What does the Word say about sin in the church

It only takes one person to make a difference, or a change. When we look at the body of Jesus Christ; the church, we see that one person can add value to the church (to the Kingdom of God), but one person can also cause a lot of trouble in the church.

Achan was such a person, who caused a lot of trouble. When Achan became disobedient to God, and sinned, it didn’t affect him alone, but his sin affected the whole congregation. The whole congregation of Israel, came under a curse, and became separated from God.

This happened during the old covenant, but what about the new covenant? Has anything changed? What is the (spiritual) effect of sin in the church? What happens to a church, or congregation, if a member persevere in sin, and is not willing to repent?  What does the Word say about sin in the church? What does the church have to do, when someone keeps walking in sin?

The rebellious behaviour of one person
caused the whole congregation to become accursed

In a previous post ‘the valley of Achor’, I discussed the victory of the people of Israel, and the fall of Jericho. The people of Israel overcame and conquered Jericho, because Joshua, and the people of Israel, were obedient to the Word of God. They followed His instructions, and because of that, His Words became fulfilled.

When the city was being taken, the only two things they had to do was:

  • to keep themselves from the accursed thing, otherwise the camp of Israel became a curse, and
  • to take all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, consecrate it unto the Lord, and bring it into the treasury of the Lord.

You might think that these commandments were easy to keep, but for one man these commandments were not so easy to keep.

by one man's disobedience many were made sinnersOne man became disobedient to these commandments and sinned. This man’s name was Achan. Achan was not being led by the words of God, but he was led by the lust of his flesh, and he took what belonged to the Lord.

By his deed, Achan not only became disobedient to Joshua, but he became disobedient to God.

Achan didn’t show any respect towards God, nor feared Him, and acknowledge Him as the Almighty God.

Achan also didn’t love his neighbour as himself, because he knew what the consequences would be, if he would take of the accursed.

But Achan loved himself, and was being led by the lust of his flesh. The 2 commandments, which represents the whole law of God: love God above all, and love your neighbour as yourself, were clearly not present in his life.

Because of the lust of his flesh, he became disobedient to God, and by his disobedience to God, the whole congregation became accursed (Jos 7:11) and became separated from God.

Achan showed no remorse

Achan didn’t show any kind of remorse. Not when he hid the stuff in the ground of his tent. Not when the thousands of brothers were killed, during the attempt to conquer the city of Ai. Not even when the accursed had to be removed among the people and Joshua called out the people of Israel, and Achan just went along with them, and stood in the midst of the people, without saying anything.

Achan’s heart was hardened and therefore he didn’t show any kind of remorse.

Maybe if he showed remorse, and repented of his deed, and asked forgiveness, maybe things would have ended differently, for him and his family, but we shall never know…

Anyway, the people stood before Joshua, and eventually Achan was appointed as the one, who brought a curse upon the congregation and caused a separation between God and His people.

The congregation needed to be sanctified

Achan was the one, who became disobedient to the Word of God, and therefore evil entered. By the deed of one man, the whole congregation became effected by evil (just like Adam, when he sinned and sin and death entered the seed of man).

valley of AchorThe holy people of God became unclean by evil, and therefore the congregation needed to be sanctified and made holy, so that God could have fellowship with His people again.

How did they sanctify the congregation? By removing the evil out of the midst of them.

Achan, his family, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his oxen, asses, sheep, his tent, and all his belongings were brought to the valley of Achor, where they were killed.

Achan didn’t fear God

Achan saw and experienced, how God led them out of the wilderness, crossing the Jordan, and led them into the promised land. He was circumcised, and was part of God’s people. He was a witness of all the great miracles, which the Lord performed before his eyes. He saw that every word of God came to pass. He should have feared God, because of what He had done. But Achan didn’t. He stole from the accursed and stole what belonged to the Lord. By his deed, approximately 3000 people were killed.

By his deed of disobedience, he didn’t acknowledge God for Who He is. He thought that God wouldn’t see what he had done. But God sees everything, He is omnipotent.

The sinner, who persevere in sin

Many people live like Achan, as impenitent sinners, and do things, which goes against God’s will and they persevere in sin. What causes this behaviour could be:

  • Wrong teachings, wrong doctrines, so that believers will be led astray (from the path of Life)
  • They won’t renew their mind with the Word of God. They won’t study His Word, and therefore they have a lack of knowledge of God’s Word and will not get to know God’s will
  • They are not willing to lay down their own life; their flesh
  • The love for the world, and all there is within, is greater than the love they have for Jesus, and for God.

God cannot have fellowship with sin

Just like God couldn’t have fellowship with sins (evil), as we see in the lives of Adam, Cain, Achan, Simson, Saul, David, Salomo etc. God still cannot have fellowship with sins.

