This sermon will affect everyone here: 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13. God's Word is very clear to tell us that we do not judge the world outside of our Faith because they do not have His wisdom and love in their hearts. They do not proclaim or give allegiance to our Savior and His ways of love.
It would be no more acceptable or reasonable than for Muslims to hold us to the Qur'an, Mormons to the Pearl of Great Price, or nonbelievers to the Atheist's Bible. We have no drive or desire to follow their ways unless we have embraced their beliefs, that is why it is of the utmost importance to show Jesus to the world through His love and acceptance first. But if you will notice in these verses, and in such an enormous summary of verses that we cannot cover them all today, God is very clear that we are to hold one another accountable in love who have proclaimed Jesus as their Savior within the church. Why is God so adamant and repetitious about our duty to uplift, correct and admonish one another within the Faith? Because we do have the Words which are True and rich in instructions for a life well lived; because we are to have a love for one another that brings concern when we see pain and destruction in their lives; because we had better be concerned when those who proclaim Christ slur and mock His Name to the world, hurting God and hurting potential believers who are watching. Sin is the number one barrier to being close to God in Fellowship, Love and Power, and it is our job to help one another build and protect the relationship that Jesus thought was important enough to die to create. Micah 3:4; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 8:6-8. If you truly love someone, is that not the ultimate motivation to help them in their sins? And the people of this world will never, and should never be the one's to correct, coach and guide us in our failures before God, because they do not have the loving motives or the Moral Wisdom from God to do so. (They are not the Light and the Salt of the world.) Instead, in most circumstances the world will usually exploit and revel in the failures and sins of the church (to disprove Its validity and justify their own sin), that is why spiritual infections must be fought from the inside. We must be the antibiotic which gives the Body power to heal within. And yet as Christians, this is probably one of our most misunderstood and abused commands within God's Word. We usually either refuse to ever give advice or correction in anything to anyone out of fear of conflict and confrontation, or guilt over your own sin (who am I to tell them?), or feeling you are not the one who is responsible or qualified to do so, or we go to the opposite extreme (and become the "RPD": the "Righteous Police Department"), addressing everyone's sin, all the time, in our self-appointed duty and gift—often over correcting and controlling others, rather than helping in love—correcting in and causing more strife and anger than healing. God's purpose in reality and practice should be that we must confront sin and help one another live for Christ. But it must be done in a humble, self-reflecting act of intimacy and love for that person, in an effort to heal and save them (knowing our own fallen hearts as we help them along). So, it is of great importance, following God's very Commands that we learn when and how to give and receive correction and guidance.
We all have moments of failure, or periods of struggle or apathy within our walk. When does one become involved in another Christian's shortcomings? If taken to the extreme, we could all constantly involve ourselves in what everyone is failing to do, or failing to do right. Here is a very Scriptural and commonsense understanding of when a believer needs to intercede on behalf of a brother or sister in Christ: 1) When innocent or ignorant actions/habits against God’s Word can hurt them or others 2) When you see someone beginning to seriously fall back and falter in their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Many Christians have slowly fallen away from Christ and their faith because no one noticed their slow descent, or no one felt the responsibility of stepping in to help them as they drowned. 1 Thessalonians 5:14. 3) When they are living in such a way as to blatantly disregard clearly stated Doctrinal Truth which could destroy their fellowship with God, ruin their Salvation that demonstrates open rebellion or disregard for God and their faith. 4) When their open sin becomes a serious threat to how others view Christ or interpret His Word. Unchecked sin within the Family can destroy the morale and courage of weaker believers as they see the mockery and flippant attitude of others. Less knowledgeable, less mature Christians may follow in their sin ignorantly as they observe blatant, seemingly accepted behavior. 5) When sin is directly hurting, offending or affecting other people—gossip and lies, infidelity, unforgiveness, bitterness and spite and any other purposeful or deceptive act against others or the church in general. These are among the most hated and strongly resisted sins God speaks of in Scriptures and must be dealt with. Titus 3:10-11. Why do we have the right to intercede at this point? What gives us authority to butt into someone else's business? Because they have proclaimed Jesus Christ as their Savior. They have given you the Scriptural right according to the Words they claim are True and applicable to them. They now represent the Savior Whom you hold dearer than anyone in the universe, and He deserves better. They may hurt or destroy the lives of other people whom they claim to love and serve in this body. And because you love them more than you fear the adversity of confrontation.
