I am trying to write daily devotions for you all. I fully believe that we need our daily bread, that is Jesus Christ. Daily, we need to be in the word, not just reading it, but learning it and understanding it. Anyways, you all already know how important I feel an understanding of Scripture to living the plan God has for each of us. But when I saw this Scripture this morning, so many thoughts went through my head.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (NIV)
Sin is such a huge topic and the way we feel about sin and the way we teach sin, both to Christians and unbelievers, is key to our success in fulfilling the Great Commission. I like how this is translated in the NIV. It is teaching us that sin is based on knowledge. The more I understand and know what God desires in each moment, two things happen. First, I understand more fully the boundaries of sin. Then second, I am held more accountable for my sin.
The word ‘sin’ means to miss the mark. I always think of an archery target and how holiness would be hitting the bullseye. Anything less than the bullseye then becomes sin, but only to those who see the bullseye. When we try to apply sin to people who cannot see the bullseye or, at times, the target at all, we become judgmental and drive people away from the Lord.
The more I study and the more the Holy Spirit teaches me, the more accountable I am. But for those who do not know as much or for those who do not believe at all, we need to have grace, not judgment because what is a sin to me may not be ‘bad’ to them.
When Jesus made His plea for people to come to Him, He did not say, “Come to me and I will help you to sin no more.” No, what He did was to make a plea to those who were weary with heaviness in their spirit. Weariness, depression, sadness, anger, bitterness weigh heavily on us and kill our spirit. He called to those suffering under the effect of sin offering relief, not behavioral change. That’s interesting, isn’t it? Too often the process of Christianity is all about behavioral change. We need to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. But the goal that Christ has for each of us is much deeper than behavioral change. His desire is for us to experience life more abundantly.
When I am dealing with my own sin, I need to allow the Holy Spirit to hold me accountable. I need to be receptive to that accountability. I need to not deny my sin or pretend it is not there. I need to be fully aware of my propensity to sin and allow the people in my life who love me also hold me accountable in the spirit of love. But when we are talking to unbelievers, we need to remember that the behavior we consider to be sinful and destructive is not what they consider sin or bad. They don’t know what they don’t know.
I saw a video recently of a Christian who was standing outside an abortion clinic. The video clip was from a Christian website intended to show the belligerence of a pro-choice woman who had a bull horn who stood directly in front of the Christian lady blaring profanities at her telling her to stop talking. Certainly, it was not a good image of the pro-choice woman. However the Christian lady, when the blaring bull-horn shouting calmed down, would say things such as, “Why are you so evil? Why do you hate babies? What you are doing is an abomination?”
Please don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that life begins at conception and abortion is sinful. But I believe this because of my understanding of the truth in Scripture. Others, who are not Christians, may still believe that abortion is wrong morally, but my belief is based on common-sense morality and Biblical truth. This is why I believe it to be displeasing to God in any case including rape, incest, or viability of the mother. However, the pro-choice lady in the video would not have agreed. When the Christian woman said, “God hates your behavior.” The pro-choice women simply said, “That’s your god.” My point is if the Christian woman’s goal was to convert this pro-choice woman or any others who may have been walking by, telling them they are sinners is not the way.
Sin is sin, no doubt. But calling people out as sinners who do not believe or accept Biblical principles will only create greater division between them and God. As a Christian, I must live by the standard taught me by the Holy Spirit which is holding myself to the high standards written in Scripture. But the Scriptures also teach me to not judge as sinners those who do not claim to be Christians. We are taught to judge the behavior of those who do claim to be Christian, but not those who do not. For those outside the church, we are to love them and help them see that God’s plan for their life leads to the greatest joy, fulfillment, peace, love, and health. As we love them, we can help them bring into focus the target area and moreso, the bullseye of abundant life.
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