Monday, May 26, 2014

Being Strong and Delicate on Sin

When dealing with the sins of brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be both strong and delicate.

We must be strong on sin.

That is to say that we must be clear on what sin is. This goes two directions:

First, we must understand what particular sins are. Unrepentant sinners typically don’t like for their sins to be called sins. They will be angry. They will consider your recognition of their sins as a sin in and of itself. They will persecute you, if possible, for calling out their sins.

Second, we must understand the nature of sin as part of the nature of fallen man. It’s not enough to point out individual sins, but we must understand that those individual sins are fully seated in the identity of sinners. We must be clear that we are all sinners in this way. The only difference is that those who have faith in Christ are forgiven based on his work on the cross and are subsequently reconciled with God.

But it’s precisely because of this point that we must be clear on what sin is. If we don’t get sin right, we don’t get the gospel right. If we don’t get the gospel right, we fail to convey the truth of it to those who are yet perishing in their sins. Without the truth of the gospel there is no way they can have enough understanding to have faith in Christ. It is precisely recognition of sin that brings recognition of our need for Christ. So we must be clear about sin.

We must be delicate with sin.

Being clear on sin doesn’t mean fully appreciating every little sin we commit. Even in the Law of Moses, sacrifices were offered for the forgiveness of sins that people were not aware of. Paul addressed people who had already come to faith with the revelation of sins they were committing unawares up until that time. As we go through life walking with Christ, spiritual growth necessarily entails learning of sin s we have been committing that we are now able to be discipled about effectively. The Holy Spirit, who guides us through this process, knows when to reveal sins to us in due course of our life as Christian believers.

As we live in community with other believers, and at home with Christian families, we must necessarily bear each other’s sins delicately. That is, if we are to agree with the Holy Spirit, we need to be sensitive to his guidance in pointing out the sins of others lest we reveal a sin before its time. Some obvious sins must be dealt with swiftly. Others must take time and an understanding of how that sin fits in with the development of another. If we are strong in minor sins and swiftly deal with them too early, a Christian who is not mature enough to handle certain sins may become undone or develop a resistance against dealing with sins and become weak in recognizing sin instead of stronger.

More could be said on this, but it is best to stay in prayer for your brothers and sisters in Christ to whom you have been given to live in Christian fellowship that you have guidance from the Holy Spirit to handle sin wisely, with both strength and delicacy, understanding that you should be also undergoing the same growth in other areas.

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