I think I have made it clear in my writings in the past that I won’t debate Scripture. Usually one or both parties have their mind made up and won’t be open anyway to an alternative idea, whether or not it even lines up with Scripture in context.
The reason I state that is because despite the fact that I see a great movement unfolding before our eyes and spirit, one that is realizing that to love others means to ACT in a kind and loving way no matter who the person is, no matter their beliefs, no matter how contrary their beliefs and ideology might be to the one giving the loving, there seems to be some confusion about God’s loving and our loving others in spite of real sin. The Apostle Paul made it clear that in giving love, from God’s perspective and what should be our perspective, there is no partiality!
Galatians 3:26-28, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Now the Apostle is speaking to the one demonstrating love, for we are to give it unconditionally, impartially, if we truly do belong to Christ! You cannot expect someone who has not be spiritually awakened to understand that type of love, at least to the degree that our Heavenly Father expects as commanded by Christ Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40.
The confusion seems to arise when it comes to how we are supposed to FEEL and to VIEW sin and sinfulness. Let me say this first before going any further; in all of the time I have tried to fulfill my calling as a servant and teacher, I can honestly say that I have never used the concept of Hell or the fact of sin, to try and sway someone to the Lord. I have never believed that way works; but – when it comes to sin, in my role as Pastor in the past I HAVE had to address it and yet, I have always ascribed to the truth as found in Scriptures:
1 Peter 4:8-10, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”
Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”
James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Love, true Agape, Godly love covers, or buries sin, never to be seen again, never to be brought up again. But that is talking about an independent act of sin, not overall sin or a sinful lifestyle, there is a difference, a BIG difference. We can recognize AND even help someone to overcome sin, as shown in James 5, but if we truly love we do not hold it against that person in how they are to be treated or related too. This is the area where most who try to walk in the Spirit fail; when trying to condemn the sin as anathema to God, we are not careful enough or wise enough to separate the PERSON who erred from the actual sin!! Too much of the time we condemn the person along with the sin and we have no right to condemning the person for we ALL have moments of weakness, ALL of us!!
But you can’t cover it, or forgive it, or help someone turn from “the error of his way” if you just ignore it and say in your heart and mind that it doesn’t matter. “GRACE” will take care of it. God’s grace WILL take care of it, but here is the crux of the matter, grace is not a blanket covering that allows us to just ignore our falling into temptation or sin; rather it is a power that allows us to freely rise above our desire to sin if we accept it and recognize it for the power the Lord means for us avail ourselves of. The very character of Grace, Mercy, Hope and even Forgiveness are not even needed if it wasn’t for the fact that man is sinful in nature. Why even preach or teach about these spiritual qualities if it weren’t for the stigma of sin? Human nature, without Christ IS corrupt! When a child is a toddler, you don’t have to teach them to misbehave, you have to teach and discipline them to make wise and good choices. We have seen in our society what has happened when the humanistic teaching that “all are inherently good” has ruled!
The Apostle Paul stated this in Romans 5:20-21, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Romans 6:12-15, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”
What the Apostle is saying in all of this is that now we are not dominated by sin, but that if we DO sin, it is a matter of choice and we have the power through grace to reign it in! Sin does not REIGN over us any more, it is not LORD of us, but when we DO sin, it is because of weakness and we DO have an Advocate with the Father: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 2:1. This does not make, however, the sin to have no consequence, for as I taught in the article “The Living Word – His Holiness,” back in 2016, our Heavenly Father does not abide sin for it is unholy and against His very nature. When we actively sin, we move from God, not God from us!
This is the very reason that when James was addressing the Brethren, those already walking in Christ, he was very plain to state that “wandering from the truth,” is the same as sinning for if someone turns that person back to the truth and away from sin (the very definition of repentance) that the person who accomplishes this, is demonstrating love in two ways; they are number one, saving a soul from spiritual death, for the soul, even though not the spirit, is the spiritual character of the person, their “personality” as it were; and second, covers or buries a multitude of sin! Remember, if God, our Heavenly Father doesn’t remember our sins after repentance, and as written in Psalm 103:11-12, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” What right then do we have to keep bringing up sin that even the Father doesn’t remember any more? I realize man doesn’t easily forget, but in this, by faith, we need to start practicing the real action of forgiveness to ourselves AND to others, forgetting past forgiven transgressions!
We as Christians can and often still do, as James stated, wander from the truth, in sin and according to James we are in danger of spiritual death. If we do not take holiness seriously, then we are not taking sin seriously, for holiness, the very character of God, defines what is and what isn’t sin. It is like the commandments that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time used to hold power and sway over God’s children the Hebrews. Jesus came to show the truth, that the commandments were given to show us our need for a Redeemer Who will atone for our sins because we could never keep the letter of the law ourselves.
