There is an icky, modern lie that worms its way into the hearts and minds of our churches. It is marring the Name of the Lord and denying Christ’s work on the Cross wherever it goes.
What is it? It is the lie that we need to protect the reputation of Christ by hiding sin in the Church.
But it isn’t a new problem. It is a problem that has been lurking around since the beginning of the church. Satan has plagued us since the Garden of Eden when he wormed his way into Eve’s heart and made her question if God really meant what He said and if it was truly for her good.
And here we are, thousands and thousands of years later, still questioning if God really meant what He said about our conduct.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2:9-12, ESV
I think, like Eve, we are well-intentioned and want to do right.
But God does not need us to protect Him from our sin natures. God knows we are a broken, sinful people and came to save us from that very sin. But when we as a Church hide brokenness, we deny our need for the mercy of God.
Scandals plague the church because instead of bringing them into the light and calling out sin, we minimize them and hide sin so that the world doesn’t think the people of Christ are broken. Whether it’s sex scandals, financial misconduct, or even “little” sins like drunkenness, anger, or greed, we tend to hide from it and point to others, not ourselves.
We’ve seen the effects again and again when sin is inevitably brought to light and the Name of Christ is scandalized not by the sin, but by cover-ups perpetuated by those who were supposed to protect the flock.
The humility of St. Paul claiming to be the foremost of all sinners is lost among us who clamor to hide our deep need for Christ’s mercy on our souls.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. – 1 Timothy 1:15-16, ESV
That is the example we need our leaders to set in address both their personal sin and sin in our congregations. If St. Paul is an example of Christ’s patience, how much more are you and I living testaments to the patience of God extended over and over again on our predisposition to sin?
What example do we give the World when we hide sin instead of acknowledging that we are broken and that God’s grace extends to the adulterers, the abusers, the drunkards, and the liars like us?
Christ’s sacrifice is more than enough to cover our sins.
When people look to our churches and see that we are saying that the sacrifice of Christ is big enough to cover any sin but that in action, we seek to hide that very sin and treat it as a PR issue, they know we deny His work with our lives if not our mouths.When people look to our churches and see that we are saying that the sacrifice of Christ is big enough to cover any sin but that in action, we seek to hide that very sin and treat it as a PR issue, they know we deny His work with… Click To Tweet
Instead of denying sin, God’s word makes it clear that we should be actively seeking to identify and repent of sin in our own lives. Scripture also makes it clear that when someone persists in unrepentant sin despite correction from the church, they should no longer be welcome in the Body of Christ.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, ESV
We are not to take the presence of sin in our congregations lightly.
Sin in the world? We are to expect it. Sin in the Church? We are expected to address it swiftly with the goal being reconciliation with the Church. Sometimes, that means that someone needs to realize the severity of their sin by being separated from the Church until they are willing to repent.Sin in the world? We are to expect it. Sin in the Church? We are expected to address it swiftly with the goal being reconciliation with the Church. Click To Tweet
Where sin abounds, God’s grace is even more abundant.
But when we minimize and hide sin, we minimize that amazing grace and hide an opportunity for ourselves and others to see it in action.
If we are going to live as Christ lived, we need to take sin and grace as seriously as He did. We need to be willing to call out sin and accept Christ’s atoning work. When we deny and hide it, we don’t protect Christ’s reputation, we slander it.
Like Christ and the woman caught in adultery, we need to acknowledge God’s mercy on our past but need to move forward sinning no more.
When we allow sin to fester in secret, we use trample of the freedom from sin given to us by Christ.If we are going to live as Christ lived, we need to take sin and grace as seriously as He did. We need to be willing to call out sin and accept Christ’s atoning work. When we deny and hide it, we don’t protect Christ’s reputation,… Click To Tweet
Our proclamations of His works are mocked when we deny their necessity with our actions. When our churches are more focused on maintaining the status quo the renewal of our souls and minds into the image of Christ, we have failed miserably.
Today, let us stand firmly in the love and grace of Christ. Let us badly approach the throne of God knowing that Jesus offered up Himself as our perfect sacrifice. And let us proclaim, both through words and actions, that His work on the Christ is enough to cover all of our sin. Let us not shy away from the sinfulness that made us need Him but recognize that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete us. He has redeemed us and He is sanctifying us, forming us into His image and freeing our souls from every last grasp that sin has on our hearts.
When we ignore sin, we deny that grace. Instead of ignoring sin, may we be people who repent, over and over again, until we see Him face to face.