Episode 90 - How to address sin in your closest relationships
Welcome back to the Sojo Show! Today instead of asking each other a question like we normally do, we read a question from one of our members, to be discussed in light of Galatians 2.
“My daughter-in-law is making some really bad choices and now wants a divorce. There are children involved. I know I need to love her and treat her with kindness, but when do we confront the sin?”
Most of you listening have probably experienced to some degree or another a similar situation where someone that you love is making poor decisions and you are trying to figure out how to handle it with grace and truth.
First our question would be in return: are we talking about a believer or a non-believer? Because that is definitely going to change everything.
If we're talking about a non-believer, we have to remember the goal is to bring them to Christ. That conversation is going to look very differently than if they are already a believer in Christ.
We can expect non-believers in Jesus Christ to sin. We can expect them to not have values that align with God's word. And so that's a totally different conversation than if this is a believing person.
Now, if they are a believing person, then the goal is to remind them their actions either reflect or deflect away from the gospel.
This is very well illustrated to us in the Book of Galatians chapter two, which is the topic we are diving into today!
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
We want God's Word to answer our question when we have one like the one we started this podcast with. We want it to not just be an opinion of somebody or a counselor's solution or worldly advice. We want God's Word to direct our paths. This is a passage from God's word that we can use to do that.
What was actually going on is that Peter was hanging out with these believers, with these gentile believers that were not circumcised, and they did not have all the Jewish culture and Jewish background. Peter had actually gotten a Word from God himself that Gentile things were no longer considered unclean.
So here he is.
Saying: it's grace. It's faith in the goodness of God. That's the way we are saved.
And yet when the believing Jews came, Peter started stepping away from the Gentiles. He abandoned them because he wanted to fit in with the Jews who had been circumcised.
The message of grace that Peter had just been given to these Gentiles was then nullified because of his actions, because he started to retreat from the Gentiles who weren't circumcised.
Peter was a hypocrite and he had just given the message of grace to these believers.
Peter was compromising the core message of the gospel.
And how does this relate to our question at the beginning of the show? When is it right for us to confront somebody who is in sin? From Peter's clear example, we confront somebody when the message of the gospel is compromised or at stake.
That's the bottom line– when the message of the gospel is being compromised by another believer’s choices, that's when we really have an obligation to say something and it always needs to be done in love.
Paul confronted Peter publicly because Peter acted publicly. This was a public compromise of the gospel.
Like the story that we started the show with, the daughter-in-law who wants to divorce. If she claims to be a Christian, the standing that this sister has is to go to her and say,
“Look at how you are compromising the message of the gospel by making this choice. Look at how you are compromising the message of the gospel to your very own children. How are you representing Christ by these actions?”
There are a lot of things that we could say, such as, “your actions are morally wrong, look at how it will hurt the ones you love,” and all of these things; but the core argument that we have is, “This compromises Christ. This compromises the gospel of grace.”
If we are believers in Christ, we believe that no matter what it is we're facing, no matter what hardships this daughter-in-law is facing in her marriage, no matter what personal issues of sin she may be dealing with no matter what the situation may be, God's grace is sufficient. As believers in Christ, we are to exercise faith in that. And when we make choices that are not in alignment with that truth, we are misrepresenting the gospel to anybody who's looking on.
Also, we would explain the importance of marriage to the Christian. The role of marriage is to be a reflection of the gospel. It is to be a reflection of Christ and the church.
Marriage is not about us, ultimately. It's not an institution that will survive eternity. We'll not be married in heaven. It is an earthly representation of the gospel, and the enemy wants to see that representation and that picture of God's grace. Which is why he works so hard against marriages in our society today.
When you see someone that you love, that you know is a believer and that is living in sin in some way, or contemplating something to be against the biblical truth, it's important to explain that to them.
“Is what you're doing glorifying God? Are your actions pointing others to the gospel or are they reaffirming hypocrisy?”
And again, if we go to confront an unbeliever in that state and try to persuade them to do something right, that's an empty argument because there's nothing internally in them that would be drawn to that. That's why we have to present the gospel and say “in Christ all things are possible”.
Our takeaways this week are many! You’ll have to listen to this episode to hear how we ALL can apply these biblical truths to our lives.
Just remember: Repentance is possible. And God will do mighty things through a repentant heart. Just as he did through Peter.
And also remember: God's word gives us answers. It gives us a starting point of where to go and how to begin addressing the hard issues and the hard questions in life.
So let's utilize Scripture, shall we?
For Further Study
We are doing a whole study on Galatians this month. Throughout this study, we will walk you through this beautiful book verse by verse, and after just a few weeks, you will know God more.
If you want to go deeper, join us here sojoacademy.com.
Free Coloring Pages
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