“And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes” (Ezekiel 36:23).
A number of years ago, my husband were acquainted with a girl about 10 years old, someone from a very troubled family. She had been befriended by many Christians on her side of town. She participated in numerous activities for kids and had had lessons in the Bible. One day my husband was giving her a ride home and they passed by a fellow who was a part of this Christian crowd. He was known as hard-working guy, a mellow and reliable friend. The girl said,
“There’s your friend. I see him coming out of the adult book store a lot.” She was clearly confused. She asked if this man was truly a Christian.
Within a few years, this young girl, a still a teen, took up the life of a lesbian. Her closest friend became a girlfriend in a very different way. At one point, she stole a police car that had been left running while the officer was elsewhere and went for a joy ride, eventually crashing into other cars. (She was unharmed.)
Sure she had grown up in the lower ranks of the socio-economic scale. And her mother was a prescription drug addict. Rough start in life. But she was not without the essentials of life. The Lord had laid many blessings on her—material, emotional and spiritual.
How does a young, impressionable soul reconcile truth with lies, or promises of reward and blessing for godly living with blatant immorality? It is likely she had imbibed the theology of cheap grace, too. That was rampant amongst this church crowd.
And the Christian man who imbibed porn? Yes, we all have a sin or sins that easily beset us. But we must remember there are witnesses here as well as in heaven. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us in this way:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
And, Paul wrote, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
What should Christians—either formally constituted as a church, or simply a group of loosely affiliated friends, do, when they realize one of their own routinely dabbles in sin? Some in this group were aware of what was going on. 1 Corinthians chapter 5 lays out the appropriate reaction very succinctly.
But that passage of Scripture offends us. We’ve all sinned, too, and don’t like to be thought of as hypocrites. And the American persona values niceness above all. Then there is that ridiculous thing called tolerance which effectively precludes our confronting sin. Where does this leave us?
It leads to churches and Christians who have become irrelevant. This is what puts out the light. Only one part of our bodies need suffer and the whole body feels agony. A broken toe can disable an entire person. High fashion will not improve the looks of someone who hasn’t bathed in a month.
Every aspect of a person matters and that’s why the Body of Christ’s must maintain purity throughout. We are so quick to castigate the preachers in churches who won’t confront their congregants about sin and repentance. Yet those same congregants insist on clinging to their private sin. They simply will not listen and respond.
Here is the fundamental precept we must take seriously in our corporate and individual lives:
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
We would all love to see a great advance of Christ’s kingdom. Multitudes of heathens racing in repentance to the Cross, enthusiastically laying aside their lives to take up their cross and follow Him. What a glorious vision!
But how can we think that will happen with the worldlings around us when church-going, so-called Christians can’t put aside their filth?
The Lord is faithful.