We have been studying 1 John in Sunday school for the past several weeks. It is filled with great truth about false prophets. This got me thinking. There are not just false teachings in the world, but often the church as well. This is not a new phenomenon either. Read Paul’s letters to the churches. It is quite easy for the opinions of the world to creep in to the teachings of the church. The lines of sin become grey instead of black and white. Would we rather be politically correct or Biblically accurate? Too often, the church takes the silent approach to the touchy issue of sin. Do you wonder why? I asked myself this. Do I avoid addressing sin in my own life? In other’s lives?
In our culture, the verse most people know is Matthew 7:1, “‘Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.'” This verse begins a section where Jesus says that we need to have our own lives right before we try to address the sin in another person’s life. Believers, like the world, have taken this passage out of context. The world thinks it means they can sin all they want, and no one has the right to say anything about it. Christians take it to mean that they cannot help guide someone else because they are not perfect. In both instances, Satan wins. People seem to overlook the end of verse five which says, “…then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” The implication is that we will take the speck out of our brother’s eye. The stipulation comes at the beginning of verse five, however: “Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye…” There is quite a difference between a log and a speck. We must remove the sin from our own lives before we can approach anyone else about theirs. Known sin turns us in to hypocrites. Our sin is not hidden. It is a log protruding from our eye; very noticeable to the world around us. Believers will never be perfect here on earth, but we have to live lives that are free from known sin. We cannot have lifestyles that include drunkenness, adultery, premarital sex, gambling, cursing, gossip, or any other habitual sin. We are to strive to be holy as Christ is holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
As followers of Jesus, we are required, too, to tell the world about Him. That includes showing them their sin. How can someone put their faith and trust in the Gospel if they do not understand their sin? We are also supposed to help correct our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are a part of the body of Christ together. Now, this has also been taken out of context by some. It is not a license to shame someone else. That is where Matthew 7:1 comes in. We do not have the right to look down on others or consider them less than ourselves. That is a sin. We are instead called to love everyone, and out of that love comes a desire to see them grow in Christ. That love compels us to help guide our fellow believers and share the Good News with the lost. James 5:19 says, “My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, he should know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.” Do you see the power in that verse? Do you see the call to action? We have the ability, through Christ, to save lives! Romans 10:13-15 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How welcome are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” We must physically tell people about Christ and give them the opportunity to respond to the Gospel! The word preacher in this passage does not mean your pastor, but every believer. Scripture is clear that those who are lost will be eternally punished in Hell. We have to let them know!
If we, who are saved, know these truths, we must share them. We will be held accountable. We cannot allow the opinions of the world to cause us to sit in our homes with the curtains shut feeling guilty that we will never be perfect. We have to repent of any sin in our life, and go forth telling the world to do the same! I am afraid that we love our own sin too much to care about anyone else’s. If the lost of our community and the world are going to come to Christ, we have to get our lives right. We have to share the Gospel, and we have to help guide and correct fellow believers so that we are not lumped in the category of hypocrites. Those around us need to see that there is a difference in us, and that that difference is Christ.
This is not an easy lesson from Scripture, but it is one that is desperately needed. May the difficulty of living for Christ not cause us to not live for Him at all. I hope you are encouraged this week to further your relationship with the Lord and those around you. May you share His truth with everyone you meet no matter the cost. Blessings to you all as we seek to be the children He has called us to be.