Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,
you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Sin is something we all have in common. Even more so, what the Puritans use to call, the sinfulness of sin. From our very thoughts (Prov. 24:9) to the most grievous transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4) - we all sin AND are sinners. Even as new creations in Christ Jesus we are still incarcerated in unredeemed flesh (Roms. 6-7) and, therefore, struggle with sin and its effects until we are home with the Lord. We've died once to the penalty of sin; we die daily to the power of sin; and one day we will be free from the presence of sin.
These words of the Apostle Paul we can all identify with: "the very thing I want to do, I do not do; and the very thing I do not want to do, I do..." There is the tension and our common struggle in this life with sin. In saying that, this does not excuse our sinning or means we are not culpable for our daily sins. We are. We do not want to be antinomian in our view of grace (Roms. 6:1-2). Grace teaches us to deny worldliness and ungodliness and to live sensibly, righteously and holy in this present evil age (Titus 2:12). But when we do sin, we have an Advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 John 2:1-2) Who, as Spurgeon says, "is more willing to forgive than we are to sin. Our finite sin cannot exhaust His infinite grace!"
But this brief post is not about that important issue here today.
It is more about the random, almost tabloidesque, casual nature that two Christian bloggers (Tim Challies and Justin Taylor) have demonstrated recently when reporting on another professing believer's in Christ sin (btw, neither of these bloggers dealt with this issue biblically. they never encouraged prayer for the one in sin, and they didn't even mention one verse of Scripture concerning this at all in either of their posts. but the comment threads are on fire... very sad.)
Now I am not suggesting that these bloggers were acting curmudgeonly or guilty of kitschy articles deeming another. What I am saying is that in the face of another's tragic sin, it's not enough to just point out the wrongness of the behavior - which any nonbeliever can do as well. But it takes spiritual maturity in the face of sin to show grace and humility that works for the restoration and repentance of the sinner and then remain in prayer for those who have charge over their soul.
Exposés are mindless and easy to pen;
but biblical encouragement that produces holiness
and restoration from sin takes wisdom.
The skilled workman in God's Word
wields the Sword of the Spirit
as a surgeon's scalpel to heal, not to needlessly wound.
Someone's personal sin issues should not be for public debate or gossip. It is a matter for the local church to deal with to encourage and work toward repentance. After all, that is the purpose of all church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20) isn't it? To see a sinning brother or sister in Christ repentant, restored and renewed in their walk with the Lord. It is never for retribution, revenge or titillating blogging banter. We do not fulfill the law of Christ, beloved, by such guttural reporting. But we do so by bearing one another's burdens.
So may I ask us all today to soberly examine our own hearts as the Apostle Paul encourages us to do in the verses I have posted above. Not in light of someone else's sin, but in light of our own wicked hearts. If we have a right view of our own sin and what it cost our Lord Jesus on the cross to redeem us from sin, hell, death, and the very wrath of God which burns against us and our sins, then we will be filled not with a "Geraldo" journalistic display about the sins of public figures, but one of Christlike compassion for anyone who is struggling with sin.
Our motive then should be to prayerfully and actively restore a wayward brother or sister in the Lord; to bear the load of sinful weight that is causing them to falter in their walk with the Lord Jesus; to do so with gentleness and humility; and to do so in light of the reality of our own sinful actions. Grace does not wink at sin; it does not tolerate sin; and it does not condone sinning. But grace should keep us away from gossiping about another's sin; should cause us to speak with humility and not with self-righteous pride about another's failings; and should cause us all to take stock of our own lives in the Lord as well, lest we be tempted in a similar fashion and be brought to shame.
If we have tasted the kindness of the Lord in our salvation and have been saved from all of our sins and the penalty due those sins, then we will also exercise in turn grace to another when confronting others in their sin or even hearing about a sin issue in their lives.
"Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). And as MacArthur, Gill, JFB and many others point out on this verse, the "covering" means protecting the scope of who has knowledge about another's sins. IOW, true biblical Christlike love does not seek to broadcast someone's sins, it rather seeks repentance and restoration of the one caught in a trespass.
May we humbly seek to employ that in our own lives today. Amen?