Friday, March 7, 2014


Can Christians Continue in Both Love and Sin?

In part one of this series of posts, the Bible told us how wonderful, courageous and strong love is and part two was about how vicious sin is. Therefore, how do we as Christians reconcile living with a heart full of love and a body still struggling with sin? Can we sinners be okay with sinning and still be okay with God?

Let’s not care what I think. Because frankly if it were me no one would ever go to hell. I would open up the pearly gates and invite everyone in for High Tea then a masquerade ball with a full orchestra playing waltzes....forever. However, last I heard, Heaven isn’t about what I want. In fact, I don’t even get a vote (and those of you who hate musicals will be glad of that). And also I am wee little brain that knows nothing, so I will trust God about who gets in and who doesn’t as well as what we do there.

Therefore, let us go to the Word of God in order to find out what God wants us to do about sin and love and if they are compatible in the Christian.

St. John, who is my favorite gospel writer, who is also the most compassionate and by far speaks the most on love, actually is quite strong on this subject. 

....the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil...By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:8, 10.
That’s pretty strong. To soften what he said, I tend to look at the technical verbiage of “practice.” Practice: like you would the piano to get good at it. Therefore, of course no true Christian is going to practice sin. At the same time St. John says we are to practice righteousness. Again, to be consistent with my view I would have to think that practicing righteousness is like practicing the piano, to get good at it.

As St. John aged, he didn’t soften. Let’s look at what he wrote in the book of Revelation. He is quoting Jesus here: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” Rev. 3: 19

I can tell you that text has scared me ever since I was a kid. If God loves us, we should be prepared for reproof and discipline. And that is love. Christ wants us to repent of our sins. And hang tough even in the face of martyrdom:

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12: 11

Help! The Beloved St. John isn’t helping us out who don’t want to think about our sins. St. Peter! Can you give us some words of comfort? I am a nice, sincere person! I don’t do bad stuff hardly ever. Must it be so tough on me? I really try!

St. Peter answers that we are to keep fervent in our love, “since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” I Peter 4: 1.

Suffer to cease from sinning? This is nothing like what you hear from the televangelists of our day. This doesn’t sound too positive. St. Peter wouldn’t be too popular among Christians today. He’d be called Negative Nellie or judgmental, huh?

(Deep breath.) I need some words of encouragement from the writers of scripture, for I know we have all fallen short and we have all sinned. Isn’t that okay? Isn’t it about faith and nothing else?

St. Jude... I will look to him to see what he has to say about sin and love: 

To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Thats a good start: mercy and love....he called us saints! That’s positive and motivational. 

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed... ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness...just as Sodom and Gomorrah...indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties....Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage....In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 

Okay, the love has turned into warnings of sin, like everything we have already read. But don’t stop reading for it turns back into love and mercy:

Beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.... Jude 1excerpts.


Rescue others from sin, even those who are doubting. And then St. Jude tells us that God is able to keep us from stumbling. That is certainly good news. But it is not good news for those who wish to tell us that God is okay with everyone just as they are, that He loves them and has no plans to rescue them from sin. Jude sounds like Peter who sounds like Jesus. ....Next?

What about the apostle of faith-without-works, St. Paul? Surely, if no other apostle nor even Jesus himself will excuse our sin or at least tell us not to worry about it, surely St. Paul will. He is the great expositor of faith and the great condemner of works-righteousness! He will stay with us and hold our hands and tell us that love conquers all and love is all that matters and sin isn’t such a big deal, right? 

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2: 22

[I, Paul] implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace....

we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

...and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification...Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Eph. 4 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death....the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God...the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Rom. 8: 2, 7 +

Even St. Paul tells us that Christians are to abound in truth, love and good works. (2 Cor. 8:7) In love, we are to holy and blameless, (Eph. 1: 4) encouraging each other in both love and good deeds (Heb. 10: 24).

It seems to be unanimous. God and His followers are to have love for one another, real authentic love as well as turning from sin and beginning the real, authentic process of sanctification. Both happen because of an act of our will, it doesn’t just happen naturally. 

I will be very honest here.... I feel like I’m being called to be the morality police and that is something I really do not have the energy nor time nor desire to do. I really wish I could just find every other text that would allow me to take a pass on this and post it. But what about these texts? Can other texts nullify these? No, of course not.

Love is not compatible with sin. They are values at war with one another. Eventually one will win our hearts and actions.

So how do we balance this idea that we must have courageous love and we must also be righteous as well as stand for the truth without being judgmental? All of this is quite the tightrope walk.

This is my strategy. My first focus is personal holiness. I can only do that on my knees. I gotta get out that log in my own eye before I can clearly see to help someone else get the sliver out of their eye. Jesus isn’t saying this to let us know we are being hypocrites and judgmental if we do attempt to get the sliver out of someone else’s eye. He is just saying, clean up your own house first before you attempt to clean up another’s.  

So, I need a daily shower of God’s grace to give me the love and wisdom and courage and strength to turn from sin and become righteous. Part of becoming righteous is learning how to lovingly, wisely and courageously help others to turn from their sins. (As St. Jude told us to do.)

Practice love.
Practice righteousness.
Practice rescuing others from the snares of the devil.

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