"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). The fact is, we all sin (Rom. 3:23). We all need God’s mercy and love that forgives us in Christ (Eph. 2:4-7; 1:7). The mercy we have obtained in Christ compels us to show mercy to those who sin against us (Matt. 18:32-35). However, this is only one of the responses God teaches us to have when others, including Christians, sin. It can become especially difficult to react properly when fellow-Christians sin, and even more so when the sin is against us personally. Here are typical reactions and what God teaches us to do. When a Christian sins, will we…
1) Ignore it? Approaching another person about sin is not pleasant; it can be heart-wrenching and painful. Yet, Jesus said, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). When we know of a fellow-Christian’s sin we cannot say, “That is his (her) problem, it doesn’t concern me.” The Holy Spirit said we must care for one another: “…the members (of the body, the church, jrp) should have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25).
2) Follow him into sin? We all carry a certain amount of influence over others. Because this is true, it is also true that at times we allow the influence of others to draw us into participating in their sin. “And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him (Peter), so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy” (Gal. 2:13). Jesus warned his Jewish audience to follow the law of Moses taught them by the Pharisees, but not to follow their works, “for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:3). To follow someone else into sin is always a dead-end street.
3) Forsake the truth in disgust or despair? Christians are not to think and be like the world (2 Cor. 6:17; 1 Jn. 2:15-16; et al.). When Christians choose the world over righteousness it discourages us. One of Paul’s companions left him for the world, and others failed to take their stand with him in his hour of trial (2 Tim. 4:10, 16). Did Paul decide to give up and walk away from the truth? No. He “fought the good fight…finished the course…kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:8). When your faith is tested by the sins of others, take heart and stay the course. God is calling you to higher, holier living.
4) Follow the teaching of Jesus? “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Lk. 17:3-4). The root meaning of “rebuke” means “to show honor toward,” then “to convict, refute.” So, when we rebuke the sin of a brother we are actually showing honor for him. As Paul said, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16) The goal of rebuke is to bring about repentance (Lk. 17:3). If the brother repents we must forgive him. Otherwise, bitterness and malice will find a lodging place in our hearts. Even sins that are repeatedly committed against us are to be forgiven as the sinner repents and asks for our mercy and compassion (Lk. 17:4).
5) Pray for him? The prayers of righteous people are powerful. So, “confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Jas. 5:16). Simon asked Peter to pray for him (Acts 8:24). We should be praying for each other (Eph. 6:18).
6) Teach him
a better way? The path of truth leads the sinner out of sin into the
warmth of God’s forgiveness and love. When a fellow-Christian sins it is
our task to attempt to “restore” and “convert” him (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19).
Only the power of God contained in His word of truth can prick the sinner’s
heart and show him the way of salvation (Acts 2:37-38; Rom. 1:16-17).
Unless we teach God’s truth to sinners they will remain lost in their sin
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA