What do you do when you are hurt by the sinful actions of others?
Authors Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp provide us with examples of people who are hurt by the sinful actions of others. As you read these stories, you will perhaps identify some of the feelings of frustration that can arise when others sin against us. For some, enduring the continued sinful behavior from others can become more than they can bear.
Example 1: John and Cindy’s marriage is calm, but it is falling apart on the inside. John feels that Cindy doesn’t appreciate his involvement or honor his role as her husband, Cindy feels disrespected by John. He doesn’t ask for her input on crucial decisions. She finds out about them after the fact. Recenfly, John bought a car for their teenage son. Cindy found out about it when father and son drove ut up the driveway. This fueld the bitterness she has harbored for most of their marrige. John and Cindy’s pattern has existed for a long time. Jon thinks the marriage may be over. Though John and Cindy profess faith in Christ, attend church regularly, and pray together as a family, the facade is getting harder to hold together. At amy moment it could come tumbling down. (Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane, How People Change (New Growth Press: Canada, 2008), 17-18.
Example 2: Joan and Bryan married very young. They joked that they would grow up together. Joan grew up, but Bryan didn’t. After ten years of marriage, he still approached life like a teenager. He spent too much time with “the guys: and too much money on his “man toys.” He took as many hunting and fishing vacations without Joan as he took family vacations with her. He went from job to job because he was never focused on his work. He and Joan were always in debt. Bryan said he was a Christian, but he seemed ready to avoid Christian responsibility whenever he could
Joan tried everything to turn Bryan into a responsible man. She tried to make their marriage work. She made their home comfortable and even dragged Bryan to counseling on several occasions. Nothing seemed to help. Bryan was immature and self-absorbed. One day, in desperation, Joan packed up, took their two daughters and drove cross-country to her mother’s. Six months later, she filed for divorce because she could just not go back to “that selfish man.” (Tripp/Lane, 31).
Such are the problems facing many Christians today.
Someone is treating you badly.
What do you do?
Many well intentioned Christians say, I guess that I just have to put up with it. It’s “my cross to bear.”
And so, we put up with a husband’s abusive language,
a teenage child’s rebellious behavior,
a wife’s contentious attitude,
a friends continual gossip,
a disrespectful pastor, or
someone who repeatedly hurts you.
We come to believe that they will never change, and so we must simply endure. That is until we are so miserable and frustrated that we quit.
Walk away from a marriage
Walk away from a relationship
Walk away from a church
Today I want to share with you that you are not resigned to simply endure the abusive, sinful behavior of others. God provides a pattern of confrontation so that the sinner can become obedient to the Lord.
“Taking up your cross” does NOT mean accepting the sinful behavior of others without confrontation. Luke 14:27 "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
“Bear your cross” means to die to self. Take self off of the throne. It is a symbol of DEATH, not pacifism.
1 - God does not want you to be sinned against
2- God does not want that sinner to continue in their sin!
There are TWO Responses when Someone Sins Against You.
The first is your INTERNAL Response.
For example, we must trust God
We must show grace by not responding in anger or retaliation
We must be patient in suffering. 1 Peter 2:19–20 "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. " "For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God." 1 Peter 2:23 "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly."
We must recognize God’s greater purposes in your life. He can bring about good for you even through the abuses and sinful behavior of others.
But our internal response is only one part.
There is also your EXTERNAL Response.
Many of us are far better at our INTERNAL Response
We know more about it
It seems like the “Christian” thing to do
We don’t want to confront the other person
We don’t know how to confront the other person
This sermon focuses on the EXTERNAL response. It’s not that the internal response is not important. It certainly is. But it’s the response that we most often focus on, and if we focus on it to the exclusion of the God ordained external response of godly confrontation, we will put ourselves in the position of being a perpetual victim and we will miss the opportunity of helping another believer overcome their own sinful tendencies.
God desires for the sinner to Change
When we say “He won’t change,” we neglect the power of God. We neglect the power of the Gospel. We cast doubt on the many passages that teach us how to deal with discipline. We abandon the sinner to continue in his/her sin.
The change happens through other people. Paul Trip and Timothy Lane say it this way: “Change is a community project” (Tripp and Lane, “How People Change.”)
GOD INSTRUCTS US ON DIFFERENT KINDS OF RELATIONSHIPS
The most familiar is Matthew 18. The circumstance here is someone sinning against you. Matthew 18:15 "“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother."
This is SIN, not hurt feelings. We often talk about people “offending us” and in so doing we are referring to times when our feelings are hurt. But that phrase, “offends you” is from the KJV translation of this verse. It has no connection to having hurt feelings, but rather, the “offense” is the offense of sin. A better way to translate this is the way that almost every modern translation does, “if your brother sins against you.
