Where Else Can You Go?
The Church’s Attitude Toward “Our Neighbor’s Sin”
Melvin Salal Rogers
Where can you go to find help when sin is winning the battle in your life? The church, right? Unfortunately, many congregations have a poor attitude concerning the sins of Christians and sinners seeking to be made righteous. James 5:16 suggests that Christians confess our trespasses to one another. As a preacher, my first advice is twofold: (1) Be careful what you confess, and (2) Be careful to whom you confess. Think of this advice as a set of questions: (a) Whom can you trust with your sinful secrets? (b) How will you be viewed? (c) Will you receive compassion or scorn? (d) Will you become the “next topic of gossip”? (e) Will your fellow Christians really be willing to help?
A Christian struggling with homosexuality, pedophilia, prostitution, pornography, alcohol, spousal abuse (physical and/or mental): How exactly can you help with these or many other sins such as murder, slander, lying, cheating, thievery, greed, extortion, or even gluttony? For many Christians, the “how” is found in the following statements: “I just can’t understand, and I don’t want to understand.” “Never trust him around your kids!” “I can never forgive that.” “If that person gets to heaven, then I don’t want to be there.” “Have you heard what they did? They are so disgusting!” “I don’t want to understand, just stay away from me!” “I don’t want to have anything to do with them or their family!” Too often, such statements reveal a majority unwilling not only to forgive sin but also unwilling even to help “renew” the mind of sinners.
What would YOU do in the following situations? Your child wants to marry a former prostitute who is converted to Christ. How long should your child wait to see if the “Christianity” of this new saint is “good enough” to receive your blessing? One year of faith? Two years? Five years? Ten years? NEVER! Your child wants to marry a former homosexual now converted to Christ. How long before you will approve of such a union? A former pedophile now converted to Christ would like to teach adult bible class, or maybe even a children’s class. How long before they can teach either? A penitent Christian was guilty of either being a habitual liar, cheater, or thief, but now wants to teach adults or children. How long after repentance? Can a former non-divorced and penitent adulterer ever be an elder? The answers to these questions are not simple, but is NEVER ever an option?
Whom did Christ come to save? Matthew 9:13 – For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 1 Timothy 1:15 – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. If Christ came to save sinners, His attitude towards them must be the attitude we take. He knew the magnitude, variety, and depravity all men were, are, and will be capable of concerning sin; yet, He willingly died for the whole world (John 3:15–17). 1 Corinthians 6:9–11 clearly points out that Christians in the past overcame challenging sins through obedience to the gospel. Titus 3:3–6 describes their “foolish” living, and, like us today, they were saved from their sinful lives.
As we walk in the light, let us “confess our sins” to be forgiven (1 John 1:7, 9) and learn to “love one another” – to show Jesus we are truly His disciples (John 13:34 –35). We must learn to be a safe refuge of love, compassion, and knowledge for Christians and sinners struggling to overcome sin. Some of us have gained the victory and need to share how we have overcome. If we are unwilling, we may all be lost. Christ was willing to open the church to the worst so that they could be their best. ARE YOU? 1 Oakwood Road, Fairmont, WV 26554. 304-363-1239. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Editor’s note: We are thankful to brother Melvin for this penetrating article. It is much needed, and I commend it to all of our readers. The question of forgiveness is clearly answered by our Lord. He said, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Many will not abide in these words. However, as Melvin said, the answers to some of the questions concerning how long to wait before a guilty but repentant and forgiven Christian is permitted to teach are difficult to answer. Forgiveness often does not alter circumstances or consequences – at least not immediately. One who kills or robs may repent and be forgiven, but this does not automatically cancel his prison sentence! Broken trust must be repaired and this requires time and effort. We truly are to bear one another’s burdens, but, ultimately, every man must bear his own burden. Every man must prove (test, examine, try) his own works. Galatians 6:1-6.)
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