Defending Sinners, Justifying Sin

Go to any Christian bookstore today and you will find heaps of books written about why people are leaving the faith or are not coming to the faith. These books are basically siding with these folks, claiming that bad churches and bad Christians are really at fault here.

They claim the churches and believers are not loving enough, are too judgmental, too focused on sin, too preachy, too this and too that. And that is why people are not coming to Christ, or are leaving Christ and reverting to paganism. So what are we to make of such books and such ideas?

Well, I have already spoken to this. For example, I discussed one entire book written along these lines, and shared my concerns about it. You can find that article here: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/04/04/a-review-of-unchristian-by-david-kinnaman/

What these books and these authors seek to do in my opinion is make excuses for sin and for sinners. They are trying to let rebels off the hook. They are trying to justify rebellion and sin. I think that is a very dangerous place for any believer to be in.

We need to agree with God, and not take sides against him. The truth is, we are all dirty rotten scoundrels. We are all sinners who actually love self and hate God. We are all born with an orientation towards sin and self, and away from God and righteousness.

This is of course basic Christianity 101. If we don’t agree with God about our fallen condition and our bent away from him, then we will never be able to make any sense out of the gospel message. The gospel is good news only for sinners. It is not good news if you think you can forever make excuses for your sin.

Now, do Christians and churches often get things wrong and often misrepresent Christ to others? Sure, happens all the time. There are plenty of churches, Christians and Christian parents which could have done a better job – in fact probably all of them.

We all could have done far better. We all could have been more Christlike. We all could have been better ambassadors of our Lord. But guess what? In a fallen world, there will be no perfect churches, Christians or Christian parents. We are all flawed, finite and fallible.

Even born-again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians are not perfect manifestations of the Christian life. I am not trying to make excuses here for our poor performance. We all must humble ourselves, repent, and ask God to make us much more like him. We all need to be aware of how often we fail Christ, let him down, and misrepresent him to the world.

But that should not allow sinners to get off the hook. We should not allow this reality to become an excuse for sin, rebellion, atheism, and the defiance of God. We should not seek to offer justification for those who renounce the faith or those who refuse to embrace the faith.

I write all this in part because I recently wrote about a 21-year-old girl who renounced her Christian past, her Christian home, her Christian upbringing, and her Christian parents. She now is exalting in the “freedom” of her atheism. And it is clear that she is now exalting in her freedom to sin.

She spills the beans here: “For a long time I couldn’t have sex with my boyfriend (of over a year by this point) without crippling guilt. I had anxiety that I was going to Hell.” Well there you have it. As long as she was in a Christian home and going to a Christian church, she was not able to freely enjoy her fornication.

That, more than all her lame intellectual excuses, seems to be the real motivation here. Like millions of other people, she would rather sin freely than submit to God and his holiness and righteousness. She wants to do her own thing, sin with impunity, and be able to do it all without any guilt.

Well, she can try all she likes to pretend God does not exist, but it will be harder for her to dispose of her guilt feelings. She has guilt feelings because she is guilty. She still lives in God’s moral universe, and she is still subject to God’s moral laws, whether she likes it or not.

So she proudly and defiantly writes up her atheism and rebellion, and expects people to feel sorry for her. Well, I don’t. I do feel sorry that she is heading to a lost eternity unless she repents of her sin, her vain arrogance, her foolish pride, and her defiance of God.

But I do not feel sorry for her upbringing. From what little I know about it, it sounds pretty good to me. I wish many more people had such an upbringing. She can make all the stupid excuses she wants, but she is still accountable and morally responsible for her choices.

Indeed, for all we know she could be lying through her teeth in her article. Perhaps she had utterly terrific parents and churches as a child. We just don’t know. Yet a number of Christians still seem to assume that she was raised in some Pharisaical hellhole. Why should anyone make that unwarranted assumption?

Thus I for one find it really odd that so many believers are actually siding with this reprobate. They seem to want to make excuses for her and her sin and her rebellion. Why in the world should Christians seek to defend sinners and justify atheism?

The truth is, Jesus never told anyone: “Oh you poor thing, you had a rough childhood. You were treated poorly by your parents and your religious community, therefore you do not need to repent and be saved”. I am not aware of Jesus ever making an excuse for someone’s sin, or ever trying to justify someone’s rebellion against God.

And when we all stand before the judgment seat of God we will not have one lousy excuse to offer, be it ‘science and the Bible conflict’ or whatever. We will all stand with head bowed and mouth shut. We will not have one thing to say in our defence.

So as I said in my previous article, we must certainly pray for her and others like her. But she is an adult and she has freely chosen to reject God, embrace atheism and sexual promiscuity. There is no reason for any Christian to defend that or make excuses for it.

billmuehlenberg.com/2013/09/15/atheism-and-freedom/

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10 Replies to “Defending Sinners, Justifying Sin”

  1. Amen. You hit the nail on the head. The Gospel of God Loves Everybody, the Gospel of Do As You Please, the Gospel of Just Believe, the Gospel of No Repentance Required are as much false gospels as Mormonism, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Torah Keeping or Jehovah’s Witnesses, and much more damning because they’re full of half-truths. I see it all the time on my WE WILL NOT BOW Facebook page: Christians siding with filtho-sexuals of varying kinds (usually the homo variety) in the name of “love” and telling Believers they’re wrong to come down on them for living in open sin and polluting society (literally and figuratively) with their evil. People who on the one hand complain about the crime rate, and on the other refuse to demand the death penalty for heinous crime. People who will spend hours (literally at times) trying to get some moronic reprobate to believe, when they could be giving the Gospel to people who desperately need it.

