Everybody sins (Romans 3:23). Sin is normal—but sin is not acceptable or something to be tolerated. If sin is ignored, the consequences will bring some level of destruction into a person’s life. The Bible has promised that Satan is intent on destruction. Satan does not have the ability to destroy a Christian’s salvation (John 10:27). Instead, Satan can destroy a Christian’s witness, so that other people will be destroyed.
What are God’s people supposed to do when they know a person is choosing sin as a normal or acceptable way to live? This has been a tricky and divisive problem since the beginning of time, so we can expect it always will be. The Church has been like a pendulum, historically, from tolerance to intolerance and every degree between. If the problem were easy to solve, it would have been solved centuries ago.
This blog is the result of several conversations I’ve had recently. I’m writing these words on a Sunday morning, at 4:30 a.m. because God told me to “Get up and type.” I promise to write prayerfully, biblically, and with directness. There is way too much “sin in the camp” these days, and our churches and our Christian witness to the world are showing the effects. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee, or wake up and find that we have overslept and missed our chance.
I’m not going to write a long list of sins and statistics. You can trust me when I say that a lot of Christians are controlled by and submitted to sinful behaviors. Our world calls them “normal” or a product of the changing times. God calls our sins “detestable.” Does God lack understanding about real life? Does God want to condemn and control?
God understands every sin and failure and why we choose both. God is willing to forgive anything we are willing to repent of. God does condemn sin and wants to control our lives—because God is incapable of tolerating what isn’t beneficial to the people he adores. Christians need to be more like God when it comes to sin.
If a child chooses to step into the road, you can trust that almost every parent watching that mistake will not tolerate the “free-will choice.” We would be lousy parents and uncaring people if we did. The child might have been told countless times that he can’t run into the street. We won’t shrug our shoulders and say, “He has been warned,” or “Who am I to say he can’t do it?” If the child is in danger, we are going to interrupt our lives and even risk our lives to help. There isn’t another option.
Those of us who know God, and know God’s word and will, are spiritual adults. People who don’t are spiritual children. That isn’t arrogance or superiority—it is simply truth. Christians have been able to accept Jesus as Lord and enjoy the blessings that come from living with God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be ready to interrupt our lives and take the necessary risks to save others who haven’t. The tricky aspect of confronting a person about sin is that the person may not be a child physically. Still, Christians need to view people according to their spiritual age and be ready to jump in the road when it is necessary.
How do you confront an adult child, a spouse, a friend, a co-worker, a fellow Christian, or a non-Christian who is choosing to live with a sin as if it were normal or tolerable? This is the verse that I find most helpful: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3).
The only effective way to confront a person is not to confront them with your knowledge and opinions. You have to ask God for his. You have to wait for and study the Bible for God’s answer and pray for God’s leadership. God will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known but need to learn. God knows what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. In fact, God gave you his Holy Spirit so that your words could be authored and inspired by him, personally. God’s ways are great and hidden and we won’t know what to say or do unless we ask. I will even say that, most of the time, your words will be wrong—unless the Holy Spirit authors them.
You can type any question in your computer’s search engine and find Bible verses to help you. I typed “How do Christians confront sin” and found a lot of good websites and some not so good ones. You will be able to tell the difference. Stick with the Bible—it is always pure truth. God’s truth has power and your words will have influence when your opinions and motivations are godly. You aren’t ready to confront a person until you are ready to allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead you.
The key to confronting a person who is being controlled by or tolerable of sin is to realize that only God has the ability to guide that person truthfully. How does one sinner help another sinner out of quicksand? We can’t, because we are both in the middle of it. The only hope is to reach for the rope and help them do the same. But if you care about them, you won’t allow them to sink. If you love them, you will risk yourself to save them.
Who do you need to begin to pray about right now? Who did God bring to your mind as you read this blog post? Pray to God on their behalf. His answers are great and hidden but all you have to do is “call to him.” God has promised to answer. God loves the sinner, but he wants them saved from the middle of the street. He needs some spiritual adults to be ready to jump into action and help when necessary. Are you able and willing to volunteer?
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: How does your family handle significant or difficult discussions?