Category Archives: Sin

Sin, Repentance and Judging Others

Some discussions just seem odd to me. One such oddity goes along these lines (and it seems to happen over and over, especially on social media, so this is not a reference to one particular discussion). Person A: “People who engage in this activity are in sin and need to repent.” (What the specific sin is differs from case to case, and it is irrelevant for this point.). Person B responds: “We shouldn’t judge others because we are all sinners who need forgiveness.”

By this response, person B sweeps away the point made by person A because we all sin and we don’t want to be judgmental of others. Now it is true that we all need forgiveness, and it is doubtful that many will deny this; no one is claiming perfection here. However, that does not negate the fact that we still need to call attention to sin and the need to repent. Recognizing that we are all guilty of sin is not a reason to think, “Therefore we should never tell anyone else that they ought to repent.”

Consider the case of Isaiah, who, overwhelmed by God’s glory, confessed his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of those around him. Upon receiving forgiveness, he was then ready to go preach to stubborn people who wouldn’t listen to the message of repentance (Isa. 6). The point is that Isaiah did not refrain from preaching about sin and repentance based upon the fact that he himself needed forgiveness.

How do we know we are all sinners who need to repent unless someone first tells us about sin and God’s will for repentance (2 Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30-31)? Shall we just assume everyone knows this before they are told? If we are all sinners who need to repent, then someone told us at some point, and this assumes an understanding of sin and repentance. Shall we not give others this same message at the risk of sounding too judgmental? Shall our fear of sounding judgmental overcome our need to love others enough to present God’s message to them? Are we showing real love if we ignore the sin, fail to point people toward repentance, and just embrace their situation no matter what? Is that the godly thing to do? Jesus didn’t die in order to silence the message of repentance. His death provides the hope that is attached to the message, and we need to be preaching it with clarity.

The gospel is about grace and forgiveness, but knowing about that grace only works when we first understand why we need grace and forgiveness. If we don’t know about the sin, we won’t know about our need to repent. If we don’t know of our need to repent, we won’t know we need grace and mercy. Again, how can someone say, “We shouldn’t judge” based on the fact that we are all sinners, unless that person first knows the problem of sin? If not careful, the “we shouldn’t judge” mantra can become a mask that veils the fullness of the gospel.

We are not being self-righteously judgmental by expressing what God has said about sin and repentance; we are being true to His word. Our message is not, “You need to repent and I never have to.” We are all indeed in the same boat. We can show the problem of sin while recognizing our own guilt and need for God. We can do this with humility and grace. We can speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Calling out sin and the need to repent is not automatically unloving and self-righteous, and we must not assume that one who calls attention to sin is being some kind of prudish, holier-than-thou hypocrite. (We could point out that Person B is, in fact, judging person A for the perceived sin of being judgmental, with the implication that he ought to repent and quit being judgmental. Is that ironically unloving and judgmental?)

Paul knew of his own sins, but that didn’t stop him from rebuking Peter (Gal. 2). Peter surely was aware of his own weaknesses, but that didn’t stop him from rebuking Simon (Acts 8). Both Paul and Peter repented of sins, but they still told others what was necessary.

Show love. Show grace. Show kindness. But don’t, for a moment, think that these are in contradiction to calling out sin for what it is and pointing people to God’s message of repentance. Yet while doing this, let’s never stop short of sharing the answer to the problem — the blood of Jesus through which we find grace and forgiveness. Repentance is not an end in itself; salvation is the goal. Our purpose in calling out sin and showing the need to repent is not to condemn, but to point the way to that relationship with Christ in which there is “no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1-2).

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19). — By Doy Moyer

The Power For Overcoming Sin

The Psalms are practical. They are down-to-earth. They are sound, realistic. As we read them we readily empathize with the writer. He speaks of things we have experienced. He expresses emotions we have felt. His approach to life is valid and authentic.

In the past two years of my life I have walked with the psalmist. I am much the better person because of it. He speaks of the God who will hear when the godly man calls unto him; and that has been my experience. He tells of his perplexity as he sees the evildoer prosper; and I have wondered about that, too. He talks of seeing the majesty and glory of God everywhere in the earth; I have seen that. He describes his hurt and anger at being slandered by both false friends and enemies; I also have some first-hand knowledge of that. But all of this is a part of life.

