3 Urgent Times to Confront Sin in Your Church

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God tends to show up in churches where there is repentance, grace, and spiritual health.

A man in our church came to me recently with a heavy heart. His daughter was married to a man who had recently been caught in adultery. The couple went to another church here in town, and the father contacted their pastor to see if he would confront his son-in-law on this obvious sin. The pastor refused, not seeing it as his duty. What? Not his duty? If we’re really pastors, it’s actually one of our primary responsibilities, especially if we love the people we lead.

Not surprisingly, fewer and fewer church leaders are willing to go to people who are living in open sin and confront them. Why? Do we lack the courage? Are we ignoring the biblical mandate as leaders to protect the innocent from the harmful?

Many times in my role as pastor and elder, I have had hard meetings with people in the church. I never look forward to them, and I certainly get no joy from them, but they are super necessary if the church is to remain healthy. In fact, some of the great spiritual breakthroughs I’ve experienced as a leader have happened after I had dealt scripturally with sin issues. God tends to show up in churches where there is repentance, grace, and spiritual health.

Primarily, I believe elders and pastors have a responsibility to graciously confront people in three key areas.

1. Unrepentant Sin

“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 NIV

More from ChurchLeaders.com: 7 Deadly Sins of a Dying Church

Paul is talking about people who are aware of their disobedience but refuse to repent and change their behavior. Obviously, Paul is not talking about moral perfection, but he is challenging us to confront people so they can turn away from the very things that will destroy their lives. Compassion, not angry judgment, is the motivation for challenging their behavior. Notice, also, that Paul is not talking about confronting unbelievers who show up to explore Jesus in our churches. We must love them and model grace, by all means. He is talking about people who call themselves Christians but are purposely being deceitful.

Brady Boyd Brady is the Lead Pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He is married to his college sweetheart, Pam and is the dad to great kids named Abram and Callie. He just wrote a book called "Fear No Evil" and he's really serious about caring for the people of Colorado Springs by opening numerous Dream Centers.

More from Brady Boyd or visit Brady at http://newlifeblogs.com/bradyboyd/

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

    There are two sides to every argument. I would not confront this man without his wife being present. This whole “chase off the sinnner” thing puts me off too. Leave the judgment to God. It isn’t your job to tell folks what to do when they are not in your church. Confront him, and watch how fast he leaves, and maybe divorces his wife. SHE needs to talk to him about this, not you.

    • PastorBrady

      Did you actually read my blog? The man was caught in open adultery and attended another church. I asked his pastor to confront him, not me. The scriptures are crystal clear that we are, indeed, supposed to chase off unrepentant sinners for the sake of the flock. Read the above scriptures. This is not judgment. It is healthy.

      • Ely_of_Cinci

        Is there more to the story?  Is the behavior ongoing?  Were the man and his wife in counseling?  Sometimes the confrontation would cause more harm than good if all the background is not understood, especially if it causes great embarrassment to the wife.  I would offer counseling rather than confrontation in hopes the marriage could be saved.

      • Malakadoni

        Amen brother
        Lord help that guy !!

        • Malakadoni

          1 Corinthians 5:8
          Paul says concerning the immorality
          I’ve already judged this not even being present. Therefore when you come together and the spirit of the lord is there
          Turn such a one over to Satan … That his soul might be saved!
          Jesus said ” a little leaven leavens the whole lump ”
          Paul again says ” you who are spiritual
          Go to such a one in the spirit of meakness …”
          I am a minister and have been saved
          Some 27 years. My wife of 8 years left 3 years ago and has been involved in one assorted affair after another…..
          Forget worrying about the marriage
          Be concerned about this man splitting hell
          Wide open, that he repents and gets right with God.
          Sin has got to be dealt with only then through true repentance can the marriage have any hope of being reconciled

      • Ashday7381

        Yes, I agree that the pastor should confront the man. But to everyone who is reading this blog should not judge couples who are already divorced or separated from their spouses.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

        Well, you just answered a question I have had for a long time. I tried two churches, when asked to tell about myself, I told them I am divorced, and they ran me off. I am always going to be divorced, and if those churches feel I am somehow a danger to them, then I certainly want nothing to do with them either. Good thing God isn’t so judgmental. But don’t worry, my “divorcedness” won’t leap on you through this screen.