    The young woman of whom you speak has already sown the seeds of her own destruction by making a public denunciation of Christ. In the early Church, a public denunciation of Christ brought excommunication and effectively ended that person’s relationship with the Church, except for occasional visits from Church leaders looking to see if God had granted that individual space to repent. Today, it brings book deals. Such is life in the Land of Unwalled Villages. Anything gets in, apostasy is rampant and Magog runs over the people of God roughshod.

    Ed Sumner

  2. You are dead right Bill, a true Christian could not condone her sin and promiscuity. She has her free agency and she has chosen to Sin. Nobody has forced her to do it, because nobody can be forced to do anything against their will.

    She has probably done it to nark her parents, to say to them “see I can do as I like and nobody can stop me”. This is what Governments and Society are telling our Kids today. Kids can now legally divorce from their parents and family as the Law allows it

    As you well say Bill, our Society has sunk to the level where the seek to justify and rationalize Moral Sins and Transgressions as being normal,

    Let those who agree and condone such actions, be accountable before Gods Judgment Bar and let them see how much He agrees with them. I would hate to be in their shoes, They would wish the Mountains fall upon them to hide them from the Gaze of God and his handing down of a Just and completely Moral Judgment.

    Leigh D Stebbins

  3. Haven’t you heard, Bill, that sin has been officially abolished?

    Mention of it in schools, the mainstream media and even in some churches is now deemed “inappropriate”, because it would obviously have such a damaging impact on people’s self-esteem.

    So, when a Hollywood star is found taking drugs, or when an axe-murderer goes on the rampage, we don’t demean such a person by calling him a sinner. Instead, we say, “He battles personal demons.”

    Doesn’t that sound much more uplifting, Bill, than banging on about sin all the time?

    By using appropriate PC euphemisms like this, we can transform the transgressor into a sort of super-hero.

    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  4. There is pure truth in this article brother Bill! I thought I was the only one who thought the constant becoming worldly to win the world approach of many “emergent” and “seeker sensitive” churches (and I use the term churches loosely) ragging on churches for not being more affirming of unbelievers sin was patently unbiblical and repulsive to the Holy Spirit. He’s called Holy for a reason. As Jim Spiegel so clearly establishes in his book “The making of an Atheist”, people become atheist for moral reasons not intellectual reason, like the girl you’ve mentioned, daughter of Matt Slick the founder of carm.org, who employed a pre-pubescent reason for rejecting the gospel so she could fornicate with her boyfriend without feelings of guilt. I’ve many friends who’ve rejected God for the same reason. It’s sad really for on the day of judgement there’ll be no place to hide, and no one left to lie to. Only the individual in the court of the Living God. The church in Australia needs to rise up and preach a confrontational gospel, challenging the real reasons for why sinners reject God. It’s time to rock the boat!!

    Joel van der Horst

  5. Secularised language has influenced the way we interpret the Bible. The hard-line secularist use the Bible against Christians when they do not understand it. This has only strengthened the case of the Bible when read the right way, not the secular interpretionist view. The hard-line secularists have used the Bible to turn people from seeking God.

    Janice Tooh

  6. Things such as
    Jesus telling a woman “go and do this sin no more”.
    Jesus saying that the love of many will grow cold
    etc.

    Come to mind.

    While Jesus did not condemn a woman caught in adultery he didn’t condone her sin either.

    Also we know from scripture that there will be a great falling away. At times a fall in church numbers can be a result of the Church going in the right direction, and at times increases in church numbers can be a result of going in the wrong direction.

    We can be set free not to sin.

    Also whilst we should have a healthy fear of hell, we should also consider and have a greater focus on the positive alternative. The rewards for those who overcome are great.

    Matt Vinay

  7. I feel especially for the parents, I know what it is like to have done my best, well, as you said, we could all have done better and I could have and my older children have reasonable conservative values, but are at the moment following the world more than the Lord Jesus and that is a great grief for me. The young lady is still a reasonably young adult and God’s grace has amazing ways to bring a person back. Sad though that she thinks just because she has pushed aside the feelings of guilt and fear that the very existence of hell and judgement have therefore also disappeared. It is a bit like a child closing its eyes and thinking it has become invisible
    There is just one balancing scripture I would like to mention here, for truth and love always work in balance with each other. I don’t believe that it applied in this case as her parents seem to have a deep concern for the salvation of souls if they run a public ministry. Jesus did warn though that we must be careful to not cause our little ones to stumble. I am not sure if that always means children or young believers. Also, if our doctrine does not match up with scripture and our life doesn’t match up with that doctrine, then we are in danger of putting a stumbling block before the little ones and I pray I will not encounter Jesus’s wrath on that subject. In the end we are responsible for the choices we make, but I am glad Jesus would prefer the bar not be too high so the motivation, energy and capacity for making those good choices are not too hard to come by.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  8. I find lukewarm Christians who make platitudinous reasonings to excuse away what they call innocuous sinning, just making excuses for their own sinning.
    They want to dumb down their guilt by glossing over similar sins of another person. “it’s only a little white lie” they say. Give me a break, define “White Lie” I ask. Guess what, they usually then lie about the lie.
    Preachers are not called to avoid the sin, issue they are called to bring light to it.

    Michael Mercier

  9. Ha ha – Love this line… “The truth is, we are all dirty rotten scoundrels.”
    Yep. Saved by grace.
    Tim Lovett

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