First, let me say that we often feel uncomfortable confronting sin in others. We know all too well our own sinfulness and our Lords command to not judge others (see Matthew 7:1). Yet we are told to…
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. -2 Timothy 4:2
We remember that God sent Jonah to preach a message of repentance to the great city of Nineveh and Jonah was at first afraid to do so because of how he might be received. However, at the end of the story, the city did repent. Still, we don’t preach God’s Word simply because we hope to see results but also because we are commanded to do so. Ezekiel 3:19 says…….
19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
We speak up because it is a sin for us to not do so, …But we should do it in love.
5 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. –Ephesians 4:15
There is no sin that is any worse in God’s eyes.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
Any sin unrepented of, can lead us down the road to eternal damnation by blocking the work of the Holy Spirit in forming faith in our heart or destroying the faith we do have. Actually, what do we really mean by that? Well, sin can’t live in the heart of the unrepentant. God tells us that He will withdraw His Holy Spirit from those caught in sin (See Romans 1:24 which is actually talking about sexual sins but can be applied to all). People don’t really go to hell for their sins but for their failure to repent and have faith in Jesus and His forgiveness. All of the sins of the world were forgiven on the cross. We call this the universal atonement; not to be confused with universal salvation whereby all are thought to be saved. Universal salvation has no basis in clear Biblical teaching.
The unrepentant is not the same as someone caught in a sin who is struggling to overcome it. Paul speaks of his own struggles with sin and overcoming it…..
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. –Romans 7:14-20
Sometimes God doesn’t give us immediate victory over sins because there’s a more important spiritual lesson or spiritual growth that he is working in us. Most often it is the strengthening of our faith. In those times we can take comfort in Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 where he appears to be caught in a sin;
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We’d like to have victory over certain harmful, guilt invoking, or painful sins in our lives. But we often make sanctification and Christian living our primary goal. Although it is important our sanctification flows from our faith and our first concern must be for our faith. Paul warns us against this when he says…..
2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. -1Corinthians 2:2
God doesn’t want us to fall away (here I cannot agree with the teaching of eternal security) and if that means He must drive us back to his love and forgiveness, to strengthen our faith, then that He must do by allowing us to experience the brokenness of sin. Matthew 12:20 reads;
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,…
Our God is patient and long-suffering on our behalf…..
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9