Christ’s command in such a situation involves four steps:
1. Go privately and show him his fault. 18:15. If the sinner will not listen, then go to step 2:
2. Go with a witness. 18:16. If that does not produce a changed heart, then
3. Tell it to the Church. 18:17. Finally, if there is not repentance,
4. Treat him as an unbeliever
NOTE: The part about this that was HARD for the disciples to understand was NOT the part about “Treat him as an unbeliever.” It was the part about “Forgive your brother!” When Jesus concluded this teaching about confrontation with a sinner who did not repent, Peter’s follow-up question was not about confrontation. It was about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21)
A SECOND circumstance that requires confrontation with a fellow Christian is found in Matthew 5: 23-24. This circumstance is WHEN SOMEONE HAS SOMETHING AGAINST YOU.
The instruction is to “Leave your gift at the altar.” Then, “go and be reconciled.”
Here, the circumstance is the awareness that there is a broken relationship between you and a fellow worshiper.
A THIRD circumstance that requires confrontation with a fellow Christian is found in Galatians 6:1-2.
When circumstance is WHEN SOMEONE IS OVERTAKEN IN A FAULT
This differs from Matthew 18, because the sin is not necessarily against you. This kind of confrontation requires a great degree of humility.
A FOURTH circumstance that requires confrontation with a fellow Christian is found in Romans 16:17. This is WHEN SOMEONE CAUSES DIVISION IN THE CHURCH.
Romans 16:17 "I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them."
A FIFTH circumstance that requires confrontation with a fellow Christian is found 1 Timothy 5:19 "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses."
This circumstance is WHEN A PASTOR HAS SINNED. Here, the requirements of Matthew 18 concerning going to the offender privately seem to be bypassed. This is likely because of the significance of the pastoral office. Note that the passage does not imply that pastors do not sin, nor that confrontation with a pastor is forbidden. Rather, Paul provides guidelines for Timothy and the believers in the Ephesian church aimed at maintaining the significance of the pastoral office, while still providing a way for believers to bring confrontation.
The point of these five differing circumstances is to demonstrate that there several differing methods for confronting sin. It is not a “one size fits all” situation.
Why Do we need OTHER CHRISTIANS to help correct our sin?
#1. When we fall into sin we are BLINDED by Satan.
Satan is the Great DECEIVER. 2 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:6
2 Timothy 2:24 "And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,"
#2. We need a “seeing eye.” Luke 6:39. Unless someone else opens our eyes, we will continue in our sin. Luke 6:39 "He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?"
#3. When we are being deceived, we want things that are contradictory!
There is a song that QUEEN recorded in 1989, “I want it all, and I want it now”
So I'm living it all, yes I'm living it all,
And I'm giving it all, and I'm giving it all,
It ain't much I'm asking, if you want the truth,
Here's to the future, hear the cry of youth,
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now,
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now,
When we have fallen into sin, we want multiple contradictory things:
We want our SIN,
We want no CONSEQUENCE
We want others to APPROVE
We want others to THINK WELL of us
Tripp and Lane write,
Human beings are worshipers; they will always worship something. Apart from God’s grace, they will always choose something IN creation over the Creator... The typical pattern of false worship include:
The physical is more important than the spiritual
The temporal is more valuable than the eternal
Relationship with a person is more satisfying than relationship with God
My desires overrule what God says I need. (Paul Tripp, Timothy Lane, How People Change, 204).
Those who are NOT BLINDED are needed to speak reality to hinder the sinner before they continue in their sin.
HOW IS THIS DONE?
There are at least four types of confrontation
This is the Greek noutheteo, “To impart understanding”
Focus is changing someone’s will
2 Th 3:15 “Warn him as a brother”
This is the Greek epitimao, “To correct wrongful actions”
Focus is a change in behavior
2 Tim 4:2 “reprove, rebuke, exhort...”
This is the Greek Elegcho, “To expose or bring to light”
Matt 18:15 “go and show him his fault”
This is the Greek paideuo
“To bring up, train, correct, give guidance”
2 Tim 2:25 “gently instruct”
We Need One Another
We must involve the BODY.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH is not a game of SOLITAIRE.
For a Believer. You are not to suffer alone. God desires JUSTICE.
Check your heart
If the sinner does not repent, the CHURCH is called on to respond, to turn the sinner from their sin.
Our church theme for 2016 “Connecting”
imagine working for weeks on a Jigsaw puzzle. After maticulous work, matching, sorting, you come to the last 20 or so pieces and realize that there is ONE PIECE MISSING!
What do you notice? The finished puzzle, or rather The MISSING PIECE!
We must utilize the strength God intends through the BODY of CHRIST. There should be no missing pieces. Sometimes, it is necessary to bring about confrontation, not so that you feel better and are happy, but so that relationships are restored, and sinners are brought back to obedience.