I have a sin problem. Let’s be honest, we all have a sin problem. It’s in our nature since the fall in the garden (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6). Certainly if you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, then your sin is forgiven. But that doesn’t give us the liberty to continue to sin, and justify it because we know we’re forgiven. That’s trampling on grace, and crucifying Jesus all over again. To live like that is to not truly understand what Jesus did on the cross, and to not truly have repented. #CheapGrace
In John 8, the Pharisees tested Jesus when they presented Him with the adulterous woman. Jesus is interrupted while teaching outside in the temple courts and the Pharisees want to see Him obey the Jewish law and permit them to stone the woman. They didn’t need Jesus’ permission, but rather wanted to see if He would contradict His teachings.
Even knowing that the law permitted Jesus to stone the woman, He challenged permissive culture, and demonstrated grace by pushing back and stating that whoever is without sin may cast the first stone. One by one, oldest first, the ashamed Pharisees dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus asks the woman “where are your accusers?” and she tells Him they’re not here. Jesus closes the interaction with “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
Jesus has a special place in his heart for sinners. That’s why He died for every single one of them; you and me included. When you read through the Gospels, the harshest words Jesus spoke were not directed at the sinners. They weren’t even directed at Satan when He was tempted (Matthew 4)…. They were directed to the Pharisees; those who were self-righteous. If I’m honest with myself, that is me sometimes… He calls the self-righteous Pharisees things like brood of vipers, hypocrites, white washed tombs, and blind guides (Matthew 23). OUCH!
We live in a broken, fallen world, with over 7 billion people living with a sin-nature. It’s easy for me to find myself looking at the sin of others and completely ignoring my own blind spots (Matthew 7), that’s why I need people who can speak into my life and hold me accountable. Sure I want to see the world live by Christian morals and ethics, but that has to start with me before I can push that expectation on anyone else.
In the Gospels, we see that Jesus is more concerned with loving people that He is with hating their sin. He certainly doesn’t affirm anyone’s sin, but He does give everyone an opportunity to be forgiven and repent, to “go and sin no more”.
Jesus was more known for loving people, than He was for hating sin. I know some of you are thinking “love the sinner, hate the sin” right? Well, I guess so… but consider this. How would you feel if someone told you they loved you but hated your identity? That’s essentially what we are saying when we throw those words out there.
Ask yourself this question: If you died right now, and a private detective did a thorough, detailed, objective investigation of your entire life. He went through your finances, what you did in your free time, interviewed your family, friends, co-workers, boss, and neighbors, looked through your Internet browser history, smartphone, books you read, and so much more… Would the investigator objectively conclude that you were someone who placed his or her faith in being a disciple of Jesus? Is there conclusive evidence?
While I don’t agree with the whole transgender “identity” issue (God does not make mistakes), homosexual lifestyles, abortion, and many other social issues, I must be careful how I engage the people around me. Am I holding stones? Or am I listening and engaging them in discussions? How about you?
We as the church (collective body of believers) haven’t exactly done a great job engaging others on these social issues. It’s become an “us vs. them” standoff rather than a discussion. Who is to blame? Probably both parties, but as followers of Jesus we should be setting the standard of love first and foremost. Instead some (not all) proclaimed Christians say hateful things, threaten violence, bomb abortion clinics, or worse use violence in the name of Jesus.
I’m not saying we should keep quiet and be pacifists, but I am suggesting that we respond as Jesus did. We don’t affirm the sin but we do love the person. Maybe then we could have some real discussion around the issue, instead of looking for ways to tear one another down. God loves all of us, even in our sin. That’s why His Son died for us (John 3:16-17).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
What would the investigator conclude about you?