November 16, 2011

A Welcomed Warning

I love how life can often seem to swing things from one end of the spectrum to the other. Quickly! My last set of posts were addressing the issue of convictions - not only praying over our own, but trusting the Holy Spirit to speak to other Christians in certain areas. And understanding that my convictions are not always going to be everyone else's. It's not supposed to be that way. (Why am I going off on this again?) Back to the reason for writing today. I'm seeing more and more evidence that there's a clear lack of understanding with some Christian's that there's a difference between a brother or sister in Christ confronting sin in your life (&) someone simply being judgmental. I have a few thoughts about this and would love to hear your input.

First off, scripture makes it clear that if we call ourselves Christ-followers - if we claim the Spirit of God is living within us - we have opened ourselves up to the confrontation of sin in our life. Obviously our first desire should be that our life be rid of sin (Romans 6, 1 John 3). Along with that, scripture not only exhorts us (Hebrews 10) to "admonish one another", it even gives us clear instruction on HOW to approach and confront each other when sin has taken root (see Matthew 18:15-18). What kills me is when I hear someone, after being confronted over sin in their life, say, "Who are you to judge me?" or "Didn't Jesus say we aren't supposed to judge each other?" What this shows is not someone who's been immersed in scripture and being led by the Spirit, desperate to know the heart of God on in their life, but someone who's living in sin, possibly apathetic in their faith, and defensive from being called on it. There's a HUGE difference!

Jesus speaks clearly when He tells us in Matthew 7 that "with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged". Understood. But admonishing and confronting a "Christ-follower" to stop walking in sin is not judgment: it's (supposed to be) a welcomed warning! And we're called to usher this warning to our brothers and sisters in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 5:12, Paul says, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?" In other words, when a person within the body of Christ is living in sin, the body of Christ is called to confront the sin. (Paul actually even goes further with it and tells the Corinthians that if there isn't repentance, "Purge the evil person from among you!") How's that for judgment?

Here's the thing: As a follower of Jesus Christ, if there is ever anything in my life that even resembles sin, I want to know about it. Because I want to purge it from my life and get as far away from it as I possibly can. I want to constantly have a heart like David in Psalm 139 as he cries, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test my thoughts. See if there is ANYTHING offensive in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. And if my response to a brother (or brothers) in Christ coming to me in love (which takes a TON of courage, by the way!) to confront sin in my life is to defensively cry, "Who are you to judge me?", all this does is affirm it loud and clear. That's not humility and holiness talking. That's pride and apathy. That's sin.

Do you want biblical instruction, correction, and exhortation in your life? Do you welcome the warning? This is a question - as Christians - we have to answer.


Evert and Sandra Heskes said...

Thank you for this article it gave me much food for thought. I would appreciate any comments and/or corrections to what I have responded with.

The person doing the correcting must:
1. Do the correcting in love
2. Be free from the same sin (Matthew 7:4).
3. Be respected by the person who has sinned. If I see all kinds of sin in my brother or sisters life I might not easily take kindly to being corrected.
4. Be patient and allow God to show the person being corrected the sin.
5. Pray for the person who is in error and ask God to convict the person of their sin.

The person being corrected might have a knee jerk reaction and be embarrassed and angry when first corrected and they must do the following if they truly want to walk with God:
1. Come to a place in their lives where they love Jesus so much that they will accept (at least examine) any correction that anyone, even the unsaved bring forth.
2. Ask God to show them this sin in their lives and ask His forgiveness and the grace to overcome this and any other sin that the lord shows them.
3. Need to ask forgiveness for the sin of embarrassment and anger when they responded wrongly to the correction.
4. Thank the person who corrected them and if they were angered and embarrassed, they should ask for forgiveness from that person also.

Brian Mayfield said...

I think you articulated that very well; a thorough understanding of love, grace, forgiveness and restoration. Thanks!

Linda said...

Great topic, Brian, and excellent comment by Evert and Sandra Heskes. I'm going to step out on a limb and ask for a Biblical definition of sin. If I break a personal that sin? Kinda bringing in some questions from the last article. Hope I'm not the only one who would like to see it broken down a bit more. With "judgement" and fingerpointing we often hear, "that's a sin!" And with so much freedom being preached about in the church today I think sin gets "dumbed down" a bit. So...some good Biblical guidance on what is sin may be helpful. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Great post, Brian. Something I've walked through in my own life on both sides. Having been through this personally I know that being confronted with sin is hard. But what was hardest for me was knowing that I had let people I loved down. Of course it was embarrassing, but more than that, I was just so ashamed... I will say, though, that I have so much more love now for the person(s) that confronted me than I did before because they did it in a loving, helpful way. They wanted to help walk through it with me and help figure out how to purge it from my life. SO I agree with what Evert and Sandra said. I think doing the correcting in a loving, caring manner helps the person accept being confronted.

Having been confronted with my own sin in such a loving way has also given me a great example of how to confront others when I feel I need to. I think we also need to give the person being corrected room to process what was said. A knee-jerk reaction is almost always going to happen, usually because of embarrassment. But hopefully after thinking about it for a few hours or overnight, they will see that the person is confronting them out of love and concern- not judgement.

karen said...

Kelly, I completely agree with you. And as a sister in Christ we need to give the person we are speaking to the chance to react. But with that, we also need to be continually praying for that person and that God would show us how to continue to be a friend to them during their time of restoration. What is the point of confronting a sin if we get our feelings hurt by their reaction and don't minister to them through the pain of change.

Byron said...

Brian, I really enjoyed this post. I actually used this in my sunday school class to lead our discussion today. Thanks, Byron.