We have all been corrected in life and it never feels good. Remember first, all correction is with the hope of change, repentance and healing. It should never be the goal to simply break, reveal or humiliate the one corrected. All correction needs to be done with the right heart of love and goodwill towards the one in error, even if you have to be harsh in the correction. If you are too hurt or angry to do so, it is not your place to confront or correct. This will only compound the strife, pain and sin: 2 Timothy 2:23-26. Second, assure that you are walking right Spiritually before involving yourself in other's sins: Matthew 7:3-5. Your own shaded views in sin will affect your goals and methods in the correcting of others. Sometimes it is our own guilt that makes us want to reveal the sin in others. Sometimes it is our own anger or jealousy towards another that makes us see things differently or more severely than they are in truth. Sometimes our own justification of similar sins will cause us to minimize or overlook the same problem in others. Let God do a work in your life before you feel equipped and ready to do work in another life. Third, correction and reprimand does not always have to be in confrontation and accusation. If you see the beginnings of something sinful and out of line in a brother or sister, but it is not blatant or consciously rebellious yet, counsel them, coach them, encourage them, give advice in love; guide them as a role-model and give stories of your own failures or others. This is not always possible, but it is the best way to start” 1 Timothy 5:1-2. Fourth, correct according to Scriptures only. Do not correct or rebuke someone until you have a solid Scriptural principle behind your reasoning. Just because you do not like or agree with something, or you personally do not do something, or tradition in your "religious" setting suggests that it is wrong does not give you the right to rebuke or attack them. Be certain you are standing on the clear Written Word before you try to change another's thoughts or actions: Matthew 15:3-9. Many people have wrongly rebuked and looked down on others for empty arguments over holy days, diets, tattoos, hair color, and Bible versions, etc., breaking fellowship and unity and causing guilt, hopelessness or anger totally unnecessarily, because they had an opinion or preference that differed. Live out your convictions to the best of your ability between you and God, but do not force them on others or judge others for their differences, if it is not written in Scripture. Fifth, correct on Solid Proof (Listen to their side first), not gossip, not hearsay, not accusations, not appearances, not assumptions, not speculations. 1 Timothy 5:19; Deuteronomy 19:15-19. Correct only if someone has confessed to a sin, or you have witnessed the sin yourself (privately), or several trustworthy witnesses have been involved. False accusations and corrections can ruin reputations, families, faiths and lives. False accusations can topple ministries and split churches. False accusations can break hearts and spirits. Sixth, keep it between you and them as long as possible. Remember the goal is to heal through knowledge and repentance; the more people involved, the greater the risk of defensiveness, embarrassment, and hopelessness, judgment from others and the chance to ever clear their name. True love would want to help hide the pain and help in recovery when possible. James 5:19-20; Matthew 18:15. If one single person knows about your need to confront another in sin—who is not directly involved or affected, or is not involved through counsel sought—you have become a gossiper and sinner yourself. And asking for "prayers" for them is not a valid reason to gossip. It is easy to want acceptance and support when confronting a wrong done to you or others, but resist the desire to talk unless necessary. Keep it between you and God (He listens well). Seven, correct with authority, not apologetically. Do not be arrogant or pious, but be bold and sure, because it is not your rules they are breaking; not your Wisdom they are questioning; not a vow to you they are breaking; not your Name they are disgracing; not your mercy and love they are disregarding. Remember the precious love and sacrifice that Jesus has given for their lives and realize it is Him who they are hurting and betraying, and it is their eternal lives they are toying with in their actions. Nothing is worth throwing all of that away: Psalm 51:4; Hebrews 10:29-31. Your warning and reprimand may save them from a much Greater Wrath to come. Eight, if they will not repent, and continue in their sins, you will then have to bring other Christians into the situation: Matthew 18:16. Have witnesses to every word spoken to them; have witnesses to show agreement on God's Commands and Principles which are being broken. Nine, if they still do not repent, you must bring it to the Elders of the church for discipline: Matthew 18:17. It is at this point that a last attempt may be made; and if the person still persists in their sin, it is clearly and purposefully an open and blatant disregard for Christ and His Saving Grace, and this person must be asked to leave the fellowship of the church, and you as an individual are literally commanded to break fellowship. Matthew 18:17. Why such a seemingly harsh and cold reaction? It is not at all harsh at this point. It is God's way of protecting others Whom He loves dearly from the influence and pain of their sin. It is spiritual jail and isolation. You have not made the choice. This person has chosen their sin over God and you. There are times that strong rebuke is necessary for the sake of others and even them, especially when the sin is purposefully divisive or against the Body of Christ: Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 5:20-21. And even this far, God is using the situation in hopes of bringing them to repentance and fellowship once again: 1 Corinthians 5:4-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. Notice that even after they have been isolated from fellowship, they are to know they are loved but not in fellowship, and they need to know the door is open if they will repent. God commands that we not to allow purposeful sin and open rebellion hurt others, in and out of the church. It is our loving responsibility to one another to hold each other in the Faith—heal one another—if you are openly sinning against God after proclaiming to love and serve Him. Evaluate your heart what you really want, and get it right before you have to be confronted, too. If you must confront the sin of a brother or sister, do so properly, do so in love and hope; do so in faithfulness and boldness for Christ!
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