Summary: This sermon examines Christian responsibility when dealing with a fellow believer who has fallen into sin.
WHEN A FRIEND FALLS
Perhaps there is not a more beautiful story told than that of the Good Samaritan. Here is the story of a man who falls upon bad times. He is robbed, beaten and left for dead. He lies beside the road, unable to help himself. He is totally dependent on someone to come to his aid. Along comes a Levite. He sees the man in need, but does not lend a helping hand. Then comes the priest. He too passes by on the other side. Finally, a hated, half-breed Samaritan passes by. He sees the man and has compassion on him. He binds his wounds and takes him to an inn. Here, he pays for his upkeep.
In him, we see a picture of each of us and the ever-present possibility that we might fall into some misfortune. I think of how the priest and Levite can be reborn into many Christians who are quick to judge and turn their backs on fellow believers who fall into some misfortune or sin. It has been said that Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded. Instead of helping each other out of the ditch, we are quick to kick each other farther down into the ditch. With no biblical precedent, we conclude that the mistakes of a fellow believer are unpardonable sins and in essence tell them God cannot use them anymore. We as much as turn them out of the church, though not literally. How sad that we are so quick to judge and so long on forgiveness.
We must remember that sin is a reality in every Christian's life. The Bible says; “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8) While the Christian will not make a practice of sinning, it is a reality that we do sin. Sin is sin in God's eyes, and we should not be guilty of classifying some as greater than others when we have no reason to do so. When we look at the Christian friend who has fallen into sin, we should say to ourselves; “If it was not for the grace of God, that might be me.”
If we were not subject to sin, we would not need the full armor of God that the Bible tells us to wear. When we sin, it affects us, others and our relationship with God. When we sin, we lose that inner joy and peace. The fruit of the Spirit will not be evident in our life. It can destroy our usefulness and inhibit the ministry of the spiritual gifts. Our sin affects God. It grieves his Holy Spirit that resides in us. Our sin also affects other believers. Because we are all a part of the body of Christ, what affects one affects all. Sin by Christians violates the purity and unity of God's church.
The Bible instructs God's people to be holy. This must take place individually and corporately. The mission of the church must be to honor and glorify God, but this cannot take place if his people are not living righteous lives. We must be like him in character if the world is to take notice. Holiness and purity must be the supreme priority of the church. We must grow in Christlikeness. This does not mean we are to be self-righteous as the religious leaders of Jesus' day were. Our attempt to live holy lives must be an honest attempt.
Our greatest concern should be for the believer who is sinning or has fallen into sin. It should not surprise us to see the unsaved sinning, for they are merely manifesting the fruits of their unredeemed nature. It is only natural for them to sin. It should shock us to see Christians sin. It is serious business when a Christian sins, for the effects do not stop with that Christian. We have a redeemed nature, and sinning is contrary to that nature. It is not to say that we will not sin, but it should be out of the ordinary.
Jesus even said the church should confront the sinning Christian who refuses to repent. It should be done in private first. If that does not work, two or more are to confront the erring Christian. If this does not work, the person should be brought before the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, he should be turned out. This is not done in a spirit of judgment or out of spite. It is done because we know how serious it is when a Christian commits a sin and we are seeking their restoration. The effects never stop with that person. It is impossible for a church to have a healthy ministry when it has Christians who are not living holy and righteous lives.