the weblog of Alan Knox

Sin and the church – Part 1

Posted by on Mar 31, 2008 in discipleship | 6 comments

This series is not about the amount of sin in the church – not exactly. This is not a rant about divorce and adultery and homosexuality and pride and hypocrisy among Christians. Instead, in this post, I’d like for us to think about this question: what should the church (that is, believers) do when they discover that another believer has sinned?

Originally, this was going to be a single post about the issue of adultery. As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re studying through the book of Matthew. We’re currently working our way through the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon – especially in chapter 5 – Jesus teaches about sin, in an authoritative manner that amazes the people who hear him. I believe Jesus demonstrates clearly that all of us are murderers, adulterers, liars, and brother-haters. In other words, he shows us the extent of our sin – and it is very extensive.

In this series of posts, I want us to think about sin and how the church should deal with sin. What should we do when someone among the church commits sin.

As we think about this question, let’s recognize two things: 1) the church is holy and 2) the church is pure. Holiness and purity are separate issues, even though they are generally combined, which causes alot of confusion and misunderstanding.

The church is holy (“separate”, “set apart”) because the church has been separated from the world by God. God set the church apart. This is not something that we do; this is an act of God. Now, the way that we live should demonstrate that we are different from the world, but the way that we live does not make us holy. God makes us holy. We are saints (“holy ones”) because we have been given that designation by God.

Also, the church is pure because believers have been forgiven of their sins by God. The church has been made righteous. Again, this is not something that we do. Scripture is very clear that we cannot make ourselves righteous, regardless of how hard that we try. Once again, our lives should demonstrate our purity, but the way that we live does not make us righteous. God makes us righteous. We are righteous because we have become the righteous of God in Christ.

As we think about sin, these two points are very important. Adultery or murder or stealing or any other sin does not make the church un-holy or impure. If sin made the church un-holy or impure then the church would never be un-holy or impure until Christ returns. Thus, dealing with sin is not a matter of protecting the holiness or the purity of the church.

As we continue this series, we’ll continue to ask the question, “How should the church deal with sin?” I hope you decide to take part in the discussion.


Sin and the church series
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-31-2008


    Your introductory comments are certainly of the calibre I have come to expect from you, which causes me to greatly anticipate the series.

    What a breath of fresh air to read your words,”Holiness and purity are separate issues, even though they are generally combined, which causes alot of confusion and misunderstanding.” Oh, how true!

  2. 4-1-2008


    I wonder, in light of what you are saying here, how you would interpret the words in 1 Cor. 5:6-7about “a little leaven leavening the whole lump”?

  3. 4-1-2008

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate your consistent encouragement.


    I think 1 Cor. 5 is about unrepentant sin. However, even if the “leaven” is repentant sin, there is a danger that sin will spread. I think this is one of the reasons that Paul warns those who are “spiritual” to be careful when helping restore a brother or sister who has committed sin.


  4. 4-1-2008

    I think it is important as the church deals with sin, we should do it lovingly. We should have concern for the spritual well being of our brothers and sisters in Christ and that concern should lead us to lovingly confront them when we find that they are in sin. The goal should always be restoration of that believer. We also need to maintain an attitude of humility while we are coming alongside to help them. It’s important, I think, for us to remember that we’re sinners and while we may not be struggling with the particular area they are struggling with, we struggle with our own load and will certainly need help sometimes.

  5. 4-2-2008

    Alan. I´m not sure I agree with the past tense in some of the things you mention above. I don´t believe we have been forgiven beforehand for all our sins. If that would be the case, the church´s dealings with sins would just be unnecessary. As I see it, Jesus and the apostles teaches that we are forgiven when we confess our sin and turn from it. I think you divide the church up into a spiritual reality (righteous, clean, forgiven etc before God) and an earthly reality (on it´s way, sometimes broken and divided etc), in a way that has no base in the apostolic writings.
    /Jonas Lundström

  6. 4-2-2008


    You’re reading my mind. I’ll get to that at the end of this series. Thank you!


    Yes, my view of sin is based on my view of the atonement. Since we disagree on that issues, then we’ll disagree on the issue of sin as well. I do think it is important for the church to deal with sin, and I’ll get to that in a later post in this series. I do appreciate your input on these issues.