We do not study the Psalms. Perhaps it is because it is in the Old Testament and we feel that the Old Testament has nothing to say to us of any real application today. If so, we are greatly mistaken. In this column, I wish to share my thoughts and conclusions drawn from the study of this book. It is my hope and prayer that in your reading these things you, too, will become better because of it.

One of the great exhortations I have gathered from the Psalms is found in chapter four, verse four: “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (ASV). Here are two vital rules to follow in overcoming sin:

Be afraid of it. “Stand in awe.” It is not entirely clear from the original word, raghaz, whether it means “to tremble” or “to be angry.” The Greek version of the Old Testament translates it with the idea of anger, and Paul evidently used this version in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and sin not,” showing that a Christian can express righteous indignation without being angry in a carnal way.

However, it seems that “stand in awe” or “tremble” tremble” is a proper rendering in this psalm. Also, it is possible that the idea is that we are to stand in awe of God. This is certainly found frequently in other places.

But, I believe that the writer is saying that we are to stand in awe of sin, for to do so is at one and the same time to fear the God who tells us of sin’s dreadful power. We must cultivate the fear of sin. There is no cowardice in being afraid of sin. Paul says, “Flee fornication.” That is one sin you do not argue with. You either do what it says or you get out of its way. Joseph was not a coward, but a brave man, when he said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” All sin is against God. To stand in awe of sin is to get out of its way, and it is to tremble at the feet of the Holy God.

So we must fear sin—not only because it is against God, but because it is against ourselves. Man is made in the image of God. Sin breaks the inward law of man’s nature. It defaces God’s image in me. It destroys my power to know and obey God. God is severe against sin in the Bible because sin is severe against man in life. Sin destroys us, and God knows it. He wants us to be all that we can be, all that we were made to be—a little lower than the angels, the offspring of God, made in His image. God created man great and noble, holy and pure. We must fear sin lest we ruin ourselves. “A ruined hut is no great matter, but a palace in ruins is a woeful spectacle.”

Be introspective. “Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” Reflect upon what you do. Do not act rashly. A thinking man is a wise man.

I have spent some time in the quiet hours of the night, reflecting upon the course of my life—my actions, my decisions, my faults. This is good. We all need to do it more. Is my course of conduct base and reprehensible? Or is it good and pure? Listen to your conscience; don’t sear it. Consider your ways.

We think too little of sin. We do not contemplate its terrible tragedy. We do not consider its frightful consequences. And while we are upon our bed, in our moments of serene reflection and serious contemplation, we must think about it! We need to let reason speak and allow the clamor of the world to be still for awhile. And while we are thinking, let us think of what sin has cost: the blood of the Son of God. He was made to be sin for us. By His stripes we are healed. If thinking upon the cross does not persuade us to “stand in awe, and sin not”—nothing will.

Two things, then, I need to do. Be afraid of sin. Be introspective. In so doing, I will, with David, glorify God “when I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches.”

— By Brent Lewis, The Psalms in Practice (Vol. 1), Christianity Mag., Vol. 1, No.1

Overcoming The Adversary With Jesus

Mark 3:20-35; Col 1:27. Most of us can hardly imagine what it would be like to live in a hostile land, surrounded by danger and death. But as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we live in enemy territory (John 12:31-32; Heb 2:14-15; 2 Cor 4:4; 1 John 5:19; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Eph 6:12; 1 John 3:8).

I. WE ARE IN A WAR (Mark 3:20-28)

A. We can win (Rom 8:37; Col 1:27)
B. We can lose (1 John 2:15-17; Jas 1:14-16)
C. We need help (Col 1:13-14; Acts 2:38; Col 2:12-13; 1 John 1:9)

II. THERE IS AN ETERNAL SIN (Mark 3:28-30)

A. Rejecting the Spirit in Jesus (John 3:34-36)
B. Rejecting the Spirit of Scripture (John 16:13; 2 Tim 3:16-17)
C. Remaining in ignorance (1 Tim 1:12-16; Zech 13:2; Matt 12:28)

III. JESUS HAS A FAMILY (Mark 3:30-35)

A. Inclusive: “Whoever”
B. Exclusive: “Whoever does the will of God”

Satan is real (1 Pet 5:8); Judgment is certain (2 Tim 4:1); Victory is near (Matt 25:41; 1 Cor 15:55-57)

Saved Like Naaman

Naaman had a serious need that he could not take care of himself (2 Kings 5:10-14). He was a leper. Leprosy was a terrible disease that had dreadful effects. Surely if Naaman could have relieved himself of this problem he would have done it.

