We are having a great time discussing Romans together. (Well, at least, I’m having a great time studying Romans with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I’m assuming they’re having a great time also based on what I’m hearing and learning as we gather.)
Last Sunday, we worked our way through Romans 3. You know chapter 3, right? That’s the famous chapter in which Paul emphasizes that everyone is sinner, no one seeks God, no one is righteous – not the Jews, not the Gentiles – no one.
Of course, he also tells us that while we are not righteous on our own, we are righteous in Jesus Christ – apart from the law, apart from works, apart from ourselves, apart from anything other than Jesus Christ. Period.
The discussion moved in the direction of talking with people about our own sins.
While visiting his daughter, one of our brothers recently spoke to a college student who is a new believer. That night that they spoke, the student had been smoking marijuana with some old friends. He told my friend about this, and they talked for several hours about the student’s struggles with past sins and habits. Of course, my friend also shared some of his own struggles and how God’s presence, power, and grace continues to help him through those struggles.
At one point, my friend asked the student if there was anyone among the church who he could talk with, who he could share these struggles with, and who would help him through the temptations.
The young man replied, “No way! They are much more holy than me. They never do anything wrong. They make me feel so unclean.”
Now, I would assume that those brothers and sisters would be surprised to hear this student say this about them. I’m sure they would admit that they sin and that they rely completely on the grace of God through Jesus Christ for righteousness – not their own good works or life.
But, here’s the problem… regardless of what they may think about themselves, they’re obviously projecting a completely different vibe. From hanging around them, this student feels that they would look down on him and judge him because of his sin.
This tells me something about these brothers and sisters in Christ: they don’t talk about their own sin. They don’t admit their own failures. Even though I’m sure they know they sin, they present themselves to others as if they don’t.
This is a big problem… huge problem.
And, this story (true story, unfortunately) with my friend and this young believer demonstrates exactly what this is a big problem. You see, that student needs to turn to his brothers and sisters in Christ for help, for prayer, for example, for discipleship, for teaching, for admonishment, for counsel, for love, for forgiveness, for mercy… but he won’t because he thinks he will be judged (whether he would be judged or not).
Do you do the things you don’t want to do? Do you not do the things that you want to do? Do you recognize that the only help for you and this body of sin is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord? Then, admit it openly and publicly to your brothers and sisters in Christ. They need to know that they can turn to you for help with their own temptations, struggles, and sin.