[forthright] When Christians Sin

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 16:06:30 -0600
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Square One

When Christians Sin
by Richard Mansel

Christians are told to "let your light so shine
before men, that they may see your good works and
glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16,
NKJV). We are commanded to be the best examples we
can be before the world. The Apostle Paul tells us
to "walk worthy of the calling with which you are
called" (Ephesians 4:1). The word "worthy" means
"suitability, bringing up the other beam of the
scales, bringing into equilibrium." /1 Our lives
must be consistent, as best we can in our
weaknesses, with the life Christ modeled before
us. Christians are to yield to a higher calling
and strive to live exemplary lives.

Christians, though, are still sinners in need of
repentance and the grace of God. Children of God
continue to sin, despite their best efforts not
to. The Apostle Paul said, "For the good that I
will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not
to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19). Peter said
to beware "fleshly lusts which war against the
soul" (1 Peter 2:11). Even as Christians, we are
constantly at war with Satan (Ephesians 6:10-12).
And Christians don't always win these wars
(Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31).

King David was a "man after God's own heart" (Acts
13:22). Yet, he was an adulterer, a liar, and
guilty of murder (2 Samuel 11). Peter was also a
liar (Luke 22:54-62). Paul called himself the
"chief of sinners" because he sent many Christians
to their deaths (1 Timothy 1:15; Acts 9:1,2). Yet,
these men were powerful proclaimers of God's Word
and great men of God.

One sad reality is that people who are not
disciples often carefully examine the lives of
Christians in search of flaws. If they can find
any sin in the lives of Christians, they will try
to capitalize on it. They will throw around the
word "hypocrite" and try to do damage to the cause
of Christ.

Sinners want to continue in their sin. Yet, not
all of them have silenced their consciences. They
know they are living sinful lives. Seeing
Christians reminds them of their sins. So, if they
can remove all vestiges of Christ from society and
somehow discredit all the Christians, then they
will hopefully, finally, feel good about their
sins. They can say that at least they haven't done
(whatever some Christians have done). Denial and
rationalization will get someone anywhere they
want to go.

This explains why Christians can stand peacefully
and quietly in a park holding signs calling
certain behaviors sin and be called terrible names
and threatened with physical violence. And why
certain aspects of sin cannot be brought before
the public because of the efforts of politicians
and activists. Consciences will be laid bare and
sinners simply cannot allow that to happen.  

Christians must try to live as God desires so
sinners will not have the excuses they need for
justification. Christians are to be glorifying God
and bringing people to Christ (Ephesians 3:20,21;
Matthew 28:18-20). These lofty goals cannot be
accomplished when we fall victim to the traps of
Satan (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11).

Christians must remain cognizant of their
weaknesses and how the blood of Christ continues
to cleanse (1 John 1:7). We must strive to lead
godly lives because we wear the name of Christ and
present his gospel to the world. When we sin, we
bring shame on ourselves, the church, God, and all
of his disciples. This burden must always be
before our minds and figure into all the decisions
we make. Humility will bring us to understand our
place in the larger picture and its effects on
God's plan.

1/ Harold Hoehner, Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker
Academic, 2002), 504.         

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