Friday, June 28, 2002
A young Pharisee pastor has asked if I would address the issue of restoring backslidden or fallen sinners back into the fellowship. He was wondering if it was right for us to set conditions for their acceptance.
This question is succinctly answered in Luke 3:8 where John the Baptist tells the crowd to “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance . . .” If the Bible mandates a demonstration of fruits as evidence of repentance, how can we demand anything less?
If we want to maintain our reputation for spirituality and holiness, we must practice a zero tolerance for Sin. Keep in mind that I am not talking about minor peccadilloes but real sinful Sin. I am the first to admit that none of us is perfect and we would be hypocrites to make such a claim. However, it is important that we make a distinction between minor, insignificant sins and really big Sins. I commit sins (for which I seek the Lord’s forgiveness daily) but I would never conceive of committing a Sin. I am too far along in my spiritual maturity to succumb to any of the major Sins.
We need to realize that some sins are so bad, so egregious, so intolerable that we cannot overlook or countenance them without compromising our stand on holiness. These include the vile sins of murder, sexual excess or perversion of any sort, divorce and remarriage, imbibing of alcoholic beverages, smoking, dancing, attending movies and the like.
Some object to such a hard line stand and say that Christ’s blood covers all sins; past, present and future. While this is true, we can forgive wayward Pharisees without fellowshipping with them. We don’t condemn them; but we don’t consort with them either. Just because we tolerate them does not mean that we have to talk to them.
And of course restoration is our ultimate goal. If the repentant sinner evidences a true change of heart by a blameless and holy life for a sufficient length of time, we would naturally allow them back into our fellowship on a conditional basis.
They would be allowed to attend worship services and financially support the ministry but I would strongly advise against trusting them with any sort of real responsibility. After all, they may not even be true Pharisees. It is very possible that they have not truly repented and are simply pretending to be spiritual until the next time they fall into sin! We may give restored Pharisees a second chance as good Christians but I would never give anyone a third chance.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
II Corinthians 5:19-20 (NIV)
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