Today I write to church members who have ongoing, perhaps hidden sin in their lives. My hunch is that may be more members than I imagine in many churches, and I want to challenge us to fight against being this kind of church member. Here’s why your ongoing sin can hurt your church:
- None of us sins in isolation. Achan’s sin brought judgment on all his family (Josh. 7). David’s sin with Bathsheba led to the loss of a child (2 Sam. 12). His sin in taking a census brought a plague on the entire nation (1 Chron. 21). Because the church is God’s body, one person’s weakness affects everyone even though we may not know how that happens (1 Cor. 12).
- You rob the church of God’s blessings. To put it simply, God does not bless hypocrisy. He hates your sin, and He does not tolerate sin in the camp. You may think your sin is not affecting your church, but God is not going to pour out His blessings on a sinful people.
- Your sin weakens your prayer life, which weakens the overall prayer ministry of your church. Isaiah 59:1-2 tell us that God does not listen to our prayers when we are living in sin. That means that your church can offer fewer powerful, effective prayers if sin is controlling your life.
- You’re less likely to be evangelistic if you’re living in sin. Few people reach out and tell others about the good news of Jesus when they’re living a secret life. Thus, the outreach of your church loses potential if you’re one of those persons.
- Your family won’t be as strong. I realize this one may be offensive to some people living in sin, but none of us can expect God to bless our families when we who lead them are ignoring God’s standards. We rob our family of the best mom or dad, and we rob our church of the best family when we live only according to our own standards.
- Your church’s worship will be less potent. Unless you’re just a great hypocrite (and that’s an even bigger problem if you are), you won’t be able to worship freely and powerfully as long as there’s sin in your life. You’ll be faking it, and that doesn’t help your church worship God.
- You risk forcing the church to do church discipline. Of course, this drastic step would mean that your sin is now public and that you are unrepentant – so I pray your situation never gets there. If it does, though, church discipline itself can become divisive for a church.
If you’re living in hidden sin today, I challenge you to confess your sin, get it out of the darkness, and follow God fully.
First appeared here
Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.