Thursday, March 10, 2011
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't like having to apply that "seventy-times" seventy rule. In fact, I wish Peter would have never asked such a ridiculous question! (Matthew 18: 21-22-I forgive you Peter.) But, no matter how painful it is for me to be obedient to that command . . . I can never forget that the Lord applied it to my life. And what if He had given up on me, at say, sin number "seventy-six" . . .I wouldn't be here today, saved, being used for His glory. God never judged me, but He did use my sin to draw me near to Him. He allowed me to wander into deep darkness, until all I desired was to run into His arms. He used my sin to bring me to my knees, and He left me in a place where I had nowhere to look, but up. Who can say God doesn't use ALL things for good?
So, what do we do with the sinner? First and foremost, we're all sinners. We might be saved, but it doesn't mean we don't sin. Don't believe me? James 4:17 spells it out: "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." Uhm, I don't know about you, but that covers ALOT. But we, in the world, develop those "Top Sins." Those we classify as the worst of the worst. We do it so that we might feel a little better about our own sin. (We fail to forget that God said , "Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all!" James 2:10-20) In fact, we've written off some sins as just failures, problems, diseases, etc. Satan is clever! He's gotten us to whitewash sin and therefore keep the sinner from recognizing that they have a sin problem! He works to get us to deceive ourselves . . . He has an incredible success record with this tactic.
You see, there's not one person who has an "alcohol/drug addiction." We don't have spending problems, gossiping issues, character flaws, anger issues, a smoking/tobacco addiction, pornography/sex addiction, etc. We have a SIN PROBLEM. We've stopped calling it what it is. Take for example the addiction of alcohol. Today, many have decided that it's a "disease." (Claiming genetic inheritance etc. . . the only thing that has been passed down is the "sin.") Well, unless you're willing to argue with God at His throne on this one, you're wrong. There is NO place in the Bible where it is called ANYTHING other than sin! (1 Peter 4:3, Isaiah 5:27, Isaiah 5:11, Galatians 5:21, Proverbs 20:1, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 13:13-14, I could go on!) Is God wrong? I know I'm not going to tell Him that He is. (some feel they're righteous enough to) If we tell the alcoholic they have a "disease" . . . we rob them and deceive them of the TRUTH that they are a SINNER and in need of Christ. Here's the thing . . . the body, when "sinned" against will reap the consequences . . . and ineveitibly the body will become "diseased," but it's not because the person has a disease . . . it's because the person sinned . . .REPEATEDLY . . . and if they were given a knowledge of Christ and His saving grace . . . they have ultimately rejected Him. And as God has promised many times . . . In Isaiah 13:9 and in 1 Corinthians 3:17:
"God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple.
For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple."
We MUST call sin as God calls it. We cannot be deceived!
So, when we encounter others who are living in sin continually, what are we to do? . . . There's no repentance, there seems to be no hope, etc? Well, the invalid man was sitting at the side of the healing pool, and when Jesus learned that he had been an invalid for THIRTY-EIGHT years, He didn't walk up to him and SHOVE HIM IN THE POOL! He asked ONE simple question,
"Do you want to get well?"
Now, at first take, that seems like a REALLY dumb question! But the Lord is careful with His words . . . and He's showing us something. Next, the man makes EXCUSES . . . primarily that there's NO ONE to help him into the pool. Jesus, overcomes that excuse in an instant and basically says, "I AM here." He heals the man and the man takes his mat and walks away. Later, Jesus found him and told him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” Jesus called it what it was in the end. He was an invalid because of his SIN! Here's the thing, some sinners don't WANT to get well. (John 3:19) In this moment, Jesus showed many things . . . but primarily that you must WANT to be saved by the Savior. He will not FORCE you to get well, He will not demand that you love Him.
There's a well known account where Jesus addressed the sinner and how we should treat them. It was the situation of the woman caught in adultery. Most of us know this story, this lesson from Christ, but we still pick up stones. AND I have seen the sinner, the one who needs a healing touch from Jesus, be stoned . . . by (so-called) "Christians." You see, Jesus DIDN'T say, "Throw about fifty stones at her, just enough to make her feel pain and shame about her sin, and then she'll turn from her sin and live a life of righteousness." Let's get one thing straight when it comes to the sinner . . . there is NO SUCH THING as "tough love." That is a man-made concept. In this moment, Jesus wasn't offended by the SINNER . . . He was repulsed by the "religious" people. The self-righteous! Those who would ignore and cover their own sin, yet expose the sins of others! I've seen it first hand. Here's what this whole situation does to the sinner: Their heart becomes even more hardened toward Christ. They look upon "Christians" and find it obvious that God is NOT love. And they run the other direction . . . right into the hands of the enemy. Jesus came for one reason and one reason only, not to "stone" the sinner, but to "save" them.
"When Jesus heard this, he told them,
"Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do.
I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,
but those who know they are sinners." (Mark 2:17)
So, if we are His hands and feet, why are we picking up stones? Why are we skirting the issue of sin and being more tolerant of sin. Calling it a problem, a flaw, an issue, a "disease?" IT IS SIN! And the sinner is in need of a Savior!!! Why are we continually robbing them . . . deceiving them by giving them medication, self-help remedies, etc? They can only know Christ, if we LOVE continually!!!!!! (And that's the love of God, not what our world calls love.)
A very dear and wise friend told me months ago:
"It is God's job to judge, the Holy Spirit's job to teach as well as give us the power, it is Jesus' job to save, and our job to love."
Here's the sad truth: The sinner may reject Christ so many times that they encounter the "sin unto death." (1 John 5:16-17) Only God is God and it is His responsibility to work within the soul of the sinner. But, if we approach the sinner with the authority of God . . . judge and jury . . . we're not only casting stones at them, we're casting them into darkness. Our only action is to love with the love of Christ.
I don't know about you, but in the light of how God has forgiven and saved me, I can't approach other sinners with a clinched fist holding a stone. God has told me to obey His commands and leave the consequences to Him. I can't do it on my own . . . my flesh is too weak . . . but His strength is made perfect in my weakness . . . and He's given me His grace . . . which has been proven to be MORE than sufficient.
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