“Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
(Romans 1:32 ESV)
We live in a time when sin is not only accepted, but celebrated. We’re encouraged to embrace our own sinful desires and live in them. And, in the same way, we’re expected to endorse the sinful decisions and activities of others.
As we look to Scripture, we find that these are things we must not do. We must not embrace our own sinful desires. We must not seek to live in them. And, in the same way, we must not give approval to the sinful activity of those around us.
We must not do this because, as we see above, sin leads to death. Physical, as well as eternal death, is the consequence of sin. And I think it’s safe to say that we don’t desire our own death nor that of others.
This, then, creates a tension when it comes to our interaction with one another. It does so because we’re called to reach out to mankind with the gospel message. And, if people feel condemned by us, if they feel we’re looking down upon them, they have little desire to listen to us.
How do we bridge that gap? How do we reach out to others and, at the same time, reject sin? The key, I believe, is to avoid the “us” versus “them” mentality.
Our tendency is to focus on the sin of others while ignoring our own. Our tendency is to count our own sin as insignificant while, at the same time, we count the sin of others to be major. And we must recognize, first and foremost, that we’re just as sinful as everyone else. We must recognize that our sin condemns us to death and eternal judgment.
We must openly live a life of confession and faith. We must willingly acknowledge to ourselves and others our guilt and our need for a Savior. We must embrace Jesus personally and publicly because he atoned for the penalty of our sin.
As we reject the sin of others, we must ensure that we’re just as vocally rejecting our own. As we condemn the sin of others, we must ensure that we’re just as vocally condemning our own. We must make it clear that we are not better than anyone else. We must make it clear that we are not less sinful or more deserving of God’s blessing. We must make it clear that, apart from Jesus’ sacrifice, and apart from faith in him, we are equally lost.
Like the apostle Paul, we must count ourselves to be the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16). We must see and understand the miracle of his salvation in our own life. And we must communicate this as we reach out to those around us. We must communicate the gospel in this way: If Jesus can save a sinner like me, then he can certainly save a sinner like you.