A Study In Sin

Posted by Michael La Framboise on Saturday, February 2, 2013 Under: Meditations
The Bible has much to say about sin, and it also has much to say about how we deal with the sins of others when they are made known to us. Sin separates a person from God, and it can most certainly separate people from one another. However, so often in Scripture it becomes an occasion for both God and man to display love and grace. Admittedly, the Lord tends to be quicker to do this than man, but He sets an incredible example for man to follow and furthermore exhorts him to follow it.

Sin is presented in Scripture and experienced in life in three basic ways: Original sin, Prideful sin, and Personal sin. Original sin speaks of the sin nature with which we are born; our innate predisposition to sin. Prideful sin refers to those sins of which one has no conviction, leading to deception and hypocrisy. These sins can be very dangerous, and may cast shadows of doubt upon one’s salvation. On the contrary, Personal sin in a Christian’s life is accompanied by conviction, and concerning which is an inward spiritual struggle. They are the common struggles and temptations which all men face, and also particular vices which vary from person to person.

Scripture is sure to exhort us as to our response, both personally and interpersonally, concerning these three aspects of sin. Original sin is to be countered by the Gospel and our acceptance of it. A sinner is to be cleansed in the blood of Christ, reborn by the Spirit of God, and adopted as a child of the Heavenly Father. Fellow believers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are to love one another on the basis of God’s love for them.

Prideful sin is to be abhorred as a weapon of Satan. While the ultimate source of all sin is pride, Prideful sin is the result of an especially pride-filled heart and is rooted in deep hypocrisy. It can only be countered by spiritual brokenness evoked directly by the Holy Spirit. Fellow believers can only judge by behavior and actions, and are thus often misguided concerning a hypocrite’s true motives.  Prideful sin was the downfall of Achan and his family, as well as Annanias and his wife. Prideful sin does not concern the actions of a person as much as it concerns the hardness of their heart. Achan touched that which was dedicated to the Lord, and Annanias touched the glory of the Lord. Their Prideful sin defiled that which was holy unto God. In pride they lifted their hearts against the Lord Himself, and in both cases the consequence was death.

Personal sin can be public or private, committed against a single person, a congregation, or engaged in alone. Personal sin is countered by a devotional life, which being open to God is thereby open to the conviction of His Spirit. Personal sin is, therefore, readily dealt with by confession to Christ concerning sin committed privately, by confession to a wronged individual when sin is committed socially, or by public repentance when sin is committed against a congregation. Fellow believers are to respond graciously in response to a penitent brother or sister, forgiving freely, and in some cases frequently. Basically, these are sins of disobedience by a child of God before his Heavenly Father. The Father takes the initiative by His Spirit to bring conviction and correction; and God’s child makes it right toward those who may have been involved.

Let us further examine the behavior of Christians when one discovers a Personal sin of another which has not been directly committed against them, and which, I must emphasize, does not endanger the well-being of another. I reiterate, these are Personal sins, which may be embarrassing, but are not as Prideful sins can be, dangerous as such. In light of scandals, such as the cases of abuse by Catholic priests, I feel I must be very clear before I move on, lest anyone possibly misunderstand my following statements.

There are two counter responses to the disconnected personal sin of another: exposure and covering. When Noah was drunk and naked in his tent, his son, Ham, responded by exposing his father’s sin; while his other two sons, Shem and Japheth, responded by covering their father’s shame, entering Noah’s tent backward and covering him with a blanket. In John chapter 8 we read of a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. The Pharisees exposed her sin by casting her nakedly at Jesus’ feet; while the Christ Himself covered her shame and shielded her from accusation. These examples should suffice for our understanding of the heart of the Lord when the question is posed about “covering up sin.”

The Law declared that “none of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness.” (Leviticus 18:6) The New Testament bears witness to the spiritual application of this truth. Brothers and sisters in Christ must not seek to expose the shame of another. It is hate which stirs up strife, but it is love which seeks to cover up a multitude of sins. (Proverbs 10:12)  The wisdom of Solomon is perfectly applicable to the Church and Christians today. Christians are commanded to love one another, for this marks us as true disciples with true devotion. (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7) This love should compel us to cover a multitude of sins; because of course, love “thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity… [and] bears all things”! (1 Peter 4:8; James 5:20; 1 Corinthians 13:6-7)

Who would dare expose the sins of another, for is not Satan the Great Accuser? Who would join the ranks of that Old Serpent, the Devil, in becoming an instrument of destruction in his cunning hand? Yet some do the work of the enemy without a thought, and some even accomplish his evil will while cloaking their behavior in false humility and perverted holiness! They call their meetings and make their rounds spreading their gossip, all the while speaking of righteousness and purity, and of taking a stand by refusing to cover up sin! In their wake, a child of God is humiliated and ridiculed, their reputation slandered and ruined. Like Ham they laugh and scoff; like the Pharisees they turn up their nose and puff out the chest, breathing out condemnation like fire.

But this is not the way of the Lord, for “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ… Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:1, 33-34) Who brings the charge, who condemns, but the Devil and his minions. It is Christ who covers our sins by His own blood, and who would dare to trample upon such a precious ransom but one who despised the Ransomer?

