“Sin remains sin, no matter how emotive or empathetic we might be towards the sinner. It does not matter if the sinner is ourselves, our nearest and dearest, friends, or strangers. All sin is worthy of death, and that must be our response to it. We have no right to be judgmental, however, which causes us to react badly to sin, or to apply our own human standards to the sinner.
…..We must respond – with biblical standards, not our own. That is, we look at sin as God looks at it, and we apply the necessary discipline, as He requires.
Discipline is NOT what so many think it is – punishment! True discipline covers every aspect of our Christian lives. It means we read scripture, pray, and act according to God’s word, in ALL things. When it comes to sin, discipline arrives at genuine conclusions found in the evidence, and applies the remedy as we perceive God to demand it. This might be to extend grace and compassion, or dismissal of our thoughts, or punishment. If it is punishment we must ensure it is action we see in God’s word, or is compatible with it. ……We must discipline with love and a desire to help the sinner put things right. If he refuses, we must issue a warning. Only after this should we walk away, and avoid fellowship, as God requires.
To judge is not the same as to be judgmental! To judge is to examine the facts/evidence, and to arrive at proper conclusions as permitted or given by God. It leads to wise decision-making. It is objective and does not include our personal desires or wishes, and when we judge we do not come to a conclusion based on anger or prejudice. To be judgmental is not the same. It means to be prejudiced from the start and to come to a bad or poor conclusion, oftentimes based on nothing but hearsay or emotion, not truth. Very often judgmentalism arises from one’s own sinfulness.
So, sin is sin. We must respond wisely and carefully, relying on scripture for our conclusions. That is, we judge a person or situation, applying God’s own standards to the situation. Scripture clearly tells us that we are to judge the conduct of others and situations, and we are to avoid falling into such traps ourselves. We are to discipline ourselves against sinful and exhort one another against such behavior before it becomes an excuse for unbelievers to mock us and God.”
For those who point to Jesus eating with Zacchaeus or Matthew or preferring to be among the sinners of his time instead of hobnobbing with the Jewish religious elite, I would say this: Jesus sat with sinners and we are cautioned not to…. The caution is because, unlike Jesus, we don’t have the power to save them….. and most of us will wind up falling in with them, enabling them, and participating in the sin with them. Jesus’ presence among sinners is a potent and sweet salvation. Ours is generally not. People point to Jesus and say, “He did it. So should we.”
Are you ready to spend hours and hours in prayer? Are you ready to live a life of abject poverty? Are you ready to serve a small group of people to transform their lives? Are you ready to sacrifice your own hide? Are you willing to be laughed at and mocked and rejected for striving to follow Jesus? If not, then be careful how you point to Jesus as an example for hanging out with people who are doing things that are “sinful” by biblical standards, doing what you really want to do anyway. Do what you want if you wish. Have compassion for sinners, but don’t think you’re doing them a favor by participating in their sin with them out of “love”. If we truly love those who are in sin, we point them to Jesus, we tell them the truth. We don’t pervert their view of Jesus by pretending we are “being Jesus” while acting in ways that Jesus never would have.
Jesus, Friend of Sinners, comes to sinners where they are and lifts them out of their sinfulness…..he does not remain in it with them……and he does not participate in it with them.