinners then how can we have a sinless church? The type of sinning that we are talking about here is unrepentant sinning. The type of sin where the person knows that it is sin and refuses to stop doing it and repent of it. If you’re struggling with a particular sin and are repentant and have asked for forgiveness and are actively trying to not do those things, that is covered by grace.
You still say, “We are not the judge God is, who are we to tell other people they are sinning?” Right, It is not the person that we are judging, but the behavior. 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” How do we know that someone is an unbeliever so that we can be sure not to team up with them? We judge their behavior… In other words, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then guess what? It’s a duck. We can see an unbeliever by their actions and we pass judgement on their actions.
Does this mean that we treat that person any differently as a person NO! This is the great lie that we have bought: That if you disagree with the way someone thinks or acts then that means you hate that person and that in order to love someone you have to believe and agree with everything that they do. This simply isn’t true.
To tell someone what the Word says is simply pointing them to the way they should go. How are they supposed to know that they need to repent if they are never told? What good would it do for you to tolerate someone’s sin just for them to reach judgement day and have to face their creator without the blood covering?
So let’s recap: Sin is sin and cannot be tolerated in any form because it will infect everybody it comes in contact with and will spread. People need to be called out on their sin, in a loving way. Tolerate the person without accepting their behavior. Judge the behavior without passing sentence on the person. Yes, we know the punishment for the sin but we are not the ones passing sentence, we have the opportunity to help people avoid their sentence by judging their behavior now, because our Judge provided a way for us to avoid the consequences of our sin if we turn away from it and turn to Him. This is mercy.
If someone claims to be a child of God then that gives all the more reason to call them out on their behavior. We are accountable for each other, we are on the same journey are are here to help each other along this narrow road in a dark world.
And we are NOT to support sinful behavior, and we shouldn’t protect someone from the consequences of their unrepentant sin. The only way out is through repentance and forgiveness from God, and that is between the person and God.