If You Were Caught In A Sin …

Would it be more helpful to you if the one who caught you came to you privately to talk to you about it, and put an arm around your shoulder, and offered to pray with you about it and shared a weakness of his/her own and asked you if you both could be accountable to each other before God about the sins that challenge you both … or would it be more helpful to you if that person went to your boss, your dean, your spouse, your minister, or your elders and told them what you had done?

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” ~ Matthew 18:15-20

Before you respond with 1 Corinthians 5, let me concede that God can and often does make good results come of wickedness exposed for what it is.

Look what He did with a crucifixion.

Then consider the possibility that a single sin observed does not necessarily indicate a life proudly steeped in its stink and still calling itself Christlike – the kind of situation that Paul is dealing with in Corinth.

Then return to my original question: If you were caught in a sin … how would you want to be treated?

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. ~ Galatians 6:1-5

No, there’s no excuse for not following the directions. It’s not acceptable to say, “I’m not spiritual, so it’s the job of someone else to restore gently.” You’re a child of God if you’ve received His grace and His Spirit lives in you: you’re spiritual.

It’s not acceptable to say “I’m justified in judging this person because I haven’t committed that sin.” That’s comparing one’s self to someone else – when neither of you is sinless.

It’s not acceptable to say, “I wasn’t sinned against; it was himself/herself/the church/God that was sinned against.” If you are a part of that person’s church family, the sin brings reproach upon the family name of your Savior.

It’s not acceptable to say, “I don’t know what to do; I’ll just turn it over to someone else.”

Jesus told his followers what to do (above). He gave us step-by-step instructions on the matter because He knows exactly what we need and He knows this is the only way that works.

If we love the other person as a fellow sinner, we fully follow the steps in the order that they are given, as necessary. How we would want to be treated if caught in a sin is going to be how others want to be treated, too. That’s not a guarantee that pursuing it will immediately yield a melted and penitent heart – which is why there is more than one step to the process. Even loving, respectful confrontation may well lead to anger, denial, hateful words, accusations, or worse.

If Jesus had never outlined the steps, we should have known them in our hearts – because we know how we ourselves would want to be approached when guilty. (Not that anyone of us would really want to be approached about it at all!)

And if for no other reason than the golden rule (what I believe to be the “law of Christ”), then we owe it to each other – in view of God’s grace through Christ – to take the steps.

In order.

Not skipping any.

Humbly.

Cautiously.

Prayerfully.

Spiritually.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “If You Were Caught In A Sin …

  1. Keith it may be that you missed a few points of concern to those of us who read your posts, and you could have left us with a few questions. Please allow me.“If you were caught in a sin” Keith, what kind of sin gives us the right to confront a brother or sister with it, is it a big sin or just a little sin, or is sin, sin?Maybe the passage in Matthew, which you quoted could shed some light.“If your brother sins against you” it might be becoming more clear just what sins we have the right to confront one with. It does not say if a brother sins against God, or even another brother. It said against “you”. I believe there is a little clause in “God’s Law” about judging one another.I have heard you, I do believe, say none are sinless, how do we decide which sins are so severe they demand our attention. Do we need to confess our own sins to this person before we call his to his attention. (that might take some time)You bring up Paul’s decision on Corinth, as we see in many of his writings, Paul was not one to adhere to the adage, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” . Quote Paul “I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.” (without having personal knowledge, I assume)Keith I am just asking where is the line on “Judging sin” I just don’t know, so I will leave that to someone better qualified. I could have written more, but this is probably to much.