Even in Jesus’ life, we see, that when Jesus took all the sins of world upon Him, that God left Him.

may we continue in sin Grace may aboutThis is still the case. God cannot have fellowship with sin. Jesus and the blood of Jesus are the entrance to the Father, to His Kingdom. By His precious blood, you have been washed from your evil nature; which is full of sins and iniquities.

Jesus came to draw sinners to repentance, and to set the captives free. Jesus came to this earth, and gave His life, to deal with the sin problem of the human race, for once and for all. He was not crucified, and He didn’t die, so that people could keep living in sin.

The blood of Jesus was a sacrifice, it was a remission of sin, and not a permit to keep sinning.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein (Rom 6:1-2)

What then shall we say? Shall we habitually sustain an attitude of dependence upon, yieldedness to, and cordiality with the sinful nature in order that grace may abound? May such a thing never occur. How is it possible for us, such persons as we are, who have been separated once for all from the sinful nature, any longer to live in its grip (Rom 6:1-2 KW)

Holiness instead of sin in the church

Many wrong teachings have entered the churches, or congregations, whereby the cross and the blood of Jesus, dying to ‘self’, put of sins and iniquities, and sanctification, have been replaced, by short ‘feel good’ sermons.

The grace and the love are many times used, to condone sins.

There are many preachers, who are afraid to preach Jesus, the cross, the blood, the resurrection, sanctification, holiness, the adversary etc.. They are afraid to be persecuted by the people of the congregation, or to lose members. Unfortunately the truth is that many people cannot stand ‘hard teachings’ anymore. They don’t want to be confronted with their behaviour and their walk. Because of that many preachers, reverends, elders etc. accept sin in the church, and don’t confront and correct the members of the church anymore. No, they adjust God’s Word, to the lusts and desires of people, and let the people abide in sin.

Sin in the church causes separation from God

Because of the fact that people abide in sin, and live just like the world, and therefore accept sin in the church, many churches, and congregations are separated from God.

This is the will of God your sanctificationJesus says that whosoever keeps sinning, is a slave of sin (Jn 8:34). When you are a slave of sin, than you are a sinner, and we all know that the father of sinners, is the devil, and a sinner will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

A slave of sin, cannot reign over sin, because sin reigns over him/her

Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abides not in the house for ever: but the Son abides ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (Jn 8:34-36)

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (Rom 6:6)

What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness (Rom 6:15-16)

In many churches, and congregations, the devil has built his throne, and his sons walk in rebellion (disobedience) to the Word of God, just like the world.

As saints in Jesus Christ, we must have an earnest desire to walk in holiness, and righteousness. We should be obedient and stay obedient to Christ, not because we have to, but because we want to. There must be a desire in our hearts to serve Him wholeheartedly, and to live according to His will.

What does God say about sin in the church (congregation)?

In the Old Testament, God clearly shows, that He cannot have fellowship with people, who keep walking in disobedience to Him (in sin), and are not willing to repent.

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him (Lev 19:17)

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear (Deu 21:18-23)

Please note, that the punishment was part of the old covenant, which doesn’t apply to us anymore, because we are partakers of the new covenant. which is sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. But the principle of the cause and effect of evil, of sin in the church, or congregation, in the spiritual world, is still the same.

What does Jesus say about sin in the church (congregation)?

Moreover if your brother shall trespass against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone: if he shall hear you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto you as an heathen man and a publican (Mat 18:15-17)

Take heed to yourselves:If your brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him (Luke 17:3)

What did the Holy Spirit say (through Paul) about
sin in the church (congregation)?

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

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, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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 ye 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 an 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 not you judge them that are within? But them that are without God judges. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person (1 Kor 5:1-13)

What do you have to do when a person is living in sin?

When you see that a brother, or sister, is disobedient to the will of God; the will of Jesus, and is living in sin, then you are obligated to go to the person alone and confront and him/her with his/her sin. Because the person is not only sinning against him/herself, but also against you (and the whole church, or congregation).

put off the old man which is corruptYou don’t gossip behind the person’s back. No, you confront the person.

If he/she listens to you, then you have gained the person (for the Kingdom of God, from destruction), but if he/she doesn’t want to listen and keep living in sin, then you take a brother/sister with you, and confront the person again.

If the person still isn’t willing to listen, then you inform the church, the congregation, and make this case known to them.

If the person stays rebellious, and is not willing to repent, and remove the sin out of his/her life, then you shall treat the person as a heathen, and as a publican, which means that you put him/her out of the church, or congregation. Or like Paul says: you deliver him/her to satan (in a next post I will explain what Paul meant).

You don’t accept the sin in the church, but you put it out of the church, the congregation, so that the person who persevere in sin, will not be a partaker of the body of Christ anymore, and you will save the church, or congregation, for being affected by evil.

How do you deal with sin in the church?

