After writing about the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, I began thinking and writing about the arrival of post-Christian America when a reader asked a great and difficult question:
“What do we do if, as a Christian, what we consider “sin” is acceptable in other areas of society?”
What we do with sin regardless of how society looks upon it depends largely on who we’re dealing with because it’s impossible to hold an unbelieving world to the standards and accountability of a believer of Jesus Christ and His teaching.
For the non-believer
We strive to build genuine relationships in spite of our differences. I never ever want anyone to even imagine that my friendship hinges on whether or not they follow Christ, or that they ever will. That work is between their heart and the Holy Spirit, our duty is to love unconditionally (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
What you do want is for people in your life of all belief systems, or even of none at all to know what unconditional love looks like. It can look a lot like being a loyal, loving and trustworthy friend to someone whose life significantly differs from yours.
Admittedly, this doesn’t always work because what I’m finding out the hard way is that my closest friends with whom my personal convictions most vastly differ are expecting my tolerance and approval, but are becoming vocally intolerant of my beliefs. Despite my confirming that regardless of their life choices, my love and value for them as friends hasn’t changed, but some of these friendships are sadly ending.
But it won’t change my thinking or stop me from trying.Love can look a lot like being a friend to someone whose life significantly differs from yours.Click To Tweet
Sin In the Life of a Christian
First off, Christians sin. Daily. The sooner we get that out of the way, the better. What we need to understand though is that there is an enormous difference between a Christian who loses their temper and flips someone the bird on the highway and a Christian living inside daily, habitual, consuming sin.
In the life of a fellow Christian who is living in or who is accepting of sin, we provide counsel and accountability that is grounded in scripture, following the biblical model of working to “correct a brother” (Matthew 18:15-17), but as you and I both know not every “brother” or “sister” sees the need for correction.
In a worse case scenario, I would have to follow the biblical model of some form of separation from that person, perhaps limited interaction and even up to cutting off the relationship all together (1 Timothy 5:20, Acts 20:28).
That would be a pretty bad scenario, but Romans does teach us that even God “turns some over to their own sin” (Romans 1:24-25).
So, what exactly is sin?
Sin, by definition is rebellion against God (1 John 3:4) and sin is unrighteousness (1 John 5:17). Many of us are programmed by our culture to categorize some sins as being “worse than others.”
We view our lives against the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-20) and justify ourselves as being “not as bad as others.” After all, you and I haven’t murdered anyone, right? Or have we? (Matthew 5:21-42)It's impossible to hold an unbelieving world to the same standards as the believer.Click To Tweet
In the original texts of the Bible, sin literally means “to miss the mark,” so when Paul writes in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” we begin to get a clear picture that we are all sinners. This is further illustrated in Romans 3:10 and in Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:3.
Once you and I comprehend that God even has a “mark” and that we’ve missed it, the Good News is that because of Jesus, there is forgiveness: “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:5).
Overcoming the World
“Victory” is not a subject often spoken of in the New Testament yet one thing stands clear: faith in Jesus is the one, true victory that can be achieved:
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)
And that, because Jesus Himself overcame the world:
“But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)