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Talking About Sin

Why does it seem like the topic of sin is a lost doctrine?

It seems like there is a trend in Christian teaching that detours around the subject of sin. No one wants to be the messenger that reminds a generation that sin still offends God and that un-repented sin will always bear bad fruit. The truth is that the doctrine of sin is a major component to the Gospel message. In fact, without this teaching there is no real reason for Christ's death on the Cross and the Good News is reduced to just to News. Christ died for sin – past, present, and future, but He will never condone flagrant un-repented sin under the guise of Grace.

Why is this teaching hidden? Why do ministers swerve from this doctrine? Why are believers hesitant in speaking on it?

I believe that a major part of the answers lies in the cultures inability to deal with challenging and confrontational truth. The truth of sin does not appear to sensationalize the Gospel in a way that it is appealing to human nature and culture. It is clear that every good thing that people hope for, the very biblical promise they are in expectation of, was once theirs but lost in sin [but Christ came to restore]. We recognize that sin itself can devastate entire families, ministries, and communities. But most troubling is that sin mares the image of God in man. To keep silent on the issue is to indirectly endorse a failing society. I understand that this is a very broad topic to which I will not dive into detail here. For the sake of brief reading I will offer some concise points on issues to consider when “talking about sin.”

The Platform

The right platform will determine if you will have success in “talking about sin.” People tend to respond better to confrontational issues when the source is authoritative or familiar. Jesus was recognized as a good teacher, who was able to make righteous and authoritative judgment. When He was presented with the sin of an adulterous woman, He was in the position to deliberate on the subject of her sin (John 8:3). Of course the case can be made that Jesus always was and always will be on the right platform to judge sin. But here it is important to recognize that even Jesus did not utilize His platform to condemn sinners, but rather to reveal restorative truth.

John the Baptist was a unique character with a unique message, “REPENT…broad of vipers” (Luke 3:7-8). He was bold and successful on his platform (among the Jews). But as soon as he moved onto a platform of a heathen King, he was imprisoned and later beheaded (Mathew 14:1-12). Paul was slapped on the mouth for speaking outside of his platform (Acts 23:2). The point is that not only speaking outside of our assigned platforms can be fruitless, but it can be dangerous. Prayer will prepare you and position you to speak at the right time, in the right places, to the right people.

The Delivery

How you say it can determine if someone will receive or reject it. In reframing the accusation of those who condemned the adulterous woman, Jesus did not rant and rave about their sin. He only wrote in the sand; some suggest that Jesus was writing the individual sins of each accuser. Taken back by Christ's subtle but impacting delivery, these men being convicted dropped their stones one-by-one and turned away. He then turns to the woman who was on trial for adultery and forgives her and charges her with this command, “go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). His delivery was flawless!

If the delivery is not bearing fruit, then you must reexamine your delivery, platform, or both. We cannot overlook the biblical truth that reveals that men desire their ears to be satisfied with sweet nothings – as a result anything that is not a “sweet nothing” is rejected (2 Timothy4:3). But this does not mean that the heralds of truth need to always be blunt, crass, or without etiquette. The delivery can determine if the listener will be set free or remain in the bondage of sin. Tell it (deliver) like Jesus did.

The Heart

The heart of the herald and the heart of the listener are both essential in any discussion of sin. The first thing that anyone preaching sin must recognize is that they are sinners too. The listener must also recognize that just because the messenger is flawed, that will not stop the truth from being truth – God is not pleased with sin.

It is important to recognize the potential of skewed delivery, when a heart is contaminated by religiosity or carnality it can hinder the message. The legalistic (religious) heart will only see sin as the breaking of rules and condemn the sinner. A liberalistic (carnal) heart will interpret Grace as a right to sin. But those who are led by the Holy Spirit will neither condone nor condemn those who are entertaining sin. [To be judgmental towards those who are sin is to forget that God has delivered us from the power of sin and we still have a daily struggle against it.] The qualified messenger has the heart of God, filled with compassion and a desire to see themselves, their family, friends, and community free from the power and deception of sin.

Final Thought

We cannot afford to call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). Sin is a real problem in our society and our churches. A healthy church preaches sin in a way that it compels the sinner to turn from it. To look away from sin as if it is only a problem between an individual and God, is to reject the biblical call for community.

Telling professing Christians to refrain from sin is to help position them in the perfect will and purpose of God for this life. Teaching sinners about sin, should be followed with the full Gospel: Christ died for sin and He can set them free from its power, restore their identity, and reconcile their relationship with God. I encourage you to ask God to give you the tact and charisma to “talk about sin” with boldness and pure love. It may be your voice the Lord help others overcome.

From: (Day 18 of 50 days of Prayer, Fasting, and Action)

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