It seems there is a common problem that many Christians have these days that is neither helpful nor fulfilling the call of the Gospel. It is this desire that we have to correct everyone’s morality.
Unfortunately, this desire to correct the morality of those around us usually coincides with a blindness to our own failings and faults. Before you get too offended at what I’m saying, let me explain myself a bit. First of all, we should not be shocked when sinners sin.
We should be well aware of the fact that mankind is sinful by nature. Even as David said, “In sin did my mother conceive me…” (Psalm 51:5) So, why are we so shocked when a person who does not know God sins in our presence? When this happens, how do we react? Do we tell them we’re offended? The truth is, this person does not need my morality. They need to know my Lord. My correcting their morality will not help them. In fact, if I correct their morality without sharing with them the Gospel, it’s like giving a murderer a stick of gum for his bad breath. The solution isn’t moral, but spiritual. Consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5…
1 Corinthians 5:
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
It’s clear from Paul’s words here that our concern for sin should be regarding sin in the local church, not sin in lives of those who don’t know God. My first concern for sin should be in my own life. We would be wise to note that Jesus said when we are attempting to remove the “speck in [our] brother’s eye” we should first “remove the beam in [our] own eye.” Then we can see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5) So, the first concern I should have for sin is the sin in my own life. And secondly, I am to be concerned regarding sin in the Church. This is a stern warning Paul gives here because it was dealing with a very serious sin in the Church- publicly known sexual immorality which had not been confronted in any way. So, the second concern we must have is sin in the body. However, we are nowhere in Scripture instructed to correct the morality of those who do not know or claim Christ. The main thing they need from us is the Gospel. They also need love and empathy from us. After all, if not for God’s grace, that person could be you. But God had pity upon you. Otherwise you’d be sinning right along side them. This should inspire compassion, love, and empathy.
This thought brings up another serious issue we face in many Christian circles and that is what many refer to as the “social gospel.” The social gospel has as one of its goals the redemption of the structures of our society, such as the government, the courts, and the political process, and it communicates a desire to basically create a utopia of sorts here on earth (a heaven on earth). The thought is that we can save our nation by saving the society and its structures. Of course, the trouble with this is that the goal of the Gospel is not to save societies or political structures. The goal of the Gospel is to save people. The problem with a social gospel is that it places the need for revival on the political system itself or the nation as a whole, but that is not where Scripture says revival is needed. You can’t revive that which was never alive to begin with. Governments and political processes can’t be redeemed by the Gospel, but people CAN be. People are not saved through political reform. People are saved by hearing the Gospel, God moving within them, and responding in faith. And as for revival, Scripture makes it clear. Revival begins in the hearts of God’s people. It is the Church in America that needs revival. We, the Christian people of America, are responsible for the condition of this nation. We can blame whatever group we like, but the truth is that we need an awakening ourselves. We need to repent and return to the Lord.
So, my friends, throw away your morality police badge. Focus your moral policing on yourself. Pray David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) Seek the face of God. Pray for our leaders. Love and pray for those who do not know God and seek for opportunities to lovingly share the message of the Gospel with them.
One final thought here as a sort of disclaimer… I am not saying by this article that Christians should ignore sin, condone sin, or wink at it in some way. I am also not saying that we should not stand for what we believe. Furthermore, I am not saying we should not stand against sin in America as a matter of principle. I am simply saying that no sinful person will ever be saved by our political statements or our offering some kind of outward corrective for their morality. People are saved by the power of God working through His children to open their mouths and lovingly share the Gospel, and their morality is corrected by an inward act of God after they have come to know Him. And nations are preserved through the revival, prayers, and holy lives of God’s people.
D. Courtney Hill