Love The One In Sin
God shows His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God has proven time and again that though He cannot tolerate sin; He dearly loves every man (John 3:16). Yet man has continued to fall short with sin through poor choices (Romans 3:23). But thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 9:15) and the good news of Him in the gospel – which if obeyed can save us from our sin (Romans 1:16).
To the Christian, who also loves and cares for his fellow man and has a passion for his soul, it is still sometimes difficult to tell him when he is wrong. However, it frequently falls upon the Christian to point out and correct the sin or error in someone else's life (2 Timothy 4:2; Galatians 6:1; Matthew 7:5). It is not an enjoyable task, but it is an essential one. We can, after all, save one from sin in bringing them back to faithfulness (James 5:19-20).
To show others their transgression is evidence of our love for their souls. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul in essence sends rebuke to two different parties. He obviously rebuked the incestuous fornicator but also upbraided the church for their toleration of him. Later in 2 Corinthians, Paul explains his motivation in chastising them, "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you" (2:4) (NKJV). From this passage, it is evident that the apostle did not enjoy having to reprove and rebuke them. However, because of his abundant love for them, he was compelled to bring their sin to the forefront.
As a result of our love for those who become unfaithful, we ought to be driven to restore them to their first love. Again, it is never easy. It wasn't easy for Paul! In 2 Corinthians 7:8, Paul explained his disposition: "For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while". Paul is not speaking out of both sides of his mouth when he here says, "I do not regret it; though I did regret it." He is using the term "regret" in two different senses. Paul had many tearful regrets about sending a letter which exposed the immoral activity of a man and the lack of love of an entire church -- it burdened his heart deeply. However in another sense, he did not regret his action. His desire was to produce godly sorrow that would lead them to repent (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
It is never a joy to see someone in sin, but it is a great joy to see sinners repent. Let us endeavor to be the kind of mature Christian that Paul was and hate the sin while loving the sinner! We must expose the sin in genuine love for the soul of the sinner. The seriousness of the matter is seen in that precious souls are at stake! The inspired words of James are fitting at this point: "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).
- Cody Damron