So it is still today! Paul in Romans tells us that while our spirit was unregenerate we were slaves to sin. We couldn’t help it, were caught in our enslavement unable to make the choice as to whether we sin or follow after the will of the Father. Jesus came to make us free from the bonds of sin, the slavery that we were enslaved too. It was by His grace, wherewith we have the power to make a choice and that is why Paul states that we are no longer under the “dominion,” the rule, of sin. God’s grace gives us the power to rise above the temptation.
Consider grace like this; you are walking the pinnacles of the mountaintops which come to a very fine edge. You are going about your life as normal and to protect you from falling down into the chasm, you are wearing a parachute, grace. Grace is there IF you fall, it is not meant to be abused by willingly jumping off the edge of the precipice just because you KNOW you have the ‘chute! It is in the motive and how you use God’s freely given grace. It is there because He loves us enough, and He knows our weaknesses and how they can crop up in our “pursuit” of perfection. It is like the safety net. But when you are relying upon the ‘chute to walk carelessly or foolishly, tempting fate, then it becomes abuse!
This is why Paul also demonstrated our ability to choose to sin or not to sin when he stated to “not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The choice is yours. Do not LET it reign. He is speaking to those who have accepted Christ’s grace and are trying to walk in Christ’s Spirit.
Love is NOT just all the nice, cushy feelings that endear us to one another. True Godly Love, has also been demonstrated by Jesus when dealing with Peter, as well as James and John, the “sons of thunder” as they were nicknamed.
Matthew 16:21-23, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Mark 10:37-40, “They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
How would you feel if you were following after Jesus, had fallen truly in love with Him and clung to every word, only then to have Him say, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me?” Probably the same way Peter had felt. “What did I do? I just don’t want you to come to harm!” But Jesus was addressing the problem with Peter at that moment and He needed to use some “shock and awe” to get Peter’s attention to the real problem.
Peter thought that what he was expressing was noble, but was Peter truly willing to usurp the will of the Lord, just to save the life of His friend, when all along, it is the Father’s will that Christ give His life freely and willingly? Jesus loved Peter eternally rather than just in the moment; He knew Peter would definitely have a hurt ego, Peter was a proud man, BUT – better his ego be bruised now, than he continues in his willfulness rather than surrender to God’s will.
So it is with us today and sin. We have to love BEYOND a person’s sin and care more about them eternally than what they might feel or even think of you in the moment. I AM NOT advocating pointing out sin every time you see it or carrying placards identifying your displeasure with things you consider sin, but we cannot in this day and age be afraid to identify sin for what it is! AND, do not confuse the acts of sin with those who are preaching, teaching or living a falsehood and saying it is okay for they NEED to be identified and called out! I am also NOT advocating looking at your brothers and sisters to see if they are engaged in what you may consider to be sin!
What I am advocating is that we cannot, in the spirit of Godly Love, be afraid to speak of sin as something that WILL and does separate us from God’s glory and having an intimate relationship with Him! We can NOT be afraid to speak the truth about WHY Christ Jesus came to die and shed blood on a wooden cross! We can NOT fool ourselves into believing that if I just ignore the concept of sin, or that we all can and do fall at times, but, for love’s sake I can just act like it isn’t sin!
If you saw someone shackled against their own will for something they had no control over and you had the power to free them, wouldn’t you do all you could to help them get the shackles off? That is what we accomplish when we are not afraid to confront sin head on, free the person bound by it, point them back to the “Truth, the Way, and the Life” and then BURY the shackles!!! You don’t bring back up what shackled them once they are free.
With so much that the Holy Spirit is doing in our hearts and spirits about learning to truly love as the early church did, we must not forget that the reason we do love (in action) in the first place is to point those still bound towards the freedom that is found in the Person of Christ Jesus! We must not forget that holiness is acquired not by our actions or inactions but by the power of grace that is freely given to each to rise above and out of the shackles that did hold us.
We ARE whether we like it or not, drafted to be warriors in a spiritual battle, once we accepted to follow after the Lord’s will and surrendered our own. Warriors are not independent and individual fighters, they fight to overcome an enemy together, watching one another’s backs, helping those weak, for whatever reason, to persevere through the battle, and as warriors we advance at the behest of One Who is leading us. When one is wounded from an enemy’s arrow, we are not to kill our own wounded, but rather, we who are strong (as Apostle Paul states) are to help them up, to provide healing and comfort AND strength!
Love is the greatest offensive AND defensive weapon in our spiritual arsenal, but it is no good to us if we can’t identify the enemy WHEN necessary. We don’t have to look for an enemy behind every corner, for the enemy will make itself known sure enough! (Notice I said it and not them, remember, the fight is against sin, not against people!) The Bible assures us and PROMISES us that what is done or hid in the dark, will be brought to the light.
The world chooses not to recognize the light, by willing to be blind. Our spiritual eyes have been quickened and opened so that we can readily identify the light. Let’s not willingly choose to put blinders on just because it is hard to confront what the light reveals and all the more so when are eyes were opened at such a monumental cost!