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Confusion of Public Sin

December 27th, 2014

Heb 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

One of the primary characteristics of sin is the deception that is coupled with it. When sin is introduced in our lives, deception is often a close counterpart. In the account of the first sin in Genesis 3, Satan used deception in order to achieve the goal of Adam and Eve sinning against God.

Gen 3:4 “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”

1Ti 2:14 “… but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

We often allow ourselves to be deceived in order to commit sin. When sin is accomplished, our judgment remains skewed as we continue in our slumber and the fog of deception. The deceit continues as we justify our actions and give reasons that excuse our deeds. Only repentance and humility can wake us up from sin’s deceit.

When Sin Becomes Public

When sin takes place in the body of Christ and many are affected by it, deception is still at work as sin’s companion. Not only are the effects of sin proliferated throughout the church, but deceit and deception are also broadcast corporately as seeds spreading throughout the body.

One of the greatest forms of human evil is scapegoating. Scapegoating occurs when sin occurs in the church and then the one who has sinned accuses others as being the true culprits (often for not “treating them right” while addressing their sin). This is the height of human evil. This scapegoating defense introduces confusion into the body. The true aggressor acts as the victim. The offender pretends to be the offended. The accuser becomes the accused. The stronger becomes the weaker. This deception is part of the wickedness that accompanies sin (see Christian author Scott Peck’s bestselling book “People of the Lie”).

When scapegoating occurs, it brings confusion to those who have been knit together in their hearts with the guilty party. Those who have soul ties with the sinning party are easily swayed. We feel compassion for the wounded, we root for the underdog. But in the case of scapegoating, the wound is misdirection. It is an attempt to distract and divert attention away from the sin of the sinner.  We must obey God during times of public sin. We must hold fast to the scriptures and not the feelings of men.

If someone sins and then shifts over to play the role of the weak and damaged victim – it is so bizarre that it short circuits our normal thinking processes.  Confusion is the result. Confusion in the church is one of the enemy’s schemes and is the result of evil. We must judge with righteous judgment and discern accurately the matter at hand.

There are several accounts of how we are to respond to sin in the church once it has become a public matter. In all accounts, we are not to place relationships with people higher than relationship with God. We must not allow our feelings of love to overtake God’s truth. It is not loving the person who committed sin to join with them in their scapegoating. It is our fleshly feelings of love that would do this.

After Matt. 18 has been accomplished (if applicable) and the sinner has been warned repeatedly, it is our responsibility to turn away from those who are walking in unrepentant sin – no matter how close we are to them or how much we love them. Turning away is an act of love during unrepentant sin.

Maintaining relationship with the unrepentant Christian only strengthens the sinning brother’s position. Continued fellowship speaks to them that it is OK that they are walking in darkness. The darkness they are in will also affect you in a negative way.

2Th 3:6, 14-15 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. … If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Although the context of the above passage is in regards to a brother who is not working and living undisciplined, we can see that the church is to respond to this sin by not associating with this brother. The purpose of this is to shame him. Not having fellowship with an unrepentant brother is putting him to shame. He is not an enemy. But the shaming action allows him to sit alone and face the consequences of his sin.

There is a huge personal cost to us to stop associating with a brother who is walking in sin. We lose the benefits of the relationship we are used to receiving. Yet, we must not associate with them in order to love them. It is not rejection, it is love. We must lay down our lives and our feelings in order to shame, to shun, and to love.

Remaining Neutral is Unrighteousness

Jhn 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

God does not allow us to stay on the fence concerning areas of truth that are plainly addressed in scripture.

Rev 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.

Matt. 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.

We do not have the humanistic luxury of remaining neutral regarding issues of sin; whether it is sin in our own lives or in the lives of others we are walking with. Truth is always extreme. Truth divides everything that is not of that truth. Christianity is intolerant. You cannot be 99% obedient. You are either obedient or you are not obedient. There is no such thing as a partial bird or a partial fish. Something that is 99% gold is called an alloy, it is not pure gold.

Truth separates that which is of the truth and that which is not of the truth. There is no neutrality with truth. If you are neutral, you are not in the truth.

Mat 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”

We all can sin, but if we do not acknowledge and turn from our sin, we are walking in sin. If someone is unrepentant and will not acknowledge their sin and continues to walk in it, we must call it what it is and respond to it biblically. This is righteousness.

Mat 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

1Co 5:11-13 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?  But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

Tit 3:10 “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning,”

If there is unrepentant sin in the church, you are obligated to call it sin and then respond and relate to that person according to the scripture. If you refuse, then you are joining yourself to that which is unholy. You are continuing an unholy alliance that is propagating darkness in the life of the unrepentant brother and in your own life.

Maintaining Our Lampstand – Quality in the Church

Rev 2:5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.

To adhere to scripture in relation to sin is not a new legalism among us but it is raising up a standard for those that are unrepentant and walking in sin. Pruning is God’s way of growth.  Those who cannot submit to the narrowness of truth water down what God is doing in our midst. These are taken out of the way in order that we may bear more fruit. God is continually refining and increasing the quality among us via truth and removing those who will not submit to truth.

An Excellent Article on Hearing Only One Side of a Story

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