Lawlessness

Lawlessness Lately I have been hearing of a movement within Christianity that says churches shouldn’t talk about sin because we are saved by grace. They seem very judgmental about their condemnation of being judgmental. They usually attack a stereotype of a church in the 1950’s as if it represents most evangelical churches today. They say churches speak too much on sin...I doubt it. I think there are very few churches like this “straw man,” and I think they use this technique to draw young people who like to look down on established religion and want to hold onto sin while maintaining a form of religion. Here are the reasons why I think this is a big deal: First, any cursory reading of the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, reveals that God hates sin – all sin in any form. Usually these churches teach that there is really only one sin Jesus condemned – legalism. It is true that he condemned legalism, but he also spoke out against murder, hatred, adultery, lust, divorce, lying, pride, greed and worry – all in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul, the apostle of grace, has lists of sins that we are to avoid at all cost and goes so far as to say that anyone practicing as a lifestyle these sins will not inherit God’s kingdom (Colossians 3:5-10; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Second, those who only speak of grace to the neglect of speaking out against sin don’t really understand what salvation is. In his excellent book R.C. Sproul asks the question in the title, Saved From What? According to Matthew 1:21 we are saved from our sins. Sin is so bad it took the death of Jesus on a cross to bring about our forgiveness. Sin is bad for us and it is an affront to God’s glory. To avoid talking about sin preachers would have to avoid half of the New Testament, which is why all of these new preachers are topical preachers – they avoid the passages that contradict what they like to emphasize. Healthy, balanced churches preach expositionally through books of the Bible verse by verse. Sin is bad for us, which is why Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.” How can we restore a person if we don’t bring up their sin to them? Jesus said in Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Should we ignore these passages? No, because sin hurts our brothers and sisters. We should be gentle and not judgmental, but we need to talk about sin. Third, these new preachers don’t understand the work of the Holy Spirit. John 16:8-11 reveals that the Spirit convicts the world about sin, righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit convicts us. I heard someone once say that this is only until they get saved; now there is no condemnation according to Romans 8:1. What that person doesn’t realize is that there is a difference between conviction and condemnation. Of course the Spirit still convicts us of sin. He loves us too much not to. Finally, we were actually warned about these preachers a long time ago in Jude 1:4: “For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.” Lawlessness is just as evil as legalism. James clearly stated, “Faith without works is dead.” James isn’t contradicting Paul in Ephesians 2:8-10; he is actually in agreement with him. James is simply saying that real faith will produce good works. People who get saved get a heart transplant where they actually want to follow God’s ways (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Good works don’t save us at all, but they are evidence of true faith that saves us. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not the root. Jesus said we will know them by their fruit, warning us of these preachers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:20).