Sunday, August 13, 2023

Attitudes Toward Sin

By Joe Chesser
      My wife and I were reading from 1 Corinthians 5 recently. The first two verses told us about a man in the Corinthian church who was practicing a despicable sin. He was actually in a sexual relationship with his stepmom. According to 5.1, such things were not heard of, much less tolerated, even among the pagans. Yet, as bad as the sexual immorality was, the reason it was mentioned to the Corinthian Christians wasn’t so much about the sin itself, which was bad enough, but about the church’s attitude toward it. It’s almost unimaginable, but Paul said the Corinthians were puffed up (arrogant) about it (5.2), boasting even (5.6). They not  only tolerated the scandal, they had a sense of pride about it! Paul quickly told them that immediate changes needed to be made. The sinner needed to be reproved and removed from the church – disfellowshipped. Plus, their own attitude toward the sin and sinner needed to change. Instead of them being tolerant and/or proud, they should have felt humiliation and shame.  As an assembled church (5.4) they were to “deliver this man to Satan” (5.5). As harsh and drastic as that may sound, there are good reasons for such actions, namely for the saving of the man’s soul and for the purity of the church (5.7).
    As Bible study should always do, this passage got me to thinking. I began reflecting on my attitude about sin. How do I feel about my own sin? How do I feel about the sins of others – in the church and outside the church? I also thought about how sin is viewed in our current American culture.
    If you had been in the Corinthian church, how would you have felt about the man’s sin with his stepmom? Would you have felt differently after reading Paul’s letter to the church? Perhaps a more difficult questions is how do you view your own sin and sin in your own congregation? Do you view sin differently now than, say, five to ten years ago? How do you feel when a known sinner repents?
    As a whole, most of us reading this would say that sin is a very bad thing. But, really, what does that mean to you? I can’t answer that specifically for you; only you can do that. But I do know that there are wide varieties of attitudes about sin circulating around us and within us: from complete tolerance (“loving” everyone; judging no one) to total intolerance (compassionless legalism). One extreme is grace without accountability and the opposite extreme is accountability without grace. Neither represents the way the Bible depicts the Lord. Likewise, neither should portray the attitude of Christians toward sin.
    Let’s consider some contrasts to help us see what God’s attitude toward sin is.
·        Both Judas and Peter sinned by denying Jesus. However, their response to their own sin was totally opposite. Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27.5). Peter wept bitterly (Matthew 26.75). Which response was what the Lord desired?
·        Two men went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee denied his sin and bragged how great he was. The tax collector refused to look up toward heaven. Instead he beat on his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18.9-14). Which had the attitude toward sin that Jesus wanted?
·        Ahaz and David were both kings of Israel who sinned, but Ahaz was nothing like David (2 Kings 16.2). Ahaz did whatever he wanted; David, however, humbled himself when his sin was pointed out by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12.17 ; Psalm 51).
    I’ll ask again – how do you view your sin and the sins of others. There are several choices. You can flat out deny that you or anyone else sins (no God, no sin). You can rationalize sin to the point it becomes simply a personal choice (abortion; homosexuality, adultery, etc.). You can mock sin; make jokes about it to minimize the seriousness of sin. You can brush it off until later; delaying any personal confrontation with it. You can feel guilty you got caught (worldly sorrow that doesn’t lead to repentance – 2 Corinthians 7.10). Or, hopefully, you will be so heartbroken over your sin that godly sorrow will lead you to repentance (Acts 2.37-38; 2 Corinthians 7.10). Plus, you will do you best to help others come to realize how serious sin is and encourage them to accept God’s forgiveness.
    The Bible is clear about the nature of sin. And sin is sin whether it is acknowledged or not.  Sin is horrific. It is treacherous. It is contemptable. It destroys. It separates us from God. God hates sin, and so should we. The closer we get to God, the more we should hate sin.
    Two things in conclusion.  (1) God has a standard by which He will judge the world (Acts 17.30-31). Although He will use His standard to make His final judgment, (2) He allows every one of us the free choice of deciding for ourselves whether or not to believe in Jesus and obey the Gospel. It’s your choice how you view sin and how you accept God’s remedy for sin. This is the message the Spirit sent to the Corinthian church ... and it is the message He is sending to each of us today.

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment