“Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on:
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.
I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—
of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.
And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—
to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.”
– 1 Timothy 1:15-16 MSG
There is a tendency to think that – because I have sinned, therefore God does not like me, doesn’t want me, and, boy is He miffed at me! But that is not what the Bible teaches. That is not what Jesus practiced. So why are folks so condemning of people who fail!?
Presently God is not into the condemning thing at all. Regrettably, some Christians and churches are very judgemental – but Jesus is not. In fact, God loved us to the extreme extent that He determined, even before the creation of the world, to have Jesus come to earth to die for us. His love for us is shown by the fact that He actually died for us – while we were all still sinners! (Romans 5:8)
At this time in God’s plan of the ages for us, God is not condemning sinners. THAT will come later! Currently God is trying to get our attention to get us to accept Him before it is too late! Right now the Holy Spirit is working to convict sinners of their need to be forgiven — even while thick-in-sin.
The well-known story of the prostitute brought to Jesus (John 8:1-11) ought to dispel the “God is miffed at me” tendency. But it seems to be human nature to self-talk yourself down:
“When I am bad, then I am sad
– and everyone hates me.
Since God is holy
and I am not,
He will be looking for someone better than I.”
Ever feel like that yourself? But take a look at Jesus. Jesus did not condemn the prostitute. That is opposite to what we think.
After all her condemners had left…
Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they?
Did no one condemn you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either.
Go. From now on sin no more.”
– John 8:verses 10-11
What we learn from Jesus when dealing with sinners:
1. Jesus rebuked those who shame sinners and those who condemn people when they are down. Shaming and condemning and putting-down and insulting, and hating-on someone — is not the way of Jesus. Sin is shameful, but how did Jesus react to shameful acts? He was full of compassion.
2. Jesus modeled how we should deal with sinners. If we are following Him – this is our model:
(a) Jesus mingled with sinners. He was very comfortable socializing with sinners. He was very accepting of the sinful person [Mark 2:verses 14-17; Luke 15].
(b) Jesus did not condemn and put-down common sinners [John 8:1-11].
(c) However, Jesus did rebuke and correct hypocrites and false teachers, those who say one thing – but do another, those who teach evil. Jesus said to false teachers, to their face even: “you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (See complete passage: Matthew 23) Jesus warned us:
“…do not do
according to their deeds;
for they say things
and do not do them”
– Matthew 23:verse 3
3. Jesus explained what sinners should do [John 8:verses 10-11]. Sinners (you, me, anyone…) should:
(a) Get up and get-on with your life after you have sinned. Other passages on this:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves
from all defilement of flesh and spirit,
in the fear of God.
– 2 Corinthians 7:1
12 Not that I have already obtained it
or have already become perfect,
but I press on
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind
and reaching forward
to what lies ahead,
14 I press on
toward the goal
for the prize
of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:12-14
(b) Now that that sinful act is past – “From now on, don’t sin“. Throughout His life, Jesus did not “give sinners a pass” on their sin. He acknowledged them lovingly (even when caught, fresh from their sin!) and He said (basically):
Hey – there is a better way.
Don’t settle for sinning!
Jesus’ teaching was:
I do not condemn you for having sinned.
Don’t wallow in your sin.
Get on with living
don’t continue in that sin.
(My paraphrase of John 8:verses 10-11)
Sin is horrible. Heinous. No matter what “grade” or degradation level we try to label it:
Degrees of Sin1 See footnote at end of article
1I can deal with that/ 2not really all that bad/ 3not so good/ 4unacceptable/ 5bad/ 6really really bad/ 7evil/ 8Really BAD/ 9horrible/ 10heinous/
Look at what sin does to you! Look at what it leaves behind in your wake! But Jesus has compassion on us sinners, no matter what sin level we think we are at. And so should we be – compassionate – with other fellow sinners. It is not our job – to condemn anyone. That is God’s job! And that is the government’s job.
We must be reminded, however, that God has promised that That Day of accounting will come. The Great White Throne Judgement will happen soon enough! (But not here on earth.) Following the example of Jesus, we should:
- Stop dragging sinners into the spotlight; stop hating on them; stop shaming them for having failed.
- Be loving and compassionate towards sinners.
- When we have an appropriate moment with someone in sin:
(1) Show compassion;
(2) In an accepting manner, express that Jesus wants us to be more and more like Him. Share the Gospel.
- My favorite passage, full of compassion, to share with someone in sin:
Draw near to God
and He will draw near to you.
– James 4:8a
It is good to look at the personal stories of real people in the Bible, and perhaps at some born again Christians around you. Scripture actually teaches: If I come to Jesus in repentance — He accepts me just as I am, and wants me to actively, personally pursue Him, and serve Him. If I do not accept Him, He will continue to work in me nonetheless, however — eventually He will leave me to my willful ways.
Willful Sinners Who Turned to God: These sinned greatly, but then repented and God blessed them.
King David, Jonah, Rahab, Peter, Thief on the Cross, Liz Curtis Higgs…
What they did… murder by contract/lured to have killed, lust, voyeurism, adultery, fornication; refusing God’s request, hating a people group; prostitution; though a chosen disciple of Christ – three times he denied he knew Jesus; declared guilty of crimes and hung on a Roman cross; lived a promiscuous lifestyle.
Willful Sinners Who Failed to Turn to God: These went away from God – without repenting, and remained under condemnation.
Cain – son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother; Judas – traitorous disciple, did not repent; Pilate the governor – who condemned Jesus to die; King Agrippa who said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.“; Rich Young Ruler – was sad but kept his god, riches – and left Jesus…
No matter your sin. No matter the gravity of it. No matter how many years. No matter if you are born again or actively atheist…. God loves you, is calling you to Himself, and He wants you to repent and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. He wants you to follow Him. 1
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