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, who represents the Kingdom of God, and be constructive or a person can cause a lot of trouble and can be destructive.

Achan was such a person, who caused a lot of trouble to God’s people. When Achan became disobedient to God and sinned, it didn’t only affect him, 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, they were instructed to:

  • keep themselves from the accursed thing, otherwise the camp of Israel became a curse
  • 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. Achan 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 didn’t love God.

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

But Achan loved himself, and was being led by the lust of his flesh. The two 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 fact, that he gave into the lust of his flesh, he became disobedient to God. 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 and didn’t repent of his act. He didn’t show remorse when he hid the stuff in the ground of his tent. Nor when the thousands of brothers were killed, during the attempt to conquer the city of Ai. He even didn’t show remorse, when the accursed had to be removed among the people and Joshua called out the people of Israel. Achan just went along pretending he didn’t do anything wrong. When Achan stood among the people, he didn’t say anything.

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

Maybe if he showed remorse and repented of his deed, maybe things would have ended differently, for him and his family, but that is something that we will never know…

Anyway, the people stood before Joshua, and eventually Achan was appointed as the one, who had brought a curse upon the congregation and had 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 affected by evil. Just like Adam, when he sinned and sin and death entered the seed of man and affected the whole human race.

valley of AchorThe holy people of God had become unclean by evil and was separated from God.

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 their midst

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 His life, we see, that when Jesus took all the sins of the world upon Him, that God left Him. God couldn’t have fellowship with sin.

The grace of GodThis is still the case. God cannot have fellowship with sin. Jesus and the blood of Jesus are the entrance to the Father and to His Kingdom. By His precious blood, you have been washed from your evil sin nature; which is full of sin and iniquity.

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 doctrines have entered 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 motivational ‘feel good’ sermons. The grace and the love are many times used, to tolerate and condone sins.

many pastors are leading the sheep into the abyssThere are many preachers, who are afraid to preach Jesus, the cross, the blood, the resurrection, sanctification, holiness, the adversary etc.. Because that means that they also have to do, what they preach and many times they are not willing to do that.

There are also preachers, who are afraid to preach hard words to the people. Because 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 doctrines’ anymore. They don’t want to be confronted with their behaviour and their walk. Therefore, the leaders of the church tolerate and 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

But due to the fact, that people abide in sin and live just like the world, and therefore tolerate and accept sin in the church, many churches and congregations are separated from God.Jesus 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. We all know, that the father of sinners, is the devil, and that a sinner will not inherit the Kingdom of God.servant of sin

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)

This is the will of God your sanctificationIf 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?

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 about
sin in the church?

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 Cor 5:1-13)

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

When you see that a brother, or sister, has become 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 him/her with his/her sin. Because the person is not only sinning against him/herself, but also against you and the whole church (congregation).

You don’t gossip behind the person’s back!. No, instead you confront the person.

Deliver a person unto satanIf (s)he listens to you, then you have gained the person, for the Kingdom of God and from destruction. But if (s)he doesn’t want to listen and keep living in sin, then you take a brother or sister with you, and confront the person again.

If the person still isn’t willing to listen, then you inform the church, 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 or her out of the church or congregation. Or like Paul says: “you deliver him/her to satan”

You don’t tolerate and accept the sin in the church, but instead you remove the sin out of the church. Therefore, you remove the person, who persevere in sin, from the church, so that the person, will not be a partaker of the body of Christ anymore. When you remove the person out of the church, you will save the church 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 became born again, as the old creation.

put off the old man which is corruptThe process of sanctification, won’t happen, in general, over night. 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 believer 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 believer, who has been made a new creation in the spiritual realm, will begin to think, speak, behave, act, 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.

Sanctification by the Word of God

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 became born again, but after reading the Word of God, finds out that it’s not normal and ok. After the confrontation with the Truth, the born again believer 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 and for God

The church, or congregation, is appointed by Jesus Christ as a spiritual institution; a spiritual government of the Kingdom of God, to teach, equip, correct, and discipline the sons of God. So that, they will mature and 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 her senses, thoughts, feelings, emotions, findings, opinions 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 they don’t want to be confronted with their daily life and their behaviour. They don’t want anyone else telling them what to do, because otherwise….

The leaders of the church 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 have an attitude of willingness and be open for correction. They 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, (s)he undermines the authority of God. The person doesn’t acknowledge God for Who He is. But the person not only rejects the Word, that God gave to man, 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, then he will affect the whole church.

The church will also be a partaker of his sin, and the spirit of rebellion shall also affect the lives of the other members. Because the members of the church 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.

Sin destroys the church

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, and deliver him to the world. So that, the evil will be removed out of the church; the body and the church will be saved.

The church is not a charity institution, nor an entertainment institution to motivate and entertain people. But the church is the spiritual 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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