        • Brian

          Hmmm is there a little guilt and shame evident here?? Pastor Brady was not blogging just to get at you, nor did he call your supposed ‘divorcedness’ a sin. Please stop reading into things, it only see’s you getting yourself more hurt Shadow.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

            Of course he didn’t specifically say me and my divorce. He DID say he chases away known sinners. And that explains why those churches chased me off. they see divorce as a sin. I have no guilt or shame about it. My ex took a job in another state, then sent me a letter informing me he wanted a divorce. i had nothing to do with it, nor do i even know why he did it.  but those churches said I was at fault just for being a woman, and they got up and moved away. divorce isn’t “catching”. if they chase sinners off, as that man openly admitted to doing, then that says to me “no sinners allowed in here”.  silly me, walking into a church thinking sinners would be made welcome. i am a sinner but my being divorced is not one of them. they also said i “caused him to commit adultery”. no. i did not. if they think that then they can just go ask him why he wanted a divorce.

          • http://www.facebook.com/samson.thomas Samson Thomas

            I think the author is only talking about chasing away “unrepentant sinners” – who know that they’re doing wrong but choose to do it anyway despite warnings from God and the church. 

            All the others – I think the church should welcome with grace and love. Chasing them is certainly not biblical.

          • Eagle36

            Shadow, I have read many of your comments that you have posted to articles on this website and I feel that you have some issues of bitterness and anger that you may need to deal with.  If what you say here about your ex-husband is true then I would guess that you are angry with him, and I can understand why.  And if what you have said about how some churches have responded to you is true then you have not been treated in a Christ-like manner.  Sadly, neither of these situations are rare and I am sorry that you have had to endure such treatment by your ex-husband and churches.  I feel that your anger has turned to bitterness that reveals itself in your responses to articles or comments left by others.  Being wronged by others can be hard to forgive but it must be done or it will consume your life.

            I wish that every church in America was a perfect reflection of Jesus but the problem is that churches are full of human beings who are imperfect.  Sometimes churches can become too legalistic and they actually reject those who need the love and forgiveness of Christ.  They become kind of like the “church” in Jesus’ day that focused on following rules and regulations instead of the Messiah who was standing right in front them.  Their religion blinded them to the truth and made them unloving in how they treated people, even to the point of crucifying Jesus.  Pride in their religious performance became their god.

            And for some reason, we humans sometimes decide that certain sins, like divorce, are unforgiveable.  Being divorced is not an unforgiveable sin.  Sometimes a spouse has no control over the decision to be divorced and I don’t see how they can be held accountable for that.  And even if someone gets divorced for the wrong reason, if they go to God and repent and ask for His forgiveness, the Bible tells us that His is faithful to forgive them.

            Every person who walks on this earth is a sinner in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  Don’t let anger and bitterness keep you from enjoying the peace and joy that can be found only in a relationship with Jesus.  The church will never be perfect on this earth because it is full of sinful human beings who are trying to become more like Christ; a task that will never be complete until we meet Him face to face.  God loves you and He wants you to experience a fulfilling relationship with Him but you must focus completely on Him and you must let go of what has happened in the past.  You can become a completely new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit working in you to give you a joy-filled future.  Forgive those who have wronged you and enjoy the hope that Jesus gives you in your own life when you experience the forgiveness of your sins.  Do everything you can to forget the past and move towards a future with Jesus.  He is the only source of everlasting joy and peace. 

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

            I listen to several sermons on line. I don’t, however, need churches judging me, as if they are perfect. God knows my heart and I answer to Him.

          • Eagle36

            Churches are imperfect because they are filled with imperfect people.  Not all churches treat divorced people the way you have described how you have been treated.  If they did, they would be a lot emptier than they already are.

            My point to you is that it seems like you are carrying a large chip on your shoulder in regards to this issue and seek to use it to condemn the church every chance you get.  I have been hurt by the church several times in my life and I have at times used that hurt to lash out in any way that I can which can lead to bitterness.  If we focus on what has been done to us and talk about it over and over we encourage bitterness in our hearts and our heart becomes cold and hard.  That is the reason that I said what I did in my last comment.  Many of your comments seem to focus on what was done to you in the past and they reveal a sense of bitterness toward the church.  Holding on to your hurt and using it to condemn all churches and their leaders is unhealthy for you and can be unhealthy for others as well.

