Draw the attention of each one to his sins that so you may save his soul.
- Rule of Ciarán, Irish, 8th century
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.”
- John 15.22
Jesus had no problem pointing out people’s sins. Indeed, I think we could say He excelled at doing so. And that was one of the primary reasons certain people hated Him enough to kill Him. People who are living in sin don’t like to be told as much.
Not then, not today.
Jesus did not come to condemn the world, as He said, but to save it, at least, as many as will be saved. But a crucial element of that salvation strategy was pointing out people’s sins, causing them to see that they were living in disobedience to the Law of God.
This may not seem like pleasant work; but someone’s got to do it.
Unless we confront sin, there will be no confession of it; without the confession of sin, there will be no repentance. Without repentance, no faith, and without faith, there is no salvation.
We need to face up to the sin in our own lives, and practice daily confession and repentance. Failure to do so means our sins will mount, our prayers will be hindered, and we’ll have no real fellowship with the Lord (1 Jn.2.8-10; Ps. 66.18; Is. 59.1, 2).
Further, we must be ready and willing to confront sin among our fellow believers, and call them back to the path of the Lord (cf. Gal. 2.11-21).
It’s difficult to understand why the Church today is so reluctant to talk about sin. Yes, talking about sin can be offensive to some people. Some folks will become upset, and some might even go to other churches if we keep insisting that people face up to their sins and be done with them.
But should that matter? Do we think we have somehow evolved beyond sin? Do we think we can build our churches into the holy temples and houses of prayer God intends them to be, so long as we fail to deal with sin? If so, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1.8). Worse, by thinking we have no sin, or at least, by refusing to face up to it, we call God a liar, because He insists that all have sinned (1 Jn. 1.10; Rom. 3.23).
Are we concerned that it’s somehow not polite to point out people’s sins? Jesus didn’t think so. Are you prepared to say to Jesus that He is impolite? Of course, we must always speak the truth in love, and make sure any logs in our eyes are dealt with before we go pointing out the splinters in the eyes of others. But sin is so hateful to God, that if we choose to ignore or merely tolerate it, it will poison every aspect of our lives and, ultimately, dampen the fires of love for God.
Perhaps we know better than He? The sorry state of the American Church – the lack of spiritual depth, the many compromises with worldliness, our failure of mission, or inability to make disciples, our indifference to oneness in the Spirit, and more – can be tied to our refusal to deal with sin as we should. After all, why change if there’s nothing wrong?
Are we content to be a Church without salvation or growth? Because it’s just possible that this is what we’re becoming. And if not, then we shall have to take up the question of sin once again, beginning in our own lives.
But that means we’ll also have to take up the Law of God, because, as Paul pointed out, only through the Law of God is the knowledge of sin (Rom. 7.7). No Law, no sin; no sin, no salvation, or no growth in the Lord, whether for individuals or churches.
Let the light of God’s Law shine on your sin, and you will be amazed to see that, at the same time, it illuminates the path of revival, renewal, awakening, and full and abundant life in Jesus Christ (Lev. 18.1-5).
Then let that Law – swathed in the love of Jesus – reach through you to others with grace to edify, even if that means confronting sin, and you’ll be equally amazed at what you might see (cf. Mic. 4.1-8).
1. Why are Christians today so complacent toward the matter of sin?
2. How would you counsel new believers to deal with any sins the Spirit discovers in their lives?
Psalm 32.3-6 (Hendon: Take My Life and Let It Be)
When in silence I remained, groaning in my sinful pain,
You Your hand upon me lay; all my strength You drained away,
all my strength You drained away.
I confessed my sin to You; You forgave me, ever true!
Let confession’s pleading sound reach You while You may be found,
reach You while You may be found!
Lord, show me my sin, so that I might face up to it, repent, and …
The Disciplined Life
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.