The Bible Speaks

It’s God who can set the sinner free
Feb. 24, 2013 @ 05:05 AM

“But, if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned … his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezekiel 33:6

I am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge that most people have regarding the Bible. Biblical illiteracy plagues our churches and our country. There are, however, a few verses most everyone can quote and one of them is “judge not lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) This verse is popularly used to quiet Christians when they speak out about someone’s sin. Believers are often told not to judge others but to keep their views to themselves. “Live and let live” is their mantra and “what’s wrong for you may not be wrong for me” is their common rejoinder.

Many God-fearing people have been shamed into silence from such statements. Others are just intimidated and afraid, but they should not be. There is a huge difference between being judgmental, which Christ spoke against in Matt. 7, and judging right from wrong. When someone speaks to another about a belief or activity that they are engaging in that is wrong, they are judging the sin and not necessarily the sinner. To fail to speak out when noticing a sin can actually be sinful itself. So Ezekiel warns us.

In today’s text, Ezekiel informs us that if someone sees an enemy coming and fails to warn the people he is somewhat responsible for the harm that will be done. It matters not whether the people heed his warning; he is still responsible to issue it. The same is true for speaking out privately or publicly about sinful behavior. It is not personal judging but concerned warning. The sinful behavior, whether it is drinking or homosexuality; anger or adultery; is harmful to the one doing it and to fail to warn them is to be at least partially responsible for the consequences they will face for their wrongdoing.

The message of the gospel is one of love, but also one of warning. Persisting in sin will bring judgment from a holy God, but Christ came to bring forgiveness for what we have done and deliverance from the doing of it in the future. The Christian message is not one of judgment, but one of hope. Christ came to take the penalty for our sin so that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ wasn’t sent to condemn the world, but to save it from condemnation already incurred due to sin. (see John 3:16-21)

The Bible speaks of watchmen who know the truth and are charged with declaring it to those who sometimes don’t like their message nor believe their warnings. Christian, don’t be intimidated into silence or ashamed to speak up. Someone who knows the truth must warn those who don’t and plead with those who don’t agree. Success or popularity is not the goal: faithfulness is. Point out sin when you see it, but never fail to point to Christ who can set the sinner free.

The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor at Turner’s Chapel.