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.
7 responses to “Enough Is Enough…Or Is It?”
Many amazing questions. My pastor gave an amazing sermon on this a few months back and how that last step – casting them from fellowship – is exactly how God deals with hardened hearts. He gives us over to our sin. With the hope that sin leads to brokenness and brokenness will lead to a genuine repentance and a beautiful homecoming. It's tough stuff, Jenny. Tough, tough stuff.
Jenny, having gone through a "prodigal experience" in my own life, I can see where you are coming from and they are very good questions. You love your friend, hate to see them in a destructive situation, but are afraid that associating with them gives them a greenlight to do what they are doing. I can say from personal experience that when the person-especially if they grew up in the fear of the Lord-is in the midst of the problem, "confronting in Christian Love" can feel like judgement, or a personal attack, and in my case, they drove me further into my relationship, because there I received no judgement, no criticism. I knew better, I knew he was wrong, but I just didn't care. But my best friend prayed for me and loved me through it all, and in that silence I heard the still small voice that reminded who I was and whose I am. It's still hard because I still love this man a great deal, but I know that I'm doing the right thing. But I also know there are some situations where separation is necessary. But prayer and love never hurt anybody.
Just be careful of casting the first stone. Pray and allow God to work; His timing is different than ours.
Scripture is very clear on the steps to take with a brother/sister that has fallen into willful sin. When and if you reach the point of rejection after the congregation is involved then the brother/sister relationship is lost…but if they have continually rejected counsel then the relationship has actually already been lost. Their way of life will not line up with yours as a believer anyway. A true grieving process for all involved. I agree that prayer is a powerful weapon. As you have already been praying for this individual to "come to their senses" about their choices…If they continue on their path of rejection and reach the point of church discipline that requires treating them as an unbeliever then so I believe your prayers for that individual change also. Now that he/she are pursuing another lifestyle I believe we should continue to pray but in a different way. Was this individual really saved? Pray for their salvation. Seek through your witness to show God's truth! God is God and we never know how he is working in that person's life. If you come in contact with that individual I would be myself…show Christ love…but you are not to enter a close relationship or fellowship with them. A really hard spot to be for sure!Pamela Randall
Hi Jennifer! I'm sorry you're going through this situation. I had a recent situation. My close friend was marrying a non-believer. My heart ached, truly. I confronted her and told her how I felt, what the Bible says, and gave her scenarios of what could happen in the future. Still, she didn't care. Now they're married. All I can do now is love her. But believe me, I wanted to shake her shoulders and be like, "No! Besides your salvation, THIS is the most important decision of your life!" Sometimes, people don't want to listen. And they have to sadly, learn the hard way through life's experiences.And usually, those painful experiences, bring them back to their knees, and back to God. I would do all I can to help your friend, in love, because the Bible says that if we see a brother on the path of destruction we should try and save them. Saying things like, "I love you, I care for you, Just want the best for you". Rather than taking a condemning voice. Because it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance.If someone was walking into a burning house, we would run as fast as we could and say, "Don't go in there!" If they ignore you, sadly, they will get burned, and carry the scars :(. After that, like you said, we have to simply step back, and just love.I'll pray for you! 🙂
Thanks for your comments everyone! It really is a very delicate situation…difficult for everyone. I feel a Biblical responsibility to talk to this person, but I know that at this point, it probably wouldn't do any good. Plus, I really don't want to be the cause of pushing my friend even father away from the Truth that she was raised with. I would rather be supportive than condemning, but I can't support her decisions right now. Pray for this person's family- they are the ones suffering the most, unfortunately.
I do not know the situation with your friend, but just because she is stepping out of a zone you are comfortable with and into one that you are not doesn't mean she's turned her back on "the Truth she was raised with". I mean, if she is doing drugs or something else illegal, that is one thing. She needs to be "helped". But, if she's just decided that the life she was living was not to her satisfaction and made some changes, I would not think she needs "help", per se, but maybe just a friend. I understand that as a Christian, it is your duty to gather lost members of the flock, but you do not really know what is in her heart. Maybe she is not as far away from the flock as you think. I do this anonymously because I am pretty sure I know which friend you speak of, and I do not want to further call her out in what may be a difficult time for her. I admire you for feeling like you need to take responsibility to help a friend, I honestly do…but I think (and again, I don't know the whole situation) you might be over thinking this just a bit. I agree with some of the above commenters. If you shove "the Truth she was raised with" in her face as a reason to change her behavior, you may push her further away from you…and the Truth.