When I began this series, I asked the following question: “What should the church (that is, believers) do when they discover that another believer has sinned?” Then, after looking through several passages – especially the Sermon on the Mount and James 2:10 – I concluded that all of us have sinned, and all of us continue to sin. Though God has made a way through Jesus Christ and his indwelling Spirit for us to live sinless lives, we do not walk in complete obedience to him – we are not perfected yet. Therefore, I can ask my original question as follows: “What should sinners do when they discover that another sinner has sinned?”
It is important for God’s people – that is, followers of Jesus Christ – to recognize their own sinfulness before attempting to interact with another believer who is sinning. Many times, it seems, Christians do not recognize their own sinfulness, and instead they approach other sinners with an attitude of self-righteousness.
I’ve talk with many Christians who struggle with sin. Sometimes, these people struggle with “big” sins – that is, sins that the church considers to be unacceptable – not acceptable sins like pride or anger or selfishness or covetousness. No, I’m talking about sexual sins among others. Most of the time, these believers who are struggling with “big sins” are repentant. As I’m discipling them, I tell them that the best thing they can do is confess their sins to the church and ask the church to help them deal with their temptation.
What response do I get? Most of them say that they cannot even return to the group of believers with which they once met, much less confess their sin to them. Why? Because they know they will be condemned by these followers of Jesus. How do they know this? Because they have seen how the church has condemned other brothers and sisters who have committed “unacceptable sins” – that is, sins that are not acceptable to the church.
The church is more than happy to accept those who are proud, resentful, angry, selfish, covetous, etc, even when they are not repentant. But, if someone repents of an “unacceptable sin”, that person is condemned and rejected. This is not the scriptural way to deal with sin.
If we should not deal with repentant brothers and sisters with condemnation – even for big sins – then how should we deal with them? To ask my question again: “What should the church (sinners) do when they discover that another believers (sinner) has sinned?”