Friday, June 16, 2017


I have noticed that young, seeker-sensitive churches are very encouraging and affirming, as they should be. After all, the Gospel is very encouraging and affirming. However, it is also convicting. Consequently, if we are to be faithful to our Lord, we too must correct and call our brethren to repentance (Luke 13:1-5; see the letters to the churches; Revelation 2 and 3). Many verses require this of us:

·       My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20; also Galatians 6:1-3; Matthew 18:15-19)

When the leadership of Church fails to address the sins in its midst, it allows the leaven of sin to undermine the entire loaf of the Body of Christ (Galatians 5:9). It also brings guilt upon us all.

Early on, God taught Israel that they were to be their brothers’ keepers. If one sinned, it would be as if all had sinned, and all would have to pay the price. God had instructed Israel that they could not take any valuables out of Jericho after they had defeated it. However, Achan secretly took some valuables. As a result, the nation of Israel was defeated in their next battle at Ai. Joshua was devastated. God had assured him that no one would be able to stand against Israel. However, the Lord subsequently revealed:

·       “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies… I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” (Joshua 7:11-12)

Although it was just one man who sinned, God stated that “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed…” Consequently, all Israel had to pay the price for Achan’s sin. This was a truth that God would reinforce throughout Israel’s history.

Later, King Jehoshaphat warned the priests to not sin against the Lord, lest His wrath come down upon the entire nation:

·       “Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart: whenever a case comes to you from your brothers who live in their cities, concerning bloodshed, law or commandment, statutes or rules, then you shall warn them, that they may not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath may not come upon you and your brothers. Thus you shall do, and you will not incur guilt. (2 Chronicles 19:8-10)

The Prophets of Israel were required to speak the Word of God to expose sin. Ezekiel was warned that if he failed to do this, the wrath of God would also fall upon him:

·       “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6-8)

Christ had explained to the churches that they too are watchmen who are accountable for the Word of God. He criticized the Church at Thyatira for not confronting the false teacher Jezebel:

·       “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20)

Love and faithfulness require us to warn about the corrosive effects of sin and the effects that unfaithfulness has upon the Body of Christ. We too are called upon to be watchmen over the spiritual health of our brethren. It seems that the Church of Corinth had been boasting about their spiritual success. This had made them too proud to take notice of the sin’s leavening power. They had been tolerating adultery in their midst. Therefore, Paul warned:

·       Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6)

Sin that is allowed to continue will undermine the spiritual health of the entire church. Therefore, love is not just a matter of what feels good. It is also a matter of what is good, especially in God’s sight.

This doesn’t mean that we have to confront sin the moment that we see it or in a harsh and impatient manner. Instead, the leadership is instructed to correct with gentleness and patience:

·       And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

When the Church fails to warn and correct, the Church also fails to walk in love and faithfulness to our God to its great detriment.

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