            My hope for you is that you can get past the hurt that you received from your husband and the church and look for the good in people and the church instead of always looking for the bad.  If you focus on finding the bad in people and churches you will always find it.  Forgive others as God has forgiven you and extend grace to others just as God has extended grace to you.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

             I hate churches, no big secret. At one, since the perfect people didn’t want me, i tried their “celebrate recovery”. After it was over, people sat to chat. A man came up to me and began praying for me to accept Jesus. A woman broke it up, saying she had to lock up. As I was going to my car, she and another woman were out there and she said “I just hate when they cry and blubber in there”. So yes, I ran into this kind of thing every time, until I said, enough. I come here and read the hypocrisy and point it out from “those they are supposed to reach, but in fact, hate”. I have been there, done that, and all they want is their closed country clubs and money, and to brag about their numbers and money.  For the record, I did try to resolve the celebrate recovery issue with the two women and the man, and big surprise, the women denied it, and I was called a liar. So yes, that was the last straw and I am bitter.

          • Brian

            Shadow, sadly it seems that you have come to a place where you will not listen to reason. I am a pastor and our Church is nothing like you have described. I’m sorry you have come to this place, but it will take an attitude change on your behalf to bring healing into your life. Healing from all the bitterness.
            There are so many imperfect churches, with imperfect pastors, and imperfect congregations, who are actually attempting and some succeeding to do an amazing job.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

            maybe. but coming from an abusive childhood where nobody was safe, then to have my safety, my world, yanked away when my husband sneaked off, to run into this time after time at the one place i expected to find kindness but only found people who found a million and one reasons for me not to be there, i won’t go again. i listen online, but i hate the hypocrisy church has become. i am not good enough for them, and i am not going where i am not wanted.   

          • Eagle36

            Shadow, I am truly sorry for the hurt that you have experienced both from your ex-husband and churches.  I too have been hurt by the church and I was working in the church at the time.  My experience left me wanting to never work inside of a church again in my life.  And I know all about the “closed country club” atmosphere that many churches have.  People like to be comfortable and reaching the lost can be uncomfortable because they may have to give up things that they like in the church to reach others.  Unfortunately, as humans we are selfish by nature and unless we completely surrender our lives to God, we focus on our own wants and desires instead of the needs of others.  I have been a Christian most of my life but it took me 30 years to finally surrender my entire life to Jesus and I am still learning how to love like He does.  I have spent my entire life in the church but did not live a life fully surrendered to Jesus until just a few years ago.  I would guess that my story is not unusual in the church and that there are many people in chuches that have not truly given their life to Christ even though they claim to know Him.

            Bitterness is a terrible thing that can make your life miserable.  I know that you think that coming to this site and pointing out the “hypocrisy” will somehow make you feel better or will make things right somehow, but it won’t.  All it does is keep the hurt that you feel alive in your life and increases your bitterness.  The Bible teaches us that we must forgive others just as we have been forgiven.  In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus is teaching others how to pray and verses 12-13 state, “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”  (The Lord’s Prayer)  And in Matthew chapter 18 Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving debtor.  In this parable Jesus teaches us what happens to us if we don’t forgive the debts (sins) of others in the same what that God has forgiven our debts (sins).  If we don’t forgive those who have wronged us, the Bible teaches us that God will not forgive our sins and we won’t make it to heaven.

            I know this is hard because I have lived it in my own life.  But I also know that the bitterness that you harbor in your life will destroy you if you don’t find a way to forgive others.  There are good Christians and churches out there and my challenge to you would be to become one of those good Christians and live a life that would draw others to Christ rather than push them away like others have done to you.  Become that person that you want others to be and get rid of the hate and bitterness in your life.  God loves you and so do I and I pray that you can find the joy, peace and love that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus but that can only happen when you forgive others.

