A Gospel That Doesn’t Confront Sin Doesn’t Save

sinkillsI think that most Christians at one time or another in their lives will fall into some type of legalistic phase. We see the world through a new lens where the entirety of creation deserves the righteous judgment of God. We see sin and can feel the need to condemn others even though we are only just beginning to reconcile our own sins. For most, this is a short phase that passes into a more mature faith where we work on removing the plank in our own eye rather than judging others for the speck of wood in theirs. The problem arises when rather than falling into a more mature and scripture based faith we fall to the polar opposite position where the idea of rebuking fellow brothers and sisters in Christ becomes the ultimate sin. I believe that this type of “Love is all that matters!” form of Christianity is equally dangerous and can lead to even more damage to the Body of Christ than legalism.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. – Matthew 18:15-17

The Bible is more than Matthew 7:1-6. Many people some how believe that Jesus was some type of Birkenstocks wearing hippy that spoke only about loving each other and wanting people to be happy. This fluffy bunny Jesus speaks nothing about pain or suffering. He speaks nothing about sin and rebukes no one for his or her actions. This modern day Jesus does not judge others and loves them no matter what they do or what they believe. This universal God sounds amazing but it is not the God of scripture nor does this Jesus have the power to save souls. The interesting thing about the various liberal denominations that preach of this type of God is that they can’t reconcile the need for Christ and they can’t reconcile the suffering that happens throughout the world.

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. – 1 Timothy 5:20

deaf-dumb-blindLogic requires the existence of sin and redemption to make Christ necessary. Why else would the horrifying death of Jesus Christ have been required? If all God required of Jesus was for Him to come to earth to tell human beings about how to take care of each other why send Him to the cross? If God does not care about sin or about how people lived their lives as long as they are happy, why would He impose on Himself hours of scourging and a slow and painful death on a cross? The answer is that He wouldn’t have. Christ was sent to earth in order to serve as a substitution for us. He took upon Himself the punishment that we deserve for our sins. The true gospel says that we are enemies of God and that we deserve eternal punishment for sinning against a wholly righteous and pure God. When we dilute the gospel to “God loves me and wants me to be happy” we remove the need for that sacrifice and thus we remove salvation.

We need to understand that discussing the full extent of the gospel is not condemnation. It is the gift of salvation. We don’t try to convict the nonbeliever of his sins (let God do that), but we also don’t say that his sins are OK. We don’t judge others and live as hypocrites, but we also don’t stop rebuking our brothers and sisters when they sin. We don’t judge, but we also don’t accept unrepentant sin among those in our Church. We don’t pick the Love of God and throw away His righteous condemnation of sin. We don’t focus on the red letters and forget the rest of the Bible. This isn’t legalism but orthodoxy. This isn’t out of a desire to make people feel bad, but out of a desire to make sure that people accept the correct version of the gospel. The true gospel that doesn’t necessarily feel good by earthly standards, but the true gospel that saves eternally.

gaymarriage-620x594There is a stark reality that is lost on many of the more liberal Christians in this country. This reality stands as a stark difference from the culture that we live in and makes Christianity radically different from the way the world thinks God should be. God doesn’t care if you are happy outside of the joy of doing His will. He cares that you bring Him Glory.  He cares that you are saved and made right with the Father. He spoke about justice and loving other image bearers, but he rebuked sin when He saw it. Jesus accepted sinners but He did not accept their sins. The God of the Old Testament did not go away. God did not change His nature, but satisfied His nature by sending Himself to serve as a substitution for us. Think about it this way. God hates sin so much that He was willing to send Himself to earth, to debase Himself as a human being in a fallen world, to suffer an excruciating death, to separate part of Himself from the rest and did all of this in order to take the punishment that we deserve. Without an understanding that every believer including us is responsible for killing Christ, there is no salvation. We can water down the gospel all we want, but without that understanding and without repentance, there is no salvation.

There is such a desire among modern day Christians to not look legalistic that many refuse to address the very reason why Christ came to earth. We believe that calling a sin a sin is condemnation when it is the exact opposite. We don’t judge the unbeliever but we make sure that they understand the truth about what the gospel truly is. It is God taking our place. It is God choosing us and saying that we are wholly blameless and that our sins are forgiven if we simply repent and allow Christ to accept our just punishment. A gospel that does not address the cross or sin might be more palatable to the world and might get more people in the pews, but it does not get them saved.

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. – Revelation 3:19

Michael Davis
Senior Editor of Veterans to Christ. Served as a Cavalry Scout from 2005-2009. Iraq Veteran.