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Christ Church | Lafayette, Louisiana
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Christ Church
800 Jefferson Blvd
Lafayette, LA 70501
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Sins That Make You Go Hmmm...
Posted by: #WeAreChristChurch | more..
1,280+ views | 250+ clicks
Have you ever noticed sin among your fellow church goers? Of course you have. We all have. Have you then thought, “Hmm…I wonder if anyone is doing anything about this sin?” “Hmmm…I wonder if these folks are faithful to God?” “Hmmm….I wonder if anyone ’round here as the courage to deal with sin?” Well, I would like to answer those queries. I think this can be one of the most helpful lessons to learn in navigating the murky waters of congregational sin. Call it navigational nuance….here goes…

Occasionally in the life of a church the Lord will test the pastors and the congregation. (1 Cor. 11:19) He will allow certain individuals to fall into some public sin. Or He may allow that someone in open rebellion get very “close” to a few gullible members of the congregation. The test could manifest itself in a number of ways, but one thing is for certain: God will test our willingness to honor him. Will we have the courage to say NO to sin both individually and corporately?

An Overview of Handling Sin in The Church

Now, when a church is passing the test God will be honored and sin will be confronted on a number of levels. Here is a short list of a few ways that churches confront sin:

  1. Through Preaching: Individuals will have their sin confronted in a general sense from the teaching ministry of the church. As Paul told Timothy, “Preach the Word…rebuke…with patience and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2) Notice that Paul says that this is to be done with patience. That is, we do not expect everyone to shape up overnight. This is a marathon to Christ-likeness not a sprint. Moreover, Paul is not calling for public shaming of individuals for particular sins. Jesus is clear when he says that public confrontation should always be a last result following a series of private confrontations. See the next two points.
  2. Through Accountability Between Two Friends: Moreover, individuals will from time to time be confronted by a fellow believer. As Jesus instructs in Matt. 18. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Note here as well that Jesus is teaching “brothers” how to deal with “brothers.” In application, this is not how we are to deal with visitors or regular attenders to church. This is how we are to deal with what we commonly refer to as “members.” Individual members and pastors are not able to nor should they attempt to exercise church discipline over people who are simply observing their church and floating on the fringes of the faith. We should, if given the chance, tell them the truth regarding their sins but we cannot move forward in public church discipline because they are not yet in the church. Nor should we interpret the sin in a visitor or regular attenders life as a sign that our church’s leadership and members are lazy with sin and in compromise before God.
  3. Through Formal Small Group Concern: The next way in which sin is confronted is through a non-biased, wide, small group confrontation. Matt. 18:16 states, “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”
  4. Through Formal Public Proceeding: Then finally sin may be directly and publicly confronted by the church at large. Matt. 18:17 states, ” If he refuses to listen to them [the small group of witnesses], tell it to the church.” presumably along side the testimony of the witnesses previously mentioned.
  5. Through Forgiving and Forgetting: It is also true that not every sin is to be confronted. Love covers a multitude of sins. Now, which are to be confronted and which are to be left for the Holy Spirit alone to deal with is not always easy to answer. But, we must at least be aware of the category less we all spend all day, every day for the remainder of our lives confronting each other over every little jot and tittle. If we bite and devour each other…

Seems Simple Enough. Right?

Okay, so there it is. It seems simple and straight forward but in actual practice it can be quite difficult and messy. This world is broken and that includes a church’s attempts at purity. But, one of the ways in which it really gets messy and downright ugly is when individuals forget one of the most important aspects of dealing with sin: PRIVACY!

What do I mean? Notice that in every single situation of confrontation except the very last and final step (step 4), we are not to publicly rebuke individuals for their personal sins. Rather, we are to maintain privacy guarding their reputation. This is especially true considering that (1) In most cases, the “sinner” deserves a right to repent before being publicly vilified. (2) The accusations may be and very often are false or overly critical. (3) The accused “sinner” will find it hard to engage in fruitful service after their reputation has been run through the mud by gossip. (4) Jesus commands that we deal with some sin in private.

But, one of the ways in which it really gets messy and downright ugly is when individuals forget one of the most important aspects of dealing with sin: PRIVACY!

What about Transparency and Other Concerns?

So, considering the need for privacy in dealing with sin, here are a few applications to consider.

  1. Jesus sometimes commands a lack of transparency. And then, sometimes he doesn’t. Transparency is not necessarily a virtue or a vice. It can be a horrific sin. It can be a faithful virtue. What we may perceive as a lack of transparency may actually be someone trying to obey Jesus’ command to privacy. Now, if the situation were a trial and we were the judge and/or the prosecutor it would make sense that we want to know all the sordid details. But Christians should be leery of taking on those judicial mantles when dealing with one another’s sins.
  2. We should assume that a local church is filled with sinners. We should also assume that if the church is actually a church filled with Christians that it should be attempting to deal with that sin in private. Moreover, we should assume that sin is being dealt with in our own church without everyone’s knowledge.
  3. That being said, we should avoid jumping to the conclusion that sin is being tolerated and that our fellow church members and pastors are corrupt and compromising simply because we are not aware of how sin is being dealt with.
  4. And, then finally the worst possible thing one could do when sin is creeping up in the church, is complain and gossip about it. Rather, you should “tell it to your brother.” And this does not mean any ol’ brother. It means that we are to talk to the offending brother, the accused….privately!

So, in the end let’s show how much we care about fighting sin by fighting all sin including unjust speculations, unloving suspicion, doubt-sowing and tale bearing. When we see something or hear something that makes us go, “Hmm…” Let’s keep that in our own head and if we are going to talk about it, talk to the one person we are supposed to talk to.

In Christ & In Community,

Pastor Brandon

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