Convicting Of Sin

Andy Robison

In a world apathetic in attitude toward wrong, it is unpopular and sometimes dangerous to warn people that their actions are, indeed, sin.

The word sin is defined as missing the mark. The mark is behaving rightly. One sins when he misses that goal. 1 John 3:4 defines sin as "a transgression of the law" (KJV) or "lawlessness" (NKJV). That is to say that sin ignores any kind of law of behavior. What a pertinent description that is of the attitude of the modern world.

The follower of Christ has an obligation to point out sin to people out of the motive of love. Christ warned that the lawless would have no part with Him in eternity (Matt. 7:23). The wrath of God is stored up for those who do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness (notice a comparison with lawlessness) (Rom. 2:5-8). Thus, those who walk in sin are in grave danger, whether they admit it or not. Their apathy may temporarily excuse their consciences from pangs of guilt, but there will be a day when the Maker of all things will "render to each one according to his deeds" (Rom. 2:6). Love dictates that those who know of such a coming judgment share the knowledge. To hide such knowledge betrays another sort of diabolical apathya lack of care for the well being of fellow mankind. Love dictates telling people of their sins.

This sort of love is manifested in the sermons of the apostles in the historical record of Acts. The first gospel sermon has Peter convicting the audience of their guilt of crucifying Christ no less than two times. "Him (Jesus) have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:23). "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Acts 3:14-15 carries this accusation to a crowd gathered at the temple: "But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses."

It is, at best, uncomfortable, and, at worst, perilous, to inform people of the wrongness of their deeds. Some will become angry and even resort to violence (cf. Acts 7:53ff.). Yet, the job is done with the hope that the pricking of the heart (Acts 2:37) will result in genuine repentance. After all, it is the goodness of God that so leads one (Rom. 2:4).

Our world needs reminded, by the public proclamation of preachers and the private conversation of patient teachers, that sin is both prevalent and eternally devastating. All of this should be done "in a spirit of meekness and gentleness" (Gal. 6:1), but it must be done. Sermons should carry a balance of causing faithful Christians to feel good about their salvation and reminding those who may be unfaithful of the severity of the consequences they are engendering toward themselves. Christians who are friends with non-Christians really do the non-Christians no favor by never gently bringing up the subjects eternity, sin, Christ, repentance, and grace.

When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help the apostles, He noted the Spirit's purpose: "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). The Spirit does that now through the revealed word that sets all standards of morality and ethics. It is a necessary part of evangelism to make the grace of God known to people. This grace, however, is not understood without the knowledge of the reason for it - to relieve the obedient of the penalty of unrighteousness. People won't understand grace without understanding sin.

Even the church, in some places, does not like to hear lessons on sinfulness, but the topic of discussion is absolutely necessary if the church is to understand the fullness of the grace and love of Christ. 30 Tarrytowne, Washington, WV 26181.


Return to West Virginia Christian