I’ve been mulling over this post for months. I’ve been arguing with myself. Is this the kind of post I want to write? Is this a message I want to come from my blog? Don’t I want this to be an upbeat, encouraging place?
Conviction runs strong, though. Although I’m not a confrontational person, I do have a passion to write what is laid upon my heart…
I’ve gone down to the river to pray over the state of our country. I brought a child into this world almost four years ago, and I fear for the culture in which he’ll live.
Times are changing, and so are we. The last few weeks, I haven’t written much, but my fervor for truth and writing haven’t faltered. I’ve simply crawled inside myself to watch the world go ‘round. The changes in our family dynamic have changed, and they are wonderful. Being home with Josiah and serving my family more readily is definitely what I’ve wanted.
But it has also given me more time to reflect on what’s happening in our country, and I’m sick. I’m sick of hearing about violence, and hatred, and sin. You would have to go off the grid to avoid hearing about it.
What pains me even more is to hear the response of people who call themselves followers of Christ. There is hatred, and there is tolerance of sin in the name of love. Neither one is Biblical, and neither one is going to lead our country closer to peace and freedom.
I’ve debated with myself over whether to name specific moral issues, but I’m not into sparking debate. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the issues of morality our country is trying to handle.
The general outcry concerning morality is “Don’t judge me!”
How many of these sayings do you see around the internet daily?
I remember a time when I read this, and cheered! “Yes, that is the problem with the church; it’s full of a bunch of judgmental sinners!”
I used to be what you’d call a “Super Christian.” You know, one of those people who try to act like they have all their ducks in a row, and then sit in judgement over you because one of yours was leaning to the left. So, when God rocked my world and taught me that He’s all about Love, I realized that my life shouldn’t be about judging others, but loving them to Christ.
So I get that saying. BUT.
In this season of learning, God is teaching me that love does NOT mean not discerning between right and wrong.
Time and time again, people scream that we shouldn’t judge one another, but then they are shocked when a person commits an act of brutal violence.
I’m with them on the shock and horror. However, can you not see the connection between denying a universal moral standard and acts of hatred and violence? We all agree that murder is wrong, but what else is wrong? How do we define it?
We are a generation that wants nothing to do with judgment, but where you take away judgment, you take away discipline. Discipline is what keeps people in line. It’s what gives children a clear understanding of right and wrong. If you don’t judge as a parent, you will not teach your child how to behave correctly, and he will grow up to satisfy his sinful desires, and will inevitably hurt everyone around him.
I firmly believe one of the biggest problems in our generation is a lack of discipline. People today, many Christians included, would have us believe there is not and should not be any consequence for sin.
In regard to one particular issue, I’ve witnessed so many Christians quote Jesus in John 8, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” They say, “If you want to be like Jesus, you should love others, not judge them.”
Here’s my challenge to you, Christian: If you are going to call yourself a follower of Christ, please get into your Bible and find out what that really means. If you read the passage that is being quoted, you will see that loving like Jesus does not mean you don’t judge right from wrong.
Here’s the summary of the story: A woman was caught sleeping with someone who wasn’t her husband, and according to the Law (Old Testament), she and the man with whom she committed adultery were to be put to death. Jesus steps in and tells her accusers they can stone her to death if they haven’t sinned. When not one person steps forward, Jesus tells her that he doesn’t condemn her.
This is where people want to stop the story, and claim that loving like Jesus means tolerating one another’s sin.
But what does Jesus continue to say?! “Go, and from now on sin no more.” Jesus called that woman out of her sin! He judged righteously that adultery is sin, and He loved her enough to tell her to repent and leave that path of destruction.
That is what it means to love like Jesus.
Rather than condemning a person to death, you call him from his path of destruction to a life of repentance, forgiveness, and peace, which comes from living in line with God’s Word, the true moral standard.
There’s a lot of debate today about what is sin and what is not sin, according to the Bible. There are faithful Christians who are truly seeking God’s truth in response to society’s behavior. Questions arise when comparing the Old and New Testaments. If a specific sin is listed in the Old Testament, but not the New, some would claim that this means God no longer disapproves of the behavior.
I believe this is a misunderstanding of the Laws of Sin and Grace.
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God doesn’t change. The only thing that changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament is God’s application of justice. THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO SIN. Jesus took on the death that was required to pay for our sins.