He heard some good news! His wife’s Hebrew maid told them of a prophet in Israel that could help. So off he went to seek help from the Israelites of all people, the enemy. After a brief interlude with the King of Israel, a messenger was sent from one of God’s prophets, telling Naaman: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). God was the only one who could take care of his need.

Sadly, this leper was at first unwilling to put away his pride and just submit to the clear instructions that had been given him. Looking to his own wisdom, he questioned why it had to be done that way (v. 11). He wondered why “water” would have to be part of the plan. If he did have to wash in water, why would it have to be the waters of the Jordan River?

Eventually, Naaman was persuaded to be humble enough to submit to the very simple instructions that had been given through the messenger of God (v. 13). “So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (v. 14).

Naaman was saved by grace through faith. Grace is “unmerited favor.” No one of sound mind would conclude that this leper “merited” his cleansing by performing a good work about which he could boast. His cleansing was not of himself (didn’t come from his own power). It was the gift of God. This, no one can doubt.

The case of the sinner:

We have a serious need that we cannot take care of by ourselves. We are sinners. Sin is likened in Scripture to a terrible disease and it has dreadful effects (Psalms 38; Matthew 9:11-12). Surely, if we could relieve ourselves of this problem we would do it.

We’ve heard the gospel (“good news”)!  A messenger (Ananias) was sent from one of God’s men telling Saul of Tarsus: “Go and wash!” Acts 22:16 says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” God is the only one (through the blood of Jesus) who can provide for our need.

Sadly, some are unwilling to put away their pride and just submit to the clear instructions. Looking to their own wisdom, they question why it has to be done that way. They wonder why water would have to be part of the plan.

Others are humble enough to submit to the very simple instructions that have been given through the messengers of God. What was Saul’s response when he was instructed to “arise and be baptized, and wash…”? “He arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).

Sinners are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). No one of sound mind would conclude that this sinner (Saul) merited his cleansing by performing a good work about which he could boast. His cleansing was not himself (of his own power). It was the gift of God. This, no one should doubt.

By Mike Pittman

Early Training in Salvation

Salvation is a central truth in Scripture (Matt 1:21; Heb 5:9), but can our children explain it (cf. Rom 3:25; Matt 20:28; Eph 5:23)? Salvation is at the center off all we do as Christians; it is the theme of the Bible. Talk to your children early and often about salvation (Deut 6:7).

I. BAD NEWS: SIN

A. Disobedience (Gen 3:1-6)
B. Lawlessness (1 John 3:4)
1. Breaking God’s rules
2. Making up your own rules
C. Iniquity (Isa 59:1-2)

II. SAD NEWS: RESULTS OF SIN

A. Spiritual death (Rom 6:23)
B. Satan’s hell (Luke 12:5)
C. God’s rejection (Gen 3:24)

III. GOOD NEWS: GOD’S GIFT FOR SINNERS

A. Eternal life (Rom 6:23)
B. God’s presence (Luke 15:20-24; Rev 19:7-9; John 14:1-3)
C. Free gift (Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8; 1 Pet 2:24-27)
D. Obediently accepted (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet 3:21)

IV. APPLICATION: SALVATION MOTIVATION

A. Not human perfection (1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:9; Eph 2:4-6)
B. Fear of Hell (Matt 25:45-46; Matt 25:30)
C. Love of God (John 3:16; Rom 5:8-9)
1. Pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46)
2. Granted to few (Matt 22:14)

Salvation is God’s will for everyone, but first He will honor the sacrifice of His Son that purchased our right to receive salvation (2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4). If we will honor the Son, the Father will honor us!