Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Great Responsibility


"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ," Hebrews 12:22-23


 When you got saved, you entered into something that is called a "great mystery" in Ephesians 5; the church.. You were placed into the body of Christ and joined  with every other believer not only alive, but every believer since Calvary.  The Bible says in Romans 12:4-5 that "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we , being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."  You are an individual, but at the same time, you are not.  We are many, and at the same time, we are one.    A great mystery, indeed.
  Being part of the body of Christ is literally the best thing ever, but carries with it certain responsibilities  that we  don't always understand or don't always consider as we live out our individual lives.  What affects one of us affects all of us. Romans 14:7 explains it as " For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself".
  If all that is true , then every saved person carries a responsibility to every other saved person. That responsibility is to live lives uncluttered by sin, or as 2 Timothy 2 says "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity".  The fact is when you  sin, you hurt the rest of us.  Secret sin immobilizes the body from within, discreetly  silencing your witness and robbing you of your joy. Secret sin eventually becomes open sin. Open sin damages the testimony of the church (1 Cor 5), and gives unbelievers yet another excuse to reject the Saviour.  It discourages younger believers, and causes confusion and discord within the body.  Sin  invites the chastening of God upon an individual and, if tolerated, upon an assembly.  If you are saved, you have a responsibility to stay clean, and when you fall, you have an obligation to repent.
  Other believers also have a responsibility to not accommodate you in your sin.  We are not obligated to sweep it under the rug under the guise of being nice or non-judgmental. The responsibility God has placed on us in this area is so much larger than your feelings or mine. We must deal with issues that come up in a biblical matter. 
  It is not kindness to restore without repentance. It is in fact, cruelty to the rest of the body. Too often in this  current climate we are  pressured  to overlook sin in the camp with the vapid idea that we should be  "loving" or "accepting" or "supportive".  It is not "loving" to overlook a transgression that hurts everyone else.  It is not "accepting" to turn a  blind eye to someone's crimes against God. It is not "supportive" to let someone damage the body of Christ with their lusts.  We are one body and no rational person would punch themselves in the nose repeatedly while claiming they are being charitable towards their face.    Quite to the  contrary, the Bible says "Charity suffereth long , and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself , is not puffed up Doth not behave itself unseemly , seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked , thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"If you are saved, and you sin, the sheer magnitude of what you have done to other believers and to the cause of Christ should  overwhelm you and drive you to repentance.  That is your responsibility.
  If you repent, other believers have an responsibility to restore you to fellowship, even if the crime you committed was against them. Galatians 6 says "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted ."  Too often people want restoration without repentance, and that is  horrible.  Equally horrible however, is when the repentant one is not restored.  One of  the great blessings of the Christian life is the ability to outlive your mistakes, but to do that, your mistakes cannot be hung around your neck as some sort of perpetual reminder of the past.  Christians who sin have an responsibility to repent, but Christians who did not sin have an equal responsibility to restore the repentant, and let the past be the past.
 Years back, I knew two young ladies, both of whom claimed to be saved, and who both  became pregnant out of wedlock at about the same time.  As my family tried to fulfill our scriptural obligations in this area, the one young lady became bitter and angry at  how 'judgmental' we were being. I was told  that we weren't 'showing love', and even as I  made the case from the scriptures of her responsibility in this area, the relationship deteriorated. She justified her situation, surrounded herself with people who agreed with her, and together they looked down their noses at those 'mean Christians'.  Having disregarded God's opinion on this, this young lady has no right to expect anything other than she  will sow what she has reaped.
  The other young lady, however, went before the church, admitted her sin, apologized and asked to be forgiven.  I will never forget that night. It was absolutely one of the  bravest things I have ever seen, and she will  probably never understand what it did for my heart. In the midst of the turmoil from the other situation, here was somebody willing to do what was right, even if it cost them. I was as much in her corner as a man could be, and she was  immediately accepted back into fellowship. To this day, I consider myself one of her most stalwart defenders, and she remains one of my heroes.  The circumstances under which her son was conceived never comes up. She has outlived her mistake and , having obeyed the scripture, has every right to expect God to bring along a good man to help her. I , for one, am rooting for her. 




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