Speaking to One Another in Love about Sin

The church must be a place where people can grow, can begin as immature, and come to maturity.  No matter where we draw the line of “when to speak to a brother” we must do so in a context of the Gospel and knowing that we are all maturing in Christ.  Every day believers need the Gospel.
The new community is not a place where people are perfect.  It is a place where people are honest about their sin.  It is not a place of perfection, but of humility and the cross.
Mark Lauterbach

On Sunday, June 27, pastor Davey argued from Galatians 6:1-5 that we are called to be burden bearers. One emphasis of the text is bearing one anothers’ sin burdens. That is, we are to bear one anothers’ sin burdens by humbly, lovingly, and gently talking to one another about sin. The hope of such conversations is that we will all walk in restored relationships – with God and with one another.

The way we deal with sin, ours and other’s, reveals our view of God. If we ignore or rationalize our sin, our God is too small. If we try to cover it up or run and hide from God, our God is too small. If we think our sin is so great God cannot forgive it, our God is too small. Our God is the covenant LORD who not only makes and keeps his covenant promises, he also is the one who in Jesus, the God-man, became the human covenant keeper on our behalf (Exodus 34). Now, in Christ, we have a new heart, God’s Spirit, and forgiveness of sin. This is the God we must run to when we sin!

When we understand who God is for us in Christ, we can not only run to him and confess our sin, but we can also go to one another and confess our sins to those we sin against. In addition, when we believe in the God who reveals himself in Christ, we can also forgive those who have sinned against us.

At High Pointe, we long to have a culture where, believing in this God, we can speak to one another in love about sin. Pastor Mark Lauterbach, in his book The Transforming Community, helps us understand how to wisely address one another in relation to sin between brothers and sisters in Christ. Read his counsel below, think through it, pray about it, and let these thoughts, grounded in Scripture, guide your future conversations about sin with brothers and sisters in Christ.

*How to wisely address concerns about sin with brothers and sisters in Christ:

  1.  It should be evident we are dealing with sin, not violation of church taboos or traditions [or personal preferences]. “Make sure that the sin you are seeing in the other can be addressed by reading a verse of Scripture, without commentary” (86).
  2. Guard the church against an atmosphere that is always pointing out sin (Matthew 7:1-5). “The call to reprove my fellow believer for sin must be put in the context of the call to encourage them and build them up” (88).
  3. Remember that the general tone of the New Testament is encouragement. “I find it helpful,” notes Lauterbach, “to assume that another believer wants to please God. Therefore, they welcome my encouragement. The attitude behind reproof is to help them grow in Christ, which they want to do” (89).
  4. Remember there is sin that is the normal lapse of the believer in their state of remaining sin. “The first question to ask is simple: Is this sin I am seeing part of the ordinary stumbling of the Christian? If so, then I need not speak to it immediately. Is it hardening their hearts or are they judging it themselves? If the latter, I may forbear” (89).
  5. Remember to take into account the work of the Spirit. “[The Spirit] is wisely shaping us into the likeness of Christ in his sovereign love. Rather than expose all our corruption at once, he is gentle. To see ourselves as God sees us would undo us. He points out one thing at a time. As I intend to reprove someone or speak to them of my concern for them in sin, I must be aware of this” (90).
  6. Where the believer is judging his sin and admitting it, I have no reason to be harsh. “They, like me, are seeking help and encouragement to keep on fighting the holy war. It is not helpful to rub salt in a wound” (92).
  7. Sometimes we must intervene quickly. “Some sins have an unusual seriousness (and danger) to them. If I see a friend flirting with someone of the opposite sex, it is not time to be patient. It is time with wise and gracious words, to intervene, see if suspicions are correct, and seek their repentance before adultery is committed” (92).
*These seven points are taken from The Transforming Community: The Practise of the Gospel in Church Discipline (85-92)
By Mark Lauterbach

May the Lord grant us the grace to speak to one another in love about sin.
Pastor Juan

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