By Faith Ingraham
Jesus were to visit our churches, would he ignore and excuse criminal behavior because he does not want the church to suffer the embarrassment of dealing with prominent church members who are involved? Would he confront the victims and tell them they should just forgive those who have stolen their innocence, childhood, and trust?
The Bible teaches he would confront the abusers and expect that they face the consequences of their sinful lifestyle. Jesus was not afraid to confront the religious leaders while he walked upon the earth. In Matthew 23, Jesus continually rebukes the Pharisees and calls them hypocrites, blind guides, and whitewashed tombs. They looked good on the outside, but inside they were filled with evil. They wanted to kill Jesus because he did not excuse their ungodly behavior.
We live in a day of grace, and Jesus has paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can be forgiven of our sin. He lovingly offers forgiveness. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Many people in our churches today are claiming this verse as a license to sin.
Jude 4 warns about such men. “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” The rest of Jude tells of God’s condemnation of such behavior.
God’s Word tells of men who are forgiven of their sin yet still face the consequences of their actions.
David was said to be a man after God’s own heart. When he committed immorality, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. David repented and was forgiven, but he lost not only the son born of that sinful union, but three other sons as well.
Moses was forgiven for his disobedience when he smote the rock in the wilderness instead of speaking to it as God had commanded. But the consequence of his disobedience remained. He was not allowed to enter the promised land.
In the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19) we see evidence of true repentance. He did not take his forgiveness for granted. He told Jesus he would give half of his goods to the poor and he would restore four times the amount he had stolen to those he had sinned against. He accepted the consequences of his sin.
When the thief on the cross repented, Christ told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Yet, he did not take him down from the cross and eliminate the consequences of his criminal actions.
Paul told the Corinthians how we should deal with immorality within the church. Break off fellowship with those engaging in sexual immorality. This is not an unloving act, but a consequence of sinful behavior; it is done in an effort to bring the sinning believer to repentance. Notice this passage describes the immorality as “of a kind that does not occur even among pagans.” Even most criminals condemn the sexual abuse of children. Yet too often churches have excused it, and sometimes we are even proud of the fact that we can love those who commit such acts.
Faith Ingraham lives in Addison, New York. She and her husband have created Speaking the Truth in Love Ministries (http://speakingtruthinlove.org) in an effort to teach the church how to biblically deal with sexual sin.
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