We Must Answer Well: part 9
Like Jesus did not shame individuals, we should not shame individuals.
Like Jesus spoke the truth in love, we should speak the truth in love.
Like John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the truth, and like Peter and the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the truth, we should be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak the truth.
How are we to understand the truth regarding sin?
Time to Read Paul and the List of Truth
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
That’s the truth. We can find ourselves in multiple places on that list. We’re sinners. We may look at that list and try to say one sin is worse than another, but we don’t get to make that call. God says that those who practice such things are worthy of death.
What we want to do is NOT give approval to those who practice sin.
So we don’t encourage people to be arrogant, or boastful, or murderers, or to continue along a path of any sexual sin—or any other sin.
We don’t get to pass judgment.
No Partiality, No Favorites
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Unrepentant hearts are storing up the wrath of God for themselves. We should be grieved over this reality, over this truth about sin. Everyone gets one of two options here: obey the truth, or obey unrighteousness.
Better by Comparison?
If we obey the truth, does that make us a better person?
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Have we somehow earned our acceptance of salvation? No. God’s law shuts every mouth. None of us were righteous in our own doing.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
We are only justified to God as a gift through Christ. We can’t earn salvation from sin. We can’t earn forgiveness of sins.
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
God’s gift to us is not a re-do. It’s a make-new.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It is when someone is in Christ that they are dead to sin. If someone wants to stop sinning, if they want to be free from sin, they need to be in Christ.
These are the truths about sin.
These are the truths about salvation.
But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Whoa. Freed from sin, enslaved to God. So a person can’t serve sin anymore. We can’t run back and forth, serving God, serving sin, serving God, serving sin.
No. God is wanting to give us eternal life, not death, and He will put us through the process of sanctification.
If we want to serve God, we have to stop being gossips, slanderers, greedy, evil, sexually-active-outside-of-marriage people. And this is hard. Sanctification draws out inner conflict.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
While we recognize that we may sin, or may be tempted to sin, we cannot go running hand in hand with sin down the aisle, joining ourselves to sin. That’s not the attitude here. The mindset we see here is one that recognizes the wretchedness of sin and wants it removed.
How we need God’s help! That’s the truth about sin. We need help!
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
Count how many times the Spirit of God is mentioned in the section above. See how the Spirit of God acts in helping us to stop sinning. Really. I could summarize it, but I shouldn’t. Go back and look closely at what we do and what He does.
Now, let’s say we have a friend who’s trapped in or heading toward something as outwardly apparent as deviating sexual sin.
If our friend has not come to faith in Jesus, why would we expect repentance to happen without Him?
How then should we proceed? Should we bring up other sins, like lying, disobedience, etc.?
Whoa, whoa. Yes, you might get a horse to go drink from the river by mentioning how hot it is out in the sun, wouldn’t he rather go stand under the shade of that tree by the water? But can you really awaken the thirst in him that will bow his head to drink?
No. We cannot do the work of God without God.
For witnessing… God gives us the Holy Spirit. He convicts people of sin. He makes them thirsty. We should follow His lead.
For sanctification… God gives us the Holy Spirit. He convicts us of sin. He makes it wretched to us. We follow His lead.
So… if we want our friend to repent, our friend needs to encounter Jesus, the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.
Now, let’s say our friends say they do believe in Christ, but believe that He has made them (they were “born this way”) with desires to sin sexually, or perhaps a predisposition to be an alcoholic, so they might as well embrace that sin and do it.
What do we do with that?
We follow the Holy Spirit.
We encourage our friends to read Romans 1 — Romans 8. (see above)
We encourage our friends to ask themselves if they have, in fact, received the Holy Spirit and are setting their minds on things of the Spirit or on things of the flesh. Are they working out their sanctification with fear and trembling? Are they in communion with Jesus? With the Holy Spirit? With the Father?
We discuss the scriptures with them privately.
We bring them to Corinthians and Hebrews…