  2. laymond, I’ll try to take your questions to the best of my imperfect ability, one at a time. As a prelude, let me just say that I view Jesus’ words as instructions to help each other deal with sin – not laws with loopholes formed by wording.<>Keith, what kind of sin gives us the right to confront a brother or sister with it, is it a big sin or just a little sin, or is sin, sin?<> and <>I have heard you, I do believe, say none are sinless, how do we decide which sins are so severe they demand our attention. <> What kind of sin would it have to be to not offend God, stain the life of the sinner and drive a wedge between them? And if you know that someone has seen you commit it, doesn’t that already separate you from that person, too? What sin doesn’t demand our attention – in our own lives, or when we see them in the lives of others?<>Maybe the passage in Matthew, which you quoted could shed some light. “If your brother sins against you” it might be becoming more clear just what sins we have the right to confront one with. It does not say if a brother sins against God, or even another brother. It said against “you”.<> I disagree, for the reasons I stated in the post. Did David sin against God, and God only, as he said in his < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm%2051&version=31" REL="nofollow">Psalm 51<>, or did he not also sin against Uriah (whom he had murdered), Bathsheba, his family, and the whole nation he led?<>I believe there is a little clause in “God’s Law” about judging one another.<> There is, but it obviously does not prevent judging for ourselves what is right (< HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=12&verse=57&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">Luke 12:57<>; < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=51&chapter=4&verse=19&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">Acts 4:19<>; < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=53&chapter=10&verse=15&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">1 Cor. 10:15<>) – or loving another whom we have seen in sin. That’s discernment, not judging another person’s soul or character or eternal destination. We should leave judging up to Him; He is infinitely better qualified for it – because He knows the heart.<>Paul was not one to adhere to the adage, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.<> Yet he was no heretic. He loved the people in the churches he wrote to – many of them brought to Christ by him – and did not want them to fall back into their old lives. Did he have no “right” as you call it to correct them? I agree, we don’t have the full story of what some Corinthians told Paul was happening there – but it is obvious that he knew there was sin and there were people acting like it wasn’t. There was incest and adultery, and no corrective action was being taken. Worse, the church was just accepting all of this as if it were nothing to correct.<>Keith I am just asking where is the line on “Judging sin” I just don’t know, so I will leave that to someone better qualified.<> I don’t always know when to judge, either, bro – but when it comes to sin, like < HREF="http://library.findlaw.com/2003/May/15/132747.html" REL="nofollow">Justice Potter Stewart<> said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” I think our timidness at dealing with sin in others is because we know deep down that we’re tempted by it too – and as Paul points out to the Galatians, we have to watch ourselves. Self-pride and self-righteousness can ruin the attempt to help another. Often the person who is best qualified to help is the one who has been there before, and that’s why I recommended confession with that other person to put both on a level playing field – so that one does not have something to hold over the other’s head. it shows a willingness on the part of the one who has witnessed the sin to be vulnerable, transparent – and forgiving!<>Do we need to confess our own sins to this person before we call his to his attention. (that might take some time)<> If we shared all of them, it sure would! I’d say it’d be sufficient to communicate to the one caught in sin, “I’ve been sucked into that sin before, too (or one that does just as much damage). Believe me – you don’t want to go there!”

  3. What do you do if you are unjustly rebuked by the pastor and elders even when you know you did the right thing? I am in that situation now. I spoke out against a request to do something wrong. It seems like they want to push me out of the church.

  4. Have you explained to your church leaders the reason you felt you have done the right thing? “Go and show him” are the operative verbs in Jesus’ instruction.Do others agree with you? After you have gone to your leaders, if they do not listen to you, will they accompany you to establish the matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses?If they still do not listen and you are convinced that what they propose is wrong, are you willing to find a new church home?I know those are hard questions, but – knowing no more about it than what you have shared – that sounds like the position your church leaders have put you in.

  5. what if it is an unjust rebuke – should you submit to it? The pastor doesnt want to discuss any more.I do not wish to involve other people because it is tedious and also then it becomes “divisive” and they can use “a divisive man warn once… then shun.”.In the past when I have felt something was true, relevant and aligned with the Word, I would write it in a letter to the pastor and elders, or meet with the pastor. Unfortunately they took it as criticism “critical spirit” and it is all added against me.they do not want me to “tell it to the church” as in matt 18.I do not wish to “leave quietly”. Then I will have internal wounds which may take decades to heal.I am thinking of standing outside the church with a picket sign stating my case, before each service. Of course, I do not want to get arrested.the details may bore you if I were to forward the emails etc. but suffice it to say, there was no ‘sin’ involved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s