The effects of sin are numerous, and are ugly, horrible, yet very serious realities that we must face everyday. Thankfully, our gracious and merciful God provided us redpetion for our sinful nature through the blood of his son, Jesus Christ.
And yet, the effects of the choices of sin seem to become even more magnified when a believer, a follower of Christ, one who has professed a personal faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, is the perpetrator.
Sadly, I face this situation now with someone I know, someone I care about.
When a fellow believer, or someone from your family, or someone who is a friend, or from your church, or in your community chooses to follow a path that is contrary to the discipleship and teachings of Christ, the Bible is very clear on how we should handle that situation.
Matthew 18:15-20 states:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
But when it comes right down to it and it’s time to confront that person in Christian love, just how should we handle it?
There’s a fine line between a group of Christians confronting (in Biblical love) another about sin, and a group of Christians attacking someone else for personal choices they don’t agree with. A very fine line.
And what if the person who is confronted doesn’t want to listen? What if that person rejects all forms of care and concern because he or she knows that their choices are wrong, and therefore doesn’t want to listen to convicting words?
Then it’s time for the next step. Then it’s time to call in the leadership of the church. And if that doesn’t work, then we face the difficult task of treating them as we would a “pagan or tax collector.”
If you’ve ever had to face this difficult task, then you know how frustrating it can be to have to look at someone you care about, someone you call friend, and have to turn away, knowing that they are blatantly choosing sin over the truth they know so well.
My Biblical side knows that Christ himself sanctioned these steps of discipline to remind the believer that Christ’s sacrifice provides the means necessary to be in the presence of God, to be in the fellowship of believers. But my human side wants to punch that believer in the face because they know better– because they are hurting not only themselves, but those around them; the people who care about them most. Is this a wrong reaction? Is this human anger or righteous anger?
What if confronting this person, even in Christian love, drives them further away from Truth?
What if expelling them from your fellowship of faith turns them off from returning to the church forever?
What if you have to stand by and watch them destroy everything that has been good because of their bad choices?
Are these questions that should concern us as followers of Christ, or is it completely the responsibility of the believer to walk away from their choices of blatant sin and return to Truth?
And personally, how should we as individuals treat this person? When I see this person, do I shake hands or offer up that face-punch I want to deliver so badly? (Yeah, yeah. I know that’s not righteous anger.)
The difficulty lies in my own nature and desire to have this person “see” what they are doing by saying, “Hey. Enough is enough. Knock it off. You’re hurting those who love you most.”
I realize that someone cannot truly be helped unless they want help. I realize that every person has to make their own decisions and choices. And I realize that our prayers will be answered, for God is sovereign. For now I’ve decided that prayer is the most powerful weapon I have to fight the sin that so tightly grips my friend, whether they want my help or not.
That’s the cool thing about prayer– no one can stop you from praying for them.
Share with me: I’ve presented many questions in this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, especially if you’ve faced a similar situation.