He didn’t die so that we could sin freely. Do not be mistaken. Jesus died so that we could walk away from our sin.
Look at Romans 3:19-31…
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
A few things I take from this passage…
- The Old Testament Law explains what sin is (v. 20)
- No human is capable of being justified by perfectly following the Law (v. 20)
- We are all guilty of sin (v. 24)
- Jesus took on the punishment for our sins, because God is just, and there must be justice for sins (v. 26)
- Jesus did not do away with the law by dying on the cross, but confirmed that the Law exists, and there must be atonement for sin (v. 31)
Jesus did not come to do away with the law, therefore nullifying the sins of the Old Testament. He came to fulfill the Law.
Matthew 5:17-20 says,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus didn’t come so that we could be free to live in whatever way we feel is right. His message of love is that we could be forgiven, despite our sin.
Continuing in Matthew 5, Jesus calls his followers to an even higher standard of living than the Old Testament (i.e. He taught them how their righteousness would exceed that of the Pharisees). Don’t murder, but also, don’t hate. Don’t have sex with a person who is not your spouse, but don’t fantasize about it, either. Don’t abandon your spouse without a certificate of divorce, but don’t divorce her unless she’s committed adultery. Don’t swear falsely, but have enough integrity that you don’t have to swear at all. Don’t retaliate against someone who has harmed you. Love your enemies…
The people who lived under the Old Law were condemned because the Law has no power to save. It only points out sin. We, under the new law of Grace, are justified by Jesus blood shed on the cross. We have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us beyond the Law of sin to a life of freedom and holiness, that is, a higher standard of morality. Don’t just clean up your actions, but your heart and motivation, as well.
Jesus wasn’t a man who said we should be tolerant.
Love cannot coexist with tolerance.
Justice cannot coexist with tolerance.
Tolerance says, “Live, and let live.”
Love says, “I want the best for you.”
Justice says, “There must be correction for wrongdoing.”
Love and justice require judgment of right and wrong, the best and worst ways of living.
I get this notion of tolerance, though. In the time in my life when I screamed, “Don’t judge me!”, I was really saying, “Love and accept me.”
There is so much brokenness in the world today, and we as Christians are to love broken people. For heaven’s sake, we ARE broken people! Everyone craves to be loved and accepted, but the acceptance of sin is not the answer to brokenness.
The problem with the modern day interpretation of love is that it is based off of human experience.
Let’s look at an extreme, but real life example of human experience. If I were to believe that committing suicide were the key to freedom from my brokenness, would the loving thing be to let me do what I feel is best?
Did you know that a person is often elated right before committing suicide? He finally feels free. He feels comfortable in his own skin for the first time. He thinks he’s finally found an answer and an end to his pain.
By the world’s definition of love, we shouldn’t judge his choice. We should accept it, and be happy that he’s finally found his personal truth.
Are you sick to your stomach at that example? I am. I’ve lived the hell of losing someone I love to suicide. This is our most poignant example of personal destruction.
What I want to tell you is that there is a greater form of personal destruction than that. Choosing a life outside of God’s commandments is spiritual suicide; eternal death.
So tell me Christian, why would we tolerate eternal, spiritual suicide, when we would move heaven and earth to stop someone from physical suicide?
Again I’ll say it, tolerating sin is not the answer to human brokenness. I understand the desire for the people around us to feel peace and happiness. But neither of those things will last outside of Jesus.
Jesus is the answer. Jesus died in our place, and He called us out of our sinful, godless existence. He did not do so to make us follow a rigid set of rules, but to allow us to live in the freedom that is radical obedience. If you believe that God is all-knowing, then logic would have it that He knows the absolute best way for us to live.
In no way am I saying that loving a person out of their sin is simple or easy. There is no exact formula. What I do know is that we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us. If you want to share the truth in love, rather than being a hypocritical, judgmental Christian, you have to keep coming back to the Word and continually ask the Spirit for guidance.
We are not perfect, as the scriptures above clearly demonstrate. We are going to sin and hurt people’s feelings, even when we are trying to love them. But we don’t stop trying.
Our message is this: The Law of God still stands. However, we are free from the punishment we deserve for breaking it. Jesus took on death to save us from eternity without God.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).