During the Fall, we wrote a 4-part series on Sin in the Camp, basically covering when strife and trouble enter your community. We dove into how Satan can use this discord to set Christians against each other and disrupt the brother/sisterhood of Christians. Things like politics, candidate choices, abortion rights, gay rights, school curriculum, and so much more can rip apart our relationships. We have seen this so clearly in the last few years as our country, our churches and our communities have become more divided. If you’d like to review these blogs before proceeding, here is the link.
So, we strive to keep these subjects out of our Life Groups, our communities and even our family discussions. It’s surprising if not alarming and somewhat sad some of the seemingly petty things we can find ourselves in conflict about. Where God seeks to unite his children; Satan seeks to stir up conflict and cause division among us. Focus on peace, focus on harmony, focus on Jesus.
But What if There is Sin in the Camp, Real Sin, What Then?
Sin is nothing to be encouraged or celebrated. All people are sinners (Romans 3:23) and we will continue to struggle with sin throughout our lives, but the Lord does not want us to actively seek out sin or to condone it.
Condoning sin means accepting sin. God does not want Christians to condone sin as sin only leads to pain, destruction, and separation from Him. The Bible tells us God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19), which means we should too.
If a person condones sin, it means the person accepts, allows, and approves sin in their lives or in other people’s lives. While Christians are commanded not to judge others (Matthew 7:1), it does not mean Christians should condone sin.
This is a tough line to walk.
A person’s sin separates them from God as the Bible says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). If you condone sin in your own life, it will separate you from God. Even as believers, our sin can separate us from God.
Actively living in sin will cause a rift in our relationship with the Lord. When a person places faith in Christ, they are forgiven of their sins (Romans 6:23); however, the Lord does not want you to continue to live in sin.
Jesus preached forgiveness of sins and repentance (Luke 5:31-32). In the same way, the Apostle Peter reaffirms the need for repentance, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Repentance means to turn away from your sin and choose not to participate in the sin anymore.
A person should not ask for forgiveness if their ulterior motive is to simply go on sinning. In Hebrews 10:26, it states, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” If the person continually sins over and over again, it demonstrates that they are not truly remorseful over their sin.
The Apostle Paul speaks about people condoning sin in the Book of Romans. Paul was proclaiming the truth of God’s Word to the Church of Rome, and he was telling them what happens when a person deliberately lives in sin and refuses to accept the truth of God’s Word (Romans 1:18-32). The people Paul was referring to had committed a myriad of sinful acts and were condoning those who practiced these sinful actions.
Paul tells the Church of Rome about these people, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy” (Romans 1:29-31).
Paul continues to say, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).
The individuals who Paul speaks about were aware of God’s commands; however, they deliberately ignored His commands, refused to follow His righteous decree, and approved of those who did the same things.
This is clearly condoning sin and Paul does not represent condoning sin in a good light. As Christians, this still rings true for us today. We should never condone sin in our own lives or in other people’s lives. To condone sin would mean that you accept the sin, approve the sin, and maybe even encourage the sin.
So, what does this mean?
Years ago, we were leading a Life Group of 14 individuals – some single, some married. One of our members was a young widower. Within the group, he shared that he had begun dating someone and throughout the weeks they became more and more serious. We were all very excited for him and encouraging. Then it came out. She was married. Actively married, and living with her husband. A mother of three. Wait! What?? Hard stop.
The group was clear. This is not acceptable.
We, as leaders and long-time mentors were clear, this is sin. High-handed sin.
He didn’t care. She was “worth” it.
We persisted. So did he.
The Bible is clear that we should not judge others (Matthew 7:1); however, Christians are supposed to help each other when they are struggling. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Sin is a major problem and as believers, we cannot simply look the other way. Jesus tells us specifically to have two or three believers first talk to the person in private and then if they do not listen, the two or three believers should take it before the church (Matthew 18:15-16).
So, we contacted another Life Group leader. This member was also in his men’s only group. The three of us met with him to confront the sin. He listened. He was polite. He was understanding. He knew it was sin. She was “worth” it.
It can be difficult to approach a friend, family member, or another church member, but it is vitally important to talk to them. When you approach them, you need to speak the truth in kindness, humility, and love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking the truth in love does not entail a prideful, hostile, or superior attitude when you are confronting your fellow Christian struggling in their sin.
After the three of us had that conversation, we gave him time to think on his own. Our job is not to lead others to repentance. The Holy Spirit will convict a person of their sin, but sometimes believers can grow cold and calloused to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. As Christians, it is important to pray for each other, especially during these struggling times (James 5:16).
So, in our case, after the three of us met twice with our Life Group member and there was no repentance, acceptance of responsibility or desire to turn back to Jesus, we enlisted the help of one of the Pastors. In the end, after much discussion and much prayer, the member was asked to leave our group and leave the church until he chose to give up his high-handed sin.
Enabling someone’s sin is the same as indirectly taking part in that sin, and 1 Timothy 5:22 says, “Do not participate in the sins of others.” If the Bible has a command, we have the power to obey it. We often do not realize that we have the right and the responsibility to set personal boundaries that honor God. Learning to set healthy boundaries for ourselves is crucial to living the victorious life Jesus wants for us (John 10:10; Romans 8:37).
Boundaries define where our responsibilities start and end. When we know the boundaries, we are responsible for enforcing them. For example, if a friend insists that you drive the getaway car in a robbery, you don’t have to decide. The decision was made when you first chose to follow Christ. Jesus says stealing is wrong, so you will not enable theft. Participation in sin is not an option for a Christian (Romans 6:1–2; 1 John 3:9).
All Christians will continue to struggle with sin and any sinful act goes directly against God. It can be easy for people to rationalize their sin or to believe their sin does not hurt others, yet this could not be further from the truth.
Our sin does affect others, ourselves, and God. If we condone sin in our lives or in other people’s lives, we are sinning against God. Even if we are not personally participating in sinful behavior, yet we approve of someone else doing the sinful behavior, we are sinning against God. Sin is sin and we need to label it as such. Sin is never “okay.” All sin has dire consequences.
Even though as believers we are forgiven of our sins and will spend eternity with Christ, there are consequences for our sins in our earthly lives as well as we can have rewards taken away during the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Therefore, if a situation occurs where you are confronted with sin, ask God to help you as you prepare to confront your friend or loved one struggling with sin in their own lives with an attitude of kindness, humility, and love.
As identified above, the Bible clearly lays out steps for confronting sin. First and foremost, we have to earn the right to speak into someone’s life, this ONLY happens through relationship. We must earn the right to share what we believe and how we feel. Our walk and our life with Jesus lays the groundwork and gives us the ability to speak into other’s lives and to call sin, sin.
Know that staff is always available to help guide you in any way we can. Feel free to contact Pastor Terry at [email protected]
For God and you,