For the Follower of Jesus, There is Really No Such Thing as “Personal Sin”

Recently, I’ve been getting quite a few questions along this line. I thought it might be helpful to post it publicly.

If I sin publicly (or make my sin known publicly – whether committed willfully or subconsciously), my brothers and sisters in Christ are called BY GOD and EQUIPPED by God’s Spirit to bring me to an awareness of my sin, to bring it into the light (out of love for Jesus and for me), hold me accountable and call me to repentance. This is also true if I have a “private sin” that another brother or sister in Christ has seen, heard or sensed. There is no exception to this anywhere in scripture. We are never called to ignore someone’s wrongdoing out of some misguided allegiance, love or compassion. This is neither “christian” nor loving.

Now please understand…this does not mean that we are to go digging through the dirty laundry of our friends at church, being nosey for the sake of looking for wrongdoing. If you dig long enough, you’ll find something. That’s not the motivation being spoken of here. The motivation is that as a follower of Jesus, I should WANT this accountability. I should WANT others that love me to shine light on my darkness. If my house is on fire, I want someone to wake me up. If cancer is rotting my body, I want someone to find it. If I’m putting the wrong oil or fuel in my car, I want someone to warn me so that I can avoid costly repairs or replacements. This is one of the GRAND purposes of the community we call “the church”. We’re not in this journey of “being conformed to the image of His Son” alone. We’re here to help one another “walk in the light as HE is in the light.”

Below is a beautiful passage of how the church body, the Bride of Christ should work in these matters. Pay close attention to verse 11.

Ephesians 5:1-21 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. [2] And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [3] But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. [4] Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. [5] For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. [6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [7] Therefore do not become partners with them; [8] for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light [9] (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), [10] and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. [11] Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [12] For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. [13] But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, [14] for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” [15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. [17] Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [18] And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, [19] addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, [20] giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, [21] submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

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