You don’t accept sin in the church, but you put the sin away. When a person becomes born again, then the process of sanctification will begin. Every person, who becomes born again, has to go through the sanctification process, there is no one excluded. No one can live, the way they lived, before they got born again, as the old creation.

put off the old man which is corruptThe process of sanctification, won’t happen, in many cases, in one day. It is a process, but how fast you will grow up into a mature son of God, depends on one thing, and that is:

How much do you love God? Do you love Him above all (including yourself and the world)?

Because if you love God above all and everyone, than you don’t want to do anything, that will displease Him, and cause a separation.

We know absolutely that everyone who has been born of God and as a result is a regenerated individual does not keep on habitually sinning (1 Jo 5:18)

The born again person needs to renew his old way of thinking, which is full of lies of the world (lies of the devil), with the truth of the Word of God. So that the born again person, who has been made a new creation, will begin to think, behave, and walk as the new creation; as a son of God.

Without renewing the mind, it is impossible to live according to God’s wil.

The born again son shall become conscious, and shall be confronted, with certain behaviour, or with certain things in his life, which seemed ok, before he got born again, but after reading the Word of God, finds out that it’s not normal and ok. After the confrontation with the Truth, he can do two things:

  • he listens to the Word and obey the Word, and repent and put the sin away
  • he covers his ears, and does his own will and remain living in sin, because the love for his flesh is bigger than the love He has for Jesus, for God

The church, or congregation, is appointed by Jesus as a spiritual institution; a government, to teach, equip, correct, and discipline the sons of God, so that they shall walk as sons of God on this earth.

The church should walk after the Spirit, and not after the flesh. The church shouldn’t be led by their senses, thinking, emotions, feelings etc. but they should be led by the Holy Spirit and the Word.

The Bible is a manual for the born again believerWhen a question or a situation arises, it is not about what the people think about it, but what God says about it. God is very clear in His Word, but the main problem is, that only a few people are willing to listen to Him, and obey His words.

There are only a few people, who are willing to submit themselves to Him, because it means that they have to crucify their flesh, with all its lusts and desires, and remove things out of their lives. And many people are not willing to do that.

They are prepared to go to the church, or congregation, listen to sermons, sing, and maybe do some charity work, but don’t confront them with their daily life and their behaviour, and don’t tell them what to do, because otherwise….

The leaders of the church, or congregation, of Jesus Christ, should live as mature sons of God, who are led by the Holy Spirit and the Word. They have the responsibility for all those precious souls of the church. The members of the church should also care for one another, and should love one another, because the Word says to love your neighbour as yourself. That means, that when you see a brother or sister living in sin, you have to confront him/her. Because sin means bondage to the devil, and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:22)

Do you love your neighbour, if you want him to die? Because that is what you do, if you approve and accept his/her sins, and let him/her walk in sin, without confronting him/her.

Freed from sin by the blood of Jesus

Yes, you have been made free from sin, by the blood of Jesus, and not by your own works. But that doesn’t mean that you can use the blood of Jesus, to keep walking after the flesh in sin.

Thou shall, the carnal mind is enmity against God, sin in the churchIf a member of the church is not willing to submit him or herself to the authority of Jesus Christ and wants to keep living after his/her own will, then this person is rebellious and has the nature of the devil and not of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit is one with God, and Jesus, and isn’t rebellious.

If a person doesn’t want to submit, he/she undermines the authority of God, and doesn’t acknowledge God for Who He is. He not only rejects the Word, that God gave to men, but he rejects God Himself.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump

The Word says that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump, therefore if a believer, a member of the body of Jesus Christ, persevere in sin in the church, and stays in the church, or congregation, then he will affect the whole church, or congregation.

The church will also partake of his sin, and the spirit of rebellion shall also affect the lives of the other members, because they are one body.

Paul gave the example of the little leaven, to indicate what the effect of sin in the church is in the spiritual world. Unfortunately, for many people the spiritual world is still hidden.

“When one person persevere in sin in the church, then the whole church becomes partakers”

Accepting sin in the church, will eventually cause destruction of the church.

That’s why God, that’s why Jesus, and that’s why the Holy Spirit says (through Paul, and other believers, who are the church) that if a person is rebellious, and is not willing to listen and submit to the Word of God: remove the person out of the church, or congregation, and deliver him to the world, so that evil will be removed out of the church (out of the body) and the church, congregation, will be saved.

The church, or congregation, is not a charity institution, nor is the church, or congregation, meant for entertainment, or motivating ‘feel good’ sermons, but the church, or congregation, is an institution; government of Jesus Christ, which represents the authority of the Kingdom of God (the government of the Kingdom) upon this earth.

Every one, who confesses Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord over their lives, shall not be rebellious, but shall submit to Jesus (the Word).

‘Be the salt of the earth’ 

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