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Tim Johnson: Love the sinner; hate the sin

Tim Johnson • Updated Apr 20, 2018 at 7:00 PM

They happened in homes across the land; some have even happened in restaurants, workplaces and other places of business. They are called interventions.

During an intervention, friends, family and loved ones will gather to talk to someone about how they are ruining their life and possibly the lives of those around them. The group will show the individual the error of his ways, encourage a turn around from their harmful behavior, offer support and help as the person goes through counseling and other forms of help.

No one can know for sure, but it would be safe to assume thousands of interventions have taken place across our land through the years. Mostly, they happen because of substance abuse, but sometimes there were other reasons. I know of a group of people who held an intervention for a man cheating on his wife. 

Interventions are an act of love. Why invest the time and effort into a person’s life if you do not care?

Sometimes a person will listen and heed the advice, get counseling and make a concentrated effort to change their ways. Sadly, however, sometimes a person will not admit they are doing anything wrong. “I don’t drink that much” and “I only smoke pot to unwind a little” are examples of statements made by someone who does not believe they have a problem. The fact that eight of his closest friends are confronting him about this situation should be more than a hint, but alas, at times, all of us will ignore the obvious when we are unwilling to see it.

There is a trend in Christianity. In an attempt to be tolerant, and not be judgmental, Christians are accepting, or at least silent, about sin. Going hand in hand with this trend is a growing belief within society – “If you disagree with me, you must hate me.” It seems like Christians have lost their hatred of sin and that the world has lost the understanding that criticism and differences of opinions can come from someone who loves them. 

Jesus shows the balance of hating the sin, but loving the sinner in John 8. 

The Scribes and Pharisees bring an adulterous woman to Jesus. According to the Old Testament law adultery was punishable by death. Verse six informs us of the intent of the men that brought her to Jesus – they were trying to trip Him up. If He tells them to stone her, they could accuse Him of being an unforgiving killer; if He lets her go, then they will charge Him of not following the law of Moses. Their motives were lot love and compassion or even an attempt to follow the law. Their reasons were self-serving. By making Jesus look evil, they would look better. It sounds like American politics, but that is a whole different subject.

Jesus wrote some words in the dirt – the Bible does not tell us what He wrote – and said to the men, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jesus again prints in the dirt, and one by one, the men disperse.

Now, there is Jesus and the woman, alone. Jesus asks here where are her accusers. She tells Him, none are left. He then says to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Often, the casting the first stone comment is all we hear of this story. That quote is used many times over to show we are not to be judgmental. Jesus does tell her He will not condemn her, but He does address her sin, “Go and sin no more.” He shows love and compassion by not condemning her, but He also shows intolerance toward her sin.

The Apostle Paul speaks of restoration in Galatians 6:1, “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.” 

Notice the wording, the verses speak of restoration and a spirit of meekness; sounds like an intervention.

Jesus could not get the heart of the issue with the adulterous woman without bringing up her sin; we cannot help our brother, “overtaken in a fault” without discussing the fault. Sin, in one form or another, must be dealt with; Jesus died for the sins of the world; that is how God decided to deal with sin. 

The purpose of an intervention is to bring light upon the problem in a loving, caring way that will lead to restoration. A person cannot come to Jesus’ salvation without an acknowledgment of their sin. Why grab the life preserver is you are not drowning? In an attempt to not appear judgmental Christians are missing out on opportunities to show the love, forgiveness and saving power of Jesus Christ. 

Christians should love the sinner enough to tell them of God’s hatred for sin and how He sent His Son to die to bring sinners to restoration. God has intervened. 

Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. Email him at [email protected] Sermons and archived Preacher’s Points may be found at preacherspoint.wordpress.com.

 

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