It was implied of Jesus and his disciples, on one occasion, that they were too tolerant. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” the Pharisees asked of Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 9:10-13. Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Jesus had the uncanny ability to see through sin, beholding the sinner . . . heart and soul.
Admittedly, there was a day during my lifetime when all too many of us who called ourselves “Christians” were altogether too “pharisaical.” Tolerance was not one of our better qualities. We found sin to be disgusting and so we easily and readily repudiated sinners. Our self-righteousness could not even stand a hint of “off-coloredness” in those with whom we associated. As Christians we were ignorant of the fact that love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). Love’s view is not impeded by sin, for it is, like Jesus, moved by the worth of a soul. How good it is to see maturing among us. More and more of us are seeing people – God’s creatures – and are not being blinded by the ugly sins of those people. We are beginning to finally realize that “this little light of mine” shines best in darkness. Now, we are better able to reach out to people with the gospel because we can see past repulsive sin to that valuable God given soul underneath.
BUT THE PENDULUM SWINGS!
I’m terribly concerned. Along with this maturing trend of tolerance toward sinners, we are carelessly developing a trend toward the toleration of their sin. Never will sin be acceptable. Even though we have heard many ignorantly suggest to the contrary, Jesus was NOT tolerant toward the adulteress’ sin (John 8:1-12). “Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11). I’m sure that she did not leave his presence believing him to be soft on sin. He loved the sinner, but he tolerated not her sin. He called the immorality what it was – SIN! Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2); it always has and it always will. Sin is a killer of hope (Romans 6:23), placing our eternal destiny in jeopardy.
Somehow, we do not seem quite capable of distinguishing between sin and the sinner. Today’s church seems to feel that being tolerant toward sinners requires, yea, even demands that we tolerate their sin. NOT SO! Their sins ought not keep us from the worth of their soul, but we cannot minimize their sin in the process.
The church must, if it is to perpetuate man’s hope of heaven, develop both the love and courage of Jesus. We must love sinners and courageously say, “don’t sin anymore! Do something about your sins the LORD’S WAY!” We must abandon the word “mistake,” as we so generously have come to characterize sin. Let’s courageously call pre-marital sex, un (anti) scriptural divorce and remarriage, social drinking, homosexuality and others immoralities, and doctrinal heresy . . . what it is . . . SIN!
Are you concerned?
Charlie Garner, Lake Forest church of Christ.
“It is one simple fact: Christians hate sin yet love sinners! So simple to preach yet so difficult to practice. It appears contradictory. Some preach against sin so heatedly they cannot accept or love a sinner . . . others accept and love sinners to a degree they cannot preach against sin. BOTH are wrong.
“To illustrate . . . I hate cancer but love cancer patients. There is no contradiction in this. Even if their cancer was basically self-caused. Even if cigarette smoking caused the lung cancer, the patient is still loved, aided, prayed for and served. Lung cancer patients must not be “shot” because we preach against cigarettes. Booze can cause cirrhosis of the liver but the patient must be loved with compassion. Gluttony can cause stomach disorders; worry can cause ulcers. The point vividly is this — illness is hated but sick people are loved!
“Compassion, urgency, ministry, encouragement must be given the sick. They have our priority. And the greatest sickness is sin. Jesus is the only answer. Jesus calls the sinner – not the righteous.”
SIN SHOULD SCARE US TO DEATH!
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4). Only one who is “dead” is to be “buried.” In this case the one “buried” (baptized) has “died” to sin. To the Colossians this same Paul penned, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3). And, to the Galatians he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). The common denominator of each of these is that those who are followers of (alive in) Christ are “dead to sin.”
Sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). It is the transgression of God’s will (1 John 3:4). It causes one to walk in darkness (1 John 1:6). It defiles “the temple of God,” resulting in destruction from Him (1 Corinthians 3:17). He is to be feared who has the power to cast one into the depths of hell (Matthew 10:28).
Since sin is so destructive and devastating to man, it should “scare us to death.” That is, it should frighten us to the point that we “die” to sin (Romans 6:2). It should cause us, through repentance, to put to death the old man of sin (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). In order to live for him, we must die to self (Galatians 2:20; Luke 14:26). Being dead to self and sin, we must then be buried (baptized into Christ). It is only then that we can live in and for Him (Romans 6:4; Galatians 2:20). It is only then, as we live for Him and walk faithfully in the light of His word (1 John 1:7) that we have no fear of sin (Romans 6:7). If you are not a Christian, sin should scare you to death. If you are an unfaithful Christian, one who has NOT struggled against sin in his/her life, and if you have not repented, it will ultimately lead to your eternal death.
Are you “scared to death” of sin in your life? Eddy Gilpin