How we respond to sin in ourselves should always produce a sense of hatred and disgust. The thrust of those emotions must however be properly directed. The force of our response properly applied results in the God intended consequences of humbling and correcting us. But how we respond to the sin of others is perhaps one of the most misguided aspects of Christian living. Because all things work for the good of the believer, even the sin of others can, if properly evaluated, be a great help to us.
We are to always look mercifully upon those who are caught in sin, especially when they are brothers and sisters in Christ. Quite often, like the Pharisee, our initial response is to think we are above or immune to the very same fault. Though we may never verbalize it, we have, at least, a small tendency to look down upon them. Using David once again, we must always assume we are just as likely to commit the most vile sin as anyone else. Never place yourself in the category of immunity. Pride can infect even the most mature of believers and cause a greater injury when a fall does occur from such heights. Humility will protect you when your fall occurs, and it will.
God uses the sin of others for his glory. Particularly when the sinner is presumed to be an especially Godly person. Even the greatest of the biblical examples in scripture have been used by God to prove this point. As an exercise, think of the these examples from scripture. From Adam to Peter, God has provided examples how he glorifies himself from man’s failures. Now think of examples that you have personally experienced. Has even your pastor fallen before your eyes. Tragic as it may seem, these ordained servants of God prove themselves to be only human. Try as we might to place them in a category of immunity, they often fall in the greatest of sins. How they and we respond to that sin is most important to the proper utilization of Gods providence.
An experience that affected me most notably occurred while serving as a Ruling Elder. A pastor within my presbytery had been charged with adultery by the governing body. This otherwise godly man, a longtime shepherd of his flock, in a time of great weakness, had an affair with a woman in his congregation. We were asked by the judiciary committee to affirm their ruling in the matter. The man was to be defrocked from the ministry. Many tears were shed that day, as his wife stood before a room full of Elders, and acknowledged her forgiveness of her husband and their reconciliation. Though I could not know the mind of all the men in attendance, looking around I could see the pain and empathy on many faces. We knew that not one of us were immune from the very same predicament. For we were all merely men, sinners justly deserving God’s displeasure. If any could say they were never tempted or if tempted would certainly stand, they were under a delusion.
The sin of this one man served the Glory of God in a multitude of ways. Men were humbled, justice was served, and warnings were heeded. But even more moving was the evidence of God’s mercy. Though many scars would remain from deep wounds, reconciliation was had. The man was forgiven. His wife forgave him. The Church forgave him. God forgave him. Yes, he lost his calling and would never shepherd his flock again, but he received the mercy being wrapped in the loving arms of his wife, his brothers of that assembly, and his elder brother, Christ Jesus. By the outworking of his sin, many would profit. To God be the Glory.
Our response to Boston’s question, “Why the Lord suffereth sin to remain in the regenerate?”, must be tempered with caution. God’s providence does not give license for sin. We must never swing to the left and grant ourselves and others liberty in sin. This has been a great evil in the Church since the dawn of time. Though God allows sin to remain, we do not have authority to justify any transgression, whether by commission nor omission. We must only submit to God’s sovereignty in the matter. As Eli responded in the face of God’s sovereignty so must we say, “He is the LORD. Let him do what is right in His eyes.”
Boston has here provided a rare look at some reasons for why God has ordained the continuance of sin in his elect. As this blog is designed to assist the reader in their struggles in the faith, let me say, that in studying and writing these last four posts I have benefited greatly. If you struggle with sin then you are growing. The thrill of victory will come in the end, but the agony of defeat will make you stronger for the fight. Have joy and assurance in the fact that God grants you the fight.