C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Having An Issue With Someone or Their Sin

Recently I have seen a swarm of communication across Facebook in reference to a pastor of Baptist Church and his apparent inappropriate behavior. Who the pastor is and his sin (or alleged sin) is not important enough to the lesson to mention, but the message we can take from the situation is, in my opinion. I would like us to step back away from that current situation, and see how we can apply scripture to our own lives.

Since it was a pastor (elder, bishop, etc.), we will begin with:

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Now, does this mean that a pastor can never be corrected; even if they are living in sin?

1 Timothy 5:17-20
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

We see that if a pastor rules [and by rule, we do not mean as a dictator – Mark 10:42-44] then they are worthy of “double honour”. We are to support them appropriately financially, and not try to tell them what they can and cannot say in their preaching. The Holy Spirit can and will direct their minds and sermons.

We are not to quickly judge and rebuke an elder – BUT if there is undeniable proof by way of multiple witnesses, then they are to be rebuked before all.

Notice it says “rebuke BEFORE all” and not “rebuked BY all”.

Who was this written to? Timothy – another bishop (elder, pastor)

Why should they be rebuked? What is the purpose? “that others also may fear”

Is that so others will fear certain people, the deacons, the accusers, or the church – meaning that those would have power over the pastors to have them fear them? No.

It is for the purpose of bringing to remembrance to everyone their sins may also be brought forth for the whole congregation (or the whole world in our modern day) to see.

1 Timothy 5:24
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Just because your sin remains secret while another’s is broadcasted does not mean [1] theirs is worse than yours, [2] you are okay with God, [3] or that yours too will not be shown before men likewise.

The fear of seeing ones sin exposed should cause us all to confess and repent of our own sins to God, and ensure our fellowship with Him is right.

We must also notice these verses fall on the heels of Paul telling Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:12-16
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

To those of us who would like to rebuke the elder, do we likewise give “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”? Why? So we can spiritually discern a matter BEFORE we talk about it. When we are told or read of something about someone, we need to think before we instantly cast judgment and start spreading it on Facebook and elsewhere.

Proverbs 18:13
He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

And “heareth it” doesn’t just mean you have heard ABOUT it.

Do we also “continue” or walk in the doctrine we learn from scripture? If we don’t, then what gives us the right to speak of someone else not living right? We are to live right to be a testimony of Christ to others. Going around telling everyone else they are wrong does not make us right.

When we spread the news of another’s sin, are we doing it “in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity”?

Paul also tells Timothy:

1 Timothy 5:21
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

We are not supposed to show partiality. So, if you want to spread the sin of a pastor across every avenue available to you, then you should likewise share the sins of your spouse, family, and friends – and even your own. Most of the time our problem is we want some person’s sins exposed, while wishing to hide those of others. That’s hypocrisy.

So, we’ve just glanced at the idea of rebuking an elder – which may not have actually committed any sin directly against us – but what about when we have issues with fellow believers?

What do we do about that?

Do we likewise display our issue with them across the avenues of social media, and through gossip in our church family?

Matthew 18:15
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

Scripture says we should go to that person – not to Facebook or other church members. But, before we can go to that person, we need to go to God.

Why? To ensure we go to that person in the right spirit [in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity], praying the Holy Spirit may have them in the right spirit as well.

If we go in the flesh, we will just have a mess which will lead to more hurt, anger, and bitterness.

So, what if they don’t want to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:16
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

We are to bring witnesses. This could be witnesses to the facts, but these will be witnesses to what all is being said between the two parties: gossip control.

What if they still do not wish to resolve the issue?

Matthew 18:17
And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

If a person refuses to get right with God and fellow man, the church is supposed to treat them as a lost person.

Why? To hopefully draw them back into humble repentance, to restore their fellowship with God and man.

Just as with elders, although those who live in sin should be rebuked, that does not mean they are to be rebuked by everyone and through every outlet available to shout out their sin.

If you have an issue with someone or they have sinned against you, you are to first try to resolve the issue in private, then with spiritual witnesses, and then the church. If you haven’t gone to them, why are you going to everyone else?

If someone has not personally sinned against you, why are you spreading it around in circles and social media?

Romans 14:12
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We will be judged by the way we react to one’s sin, just as they will be judged by their sin.

And if you have spread one's sin, will you also spread their repentance and reconciliation to God and man with the same amount of enthusiasm? I pray so.

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John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.