Covering up Personal sin has nothing to do with the scandals which break when Prideful sins are allowed to fester. Prideful sin is the inward work of Satan. Personal sin is the natural work of the flesh. Upon discovering that a person is inflicting damage upon another, or that the glory of God is being diminished, a believer must act according to his first allegiance to Christ. However, upon discovering that a person has stumbled in their spiritual walk, yielded to some temptation, or has been caught in an ongoing struggle with some particular vice, a believer must seek the restoration of his brother or sister. Rather than shout some embarrassing sin from the rooftops and hinder the work of God in a person’s life, Christians are to act with the fidelity of Christ, the grace of God, and the gentleness of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Prideful hypocrite which cannot understand this basic testimony of Christ and His Word. It is the Prideful Hypocrite which looks down at others in harsh judgment, and is easily motivated by Satan to expose and humiliate some unfortunate soul in the Body of Christ, who somehow has found themselves in their sights. It is the Prideful Hypocrite who cries aloud the sins of another, who calls for action against one for whom Christ died. It is the child of the Devil himself who rises up in pride against God’s anointed people and Church, exposing the nakedness of their victims and bellowing such curses as I have heard- curses predictably clothed in disingenuous Bible quotes with the airy stench of hypocritical condescension!

I fear the damage and destruction which lies in the wake of Satan’s children is too great to fathom. With my own eyes I have witnessed their cunning schemes of wickedness, and their venomous tongues spitting forth the sins of others to the praise and glory of their unholy father. Churches are split and lives are broken! I have seen the havoc wreaked upon a life which so desperately needed to be enveloped in grace and covered by love. I have seen ministries and ministers stalled in the work; and Christians brought low, crawling away from the Church in shambles, never to feel they could ever serve the Lord again, let alone face their fellow church members. Where the Gates of Hell could not prevail, I have seen professing Christians succeed in the Devil’s work against Christ’s Church!

Adam sinned, and God covered him. Noah sinned, and was covered by those who loved him. Abraham sinned, but his faith was accounted for righteousness, and God covered him. Isaac sinned, yet in him was the Christ-seed called, for God covered him. Jacob sinned, yet the Lord called his name Israel, and covered him. Moses sinned, but stood on the Mount of Glory with the Christ who covered him. David sinned, and yet praised the Lord for not imputing to him his own iniquity, saying, “Blessed is he... whose sin is covered.”

Time would fail me to make an exhaustive list of the sinning saints whose sin was covered by the grace of God; yet I must briefly mention a few New Testament examples. Peter sinned and denied the Lord, and the other disciples fled; but they were covered by the blood and empowered by the Spirit. Paul was the chief of sinners, yet found shelter in the covering blood of Christ who gave Himself for him. John was there at the cross, and he witnessed that covering blood of which he wrote, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) No doubt John understood that loving fellowship among Christians is preceded by walking with God, and sustained by the continual cleansing and covering of Christ’s blood.

In 1 Peter 4:8, the old fisher-of-men declares, “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins;’” and we can certainly not expect to display this kind of powerful love if we have yet failed to have genuinely experienced it first from the hand of the Christ. If I have never experienced brokenness over my sin, and the joy of David in knowing that I have been forgiven and my sins have been covered, then I will certainly find it tenuous at best to show such love to others. That’s why the Lord calls us to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32-5:2) He calls us to cover the sins of others since our sins have been covered by Him. We are simply called to follow the example of Christ, and to follow in His steps. The Christ “who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Peter 2:21-24)

No doubt we are called to speak without guile and deception and maliciousness; for the Scripture specifically admonishes thus: “[Lay] aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.” (1 Peter 2:1) Only Prideful sin entrenched in a professed Christian’s life can lead to such dastardly behavior. The one who exposes the Personal sin of another only proves the Prideful sin which has taken deep root in their own heart. Paul explained that such hateful behavior may have been part of our lives before we were saved but it certainly has no part in our new life in Christ. (Titus 3:3) In fact, the New Testament is so full, so abundant with exhortations for believers to extend grace, mercy, and love, that for one to do otherwise can only prove that Jesus is not the Lord of their life, and it will be to such as them He utters: “Depart from Me, for I never knew you.”

Remember the Cities of Refuge from the Law of Moses? As the Body of Christ we are called be a refuge to fugitive sinners, and as the Living Temple of God we are to be a safe haven for those whose sins have sent them running for cover and grace. For the brother or sister who has failed and fallen, who is frustrated and frayed; for those who are condemned for their past sins, and looked down upon for their present condition- we need to be a refuge to them! We are called to display the fervent love of Christ by protecting our brother, not preaching at him; by loving our sister, instead of loathing her. We are expected to empower with our embrace; to cover with His grace.

Remember the parable of the lost son? When the prodigal came home, did the father sit down with the local tabloid and discuss the many disappointments he experienced with his son? No way, instead he covered his boy with his best robe and killed the fatted calf in celebration. Oh, how the love of God covers, and how angels celebrate a sinner covered by His grace!

Beware of the one who must have your ear to expose the sin of another; and be mindful yourself, if you do not have the fervent love for fellow believers which would compel you to “save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20) May we draw ever closer to the heart of God to learn His ways of sacrificial love and amazing grace; and may we distance ourselves from those who cause dissention and discord in the Body of Christ, for they are an abomination to the Lord and hateful to Him. (Proverbs 6:12-19; Romans 16:17)

In : Meditations 

Tags: sin  covering up sin  pride  hypocrisy  love  grace  church 
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