The Most Damaging Sin in the Church

Are you surprised to hear about the salacious predatory behavior in Hollywood? I am not surprised, but I am extremely upset when human beings are so cruel and uncaring to each other. These allegations reminded me about the salacious predatory behavior that continues to be a problem in the church. How can human beings who profess to love God and each other, be so unloving and so self-serving? The Apostle Paul explained it best:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-24)

Then Paul reminds us that we are not alone in this struggle with evil (Romans 8:1-17). We have the Holy Spirit who has set us free from the law or power of sin and death. Our agonizing struggle with sin can be overcome by the power of God. Not only do we have the Holy Spirit, we have access to those in the church who live by the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2).

Spiritually healthy relationships shine the light on the character of God who is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6). Spiritually healthy congregations expect to be led by spiritually healthy pastors. Yet keeping relationships mutually beneficial takes a willingness to be transparent only made possible in a culture of honor and trust. This takes commitment and hard work.

Does separating men and women keep sexual immorality at bay? Does wearing modest clothing keep women from being raped? No. Jesus said sexual sin begins with the evil thoughts I entertain in my mind. He said these evil thoughts come from my heart.

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person (Mark 7:21-23).

These evil thoughts have no place in my heart or mind because they do not honor others in the name of Jesus. If I do not cease thinking these thoughts, I may decide to speak them or post them online. And if I do not stop thinking about them or talking about them or posting them, I might act upon them. Even if I do not act on them, they serve no helpful purpose. Instead they dishonor the very ones created in the image of God. However, there is a way out of this dilemma. Jesus promised to fill me with his Spirit. When I allow the Holy Spirit to fill my heart and mind, these thoughts lose their power (John 16:33; I John 4:4). Paul says it this way:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

The reason the sin of sexual immorality is so dangerous is because this sin destroys people’s lives, damages the church’s reputation, and demolishes people’s faith in God.

Today most churches do not publically acknowledge sexual immorality as a sin. Today men and women live together, buy houses together, and have children together without the benefit of marriage and with the silent approval of the church. Sexual immorality has morphed into recasting of sexual orientation and changing one’s gender. Same sex marriage is now being tolerated by some and encouraged by others in the church.

How can human beings who profess to love God and love each other, be so unloving and self-serving? Easy. We are sinners. What do we do about it? Repent of sexually immoral behavior. Crucify our passions and desires. Expose these deeds of darkness to the irrepressible light.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5-6).

Jesus told the woman who was caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). I must do the same and so should the church.





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