Updated: May 22, 2019
Should a Christian be offended when told to "Stop Sinning"?
If you find yourself squirming in your seat when someone delivers the message "SIN NOT" ... Or you find yourself shouting, "You can't Judge Me!!!" Then this is definitely a message you don't want to miss! It could literally save your life and set you free from the bondage of sin. In this case...The Truth will surely Set You Free!!
Is it wrong or offensive for Christians to reprimand other Christians by telling them to "stop their sinning!" Afterall, didn't Jesus say "judge not". Would that set every Judge in the land at variance to this command? Hmmm perhaps we should look into this a little deeper and uncover the accuracy of what it means to judge. Maybe we can learn a thing or two from the Judges appointed and how this structural system is designed by a CREATOR of justice.
While every situation may not always receive justice through the law instituted by man, there is indeed ONE who sits higher and governs the ways of man, and HE is always just and fair. I want to clearly define the meaning of Justice and then proceed to define Judge. From there we will discuss the meat of our topic.
The quality of being just; fairness
The principle of moral rightness; decency.
Conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude; righteousness
Law The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor,standards, or law
Conformity to truth, fact, or sound reason
To form an opinion or estimation of after careful consideration: judge heights; judging character.
Law To hear and decide on in a court of law: judge a case.
To pass sentence on; condemn/ pronounce judgment on.
to form a judgment or opinion of: to judge a book by its cover.
Jesus stated in scripture, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1, KJV).
The Greek word used for "Judge" is "κρίνω krínō, (G2919 Strong's Concordance) meaning to decide, call into question, to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong.
Is this what Jesus wanted to convey... not to call into question the behaviour/actions of others? Should we remain silent on issues of injustice? Is this what he wanted for his followers to stand idly by while men commit wickedness and injustice throughout the land?
The answer to this dilemma can be found within scripture itself...no more confusion on a matter so rarely understood.
In the New Testament Paul addresses a concerning issue within the church. One of the members were reportedly committing fornication...with his father's wife. Paul clearly stated, "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have Judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed" (1 Corinthians 5:3, KJV).
Why is this significant?
Paul judged him. Even more so, he judged him from a distance! He judged/condemned him based on what he heard the man had done, and he pronounced a judgment of death. Paul's judgment was clear to, "deliver such an one unto satan for the destruction of the flesh" (1 Corinthians 5:5, KJV). There was no verse in which the man claimed, "you don't know me!!" or "GOD is my judge!! who do you think you are?!", or "The Lord is still working on me".
Was Paul violating the direct command of Jesus where he stated to"judge not, that you be not judged"? Or are we missing some vital elements within these passages?
In Matthew 7:1, we read further, Jesus noted "for with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged". He warned those who judged others but were guilty of greater offenses.
"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and behold, a beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 7: 3-5, KJV).
Jesus was clearly speaking of people who were hypocrites. The original greek word for hypocrite is "ὑποκριτής hypokritḗs", (G5273 Strong's Concordance), meaning pretender, an actor under an assumed character (stage-player). One who is wicked cannot presume to correct another who is wicked. For they are both walking in the flesh/blindness.
However, this is not indicative of one who is a true follower of Christ. Paul judged this man upon hearing of his wickedness and rightly so. Here is the key...
"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must you needs go out of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do you not judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, KJV).
A Christian is instructed clearly not to judge a non-Christian because God alone judges them. However, If there is one who claims to be a Christian and is sinning against God, as a non-Christian, it is the responsibility and obligation of the Christian to judge the sinner and thereby "put away the wicked person from among them".
Jesus stated, "you hypocrite" because they are pretending to walk in righteousness and admonishing/judging others and yet they themselves are sinners. Jesus warned, purify your own heart first, stop sinning first, and then you are in a position to help/correct the behavior of others. Otherwise, you are a hypocrite! You are a sinner just as they are a sinner. Acting/putting forth the appearance of a Christian/follower of Christ but truly a servant of the devil/enslaved to sin.
Those who profess to be within the body of Christ do not willfully sin and thereby should sharply be judged and excommunicated from the church.
Willful: Voluntarily, of one's own accord
It is written that if a fellow "Christian" sins against you, warn him and if he refuses to hear you, have the Church speak to him. If even at the admonition of the Church he rejects, then Christians are to treat him as a heathen and a publican (Matthew 18: 15-17, KJV). Why? because he is revealing the true nature of his heart...it was a willful sin and one he is not willing to turn from.
Anyone who claims to be a Christian are not only well within their rights and obligations to not only judge other Christian but remain open and accepting of Christian brotherly judgment. Is this not the way to sharpen and bring about good character and wisdom through admonition. ..especially when done in the spirit of love and care for the other?
So the next time you're told "stop sinning" perhaps it is the time to consider, Are you a true Christian or one who wears the mask? Those who want to sincerely follow Jesus will welcome admonition/judgment if they are doing something displeasing. Those who are not sincere in following Jesus will shun the censure.
"Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:8-9, KJV).
As always, let me know your thoughts!
Additional Resources: The Test, 2018 Digital Online Course