Righteousness and Repentance

The church shouldn’t be foolish. For example, it would be foolish to put an adulterous pastor back in the pulpit after a few weeks of “repentance.” Nor can repentance remove any penalty imposed by the State, nor automatically restore broken relationships. Sin is far easier to see in others than in ourselves. The one in it must come to the point of humility, see their own sin for what it is, turn from it (imperfectly but truly), and pursue Christ and his righteousness.

 

Over the past few weeks, we have seen many prominent men accused of sexual assault. Some have lost work. Some have lost political clout. All have lost their reputation.

As the people of God who have his Word, we should not be surprised by sin. Romans 3 is clear in condemning us all starting in v.9, including statements like “None is righteous, no, not one.” We expect to find sin in everyone we meet. Looking for sin in someone is like going to the beach to search for the ocean. Each of us has sins that are more prominent than others, but the essential problem is our sinful nature. 

This is no excuse for us to sin. We cannot act as if a sin doesn’t matter. We cannot ignore it. We cannot ignore victims of sin. We hope for justice and prosecution where necessary. We hope for the State to do its great task of restraining evil.

Very few of those accused seem to claim to be Christian. For those that are not and do not turn to Christ, I can only hope for justice from the State and for them to work up enough self-control to not do this in the future. My hope is small in the latter.

In the case of a Christian in this or other public sin, there is an added layer. They too must face the consequences of the State (if any) and the harm they have done others. In addition, they are liable to the discipline of the church.  This discipline and admonishment against sin by the church is to warn someone that they must repent. If this produces godly grief as Paul describes in II Corinthians 7, then good! This grief that leads to repentance is good for the soul. It reminds us that our sin offends God, that it justly deserves his wrath, and that we must turn from it.

If this produces worldly grief, which seems to me is more like grief at being caught, then this is not helpful. It may even indicate the person is not truly saved. In fact, it looks more like the grief of the non-believer. Look for deflecting responsibility, non-apologies, and going straight back to the same sin.

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