          • Malakadoni

            Shadow,
            I know your pain all to well !
            Read my earlier reply and you’ll understand where I’m coming from my self.
            There is an excellent book called
            Sacrid marriage by Gary Thomas
            I urge anyone that has gone through a divorce or separation to read this book,
            Brace yourself and take your time reading it allowing God to move in your life.
            It’s hard core!
            Read it patiently and take your time.

            Something unrelated :
            Did you ever think about Mary the mother of Jesus how the favor of God put her out in front to be mocked, ridiculed and made fun of and possibly even stoned?
            But the angel called her Blessed and highly favored!
            God allows in his sovereignty what the devil means for harm to show himself
            Strong….
            God must trust you allowing this to happen to you….. To give you a testimony
            I would consider it awesome to hear from you say in five years from now cause
            Your story ain’t over girl !

        • Suzie

          We had a paid staff member who was divorced at our church. I hate that you’ve had bad experiences. But not ALL churches will run people off. Our church usually makes “church people” feel uncomfortable. I hope that someday you will experience people who genuinely care about you! 

      • debra roland

        Wow. Somebody willing to admit it. you made my point, as an outsider, one major reason many visitors never go back. You make it quite clear, “fall in step or get out”. Why would an “unrepentant sinner” even want to be in your church? Not logical.

  • Phildburton

    Thanks Pastor Brady for clear scriptural guidelines to build healthy churches. I honor you for you’re courage and integrity. You’re ministry to me at the Gateway Pastors Conference years ago really impacted my life, and showed me you’re heart for people and Pastors.. Blessings from Germany!

  • CG

    Hi!  Great insight!  Do you apply the adultery issue (and when unmarried couples live together) to church members only, or to regular attenders as well?

    • Noni Beth

      Personally, I would recommend a confrontation for anyone who is involved in adultery.

      Adultery thrives in secret – expose it and much of the fun and thrills go away. Although a confrontation may not immediately bear fruit, and indeed will almost certainly have no visible impact, it often rocks the adulterous relationship to the core. That confrontation will eventually bear fruit as the adultery comes to an end, as nearly all affairs do.

      Once a person’s right mind returns, repentance is often seen. The path was smoothed and helped by someone caring enough to speak out against their great moral crime, and a precious soul can be saved from death.

  • Mikelrichard

    I agree 100% it is important for pastors to protect the flock. The grace of God is not supposed to give us carte blanche to sin,unfortunately pastors are so worried about losing attendance and tithe that they would rather not confront. These same pastors wonder why the holy spirit does not operate in force.

  • Ely_of_Cinci

    “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. WIth such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 NIV
    It may be easier to confront someone who is sexually immoral, and almost all the articles related to sin within the church deal with this behavior.  When was the last time someone confronted a Christian for greed?  Is not the love of money and power part of the idolatry of today…yet most pastors are silent, often afraid to broach this subject with their congregations in the fear they may scare off some, perhaps their largest contributors. 

    • Virak_Mac

      Great point. I think that anyone demanding that the church take a greater stand against homosexuality should also demand — or perhaps demand first, because it is a sin that is far more prevalent in the church — that the church take a greater stand against greed.

  • Ely_of_Cinci

    Is there more to the story?  Is the behavior ongoing?  Were the man and his wife in counseling?  Sometimes the confrontation would cause more harm than good if all the background is not understood, especially if it causes great embarrassment to the wife.  I would offer counseling rather than confrontation in hopes the marriage could be saved.

  • Elevate_YA_Min

    Our job as pastors, elders or leaders isn’t to make friends and worry or be concerned about a persons feelings when it gets to the stage of caught (exposed) adultry. Yes, we are to speak the truth in love but still speak the truth. In my early years as a “leader” I had my own sin that I was unwilling or unable to overcome. And because of that, I could not confront others on their issues due to my own. That is why, I believe, there are so many pastors, elders and leaders who don’t confront becuase they have their own “issues” or “sin” which resticts them from carrying the authority and the annoiting to minister. You can be called all day to pastor, minister, lead but if you chose your soulish ways instead of His you will not be effective at all. In fact, you will eventually cause more damage to a situation or person than what has already happened.
    Thanks for the artcle Pastor Boyd!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

      It is called being human. Any “leader” who claims to be sin free is a liar. We are not God.

      • Brian

        Again Shadow, reading into things. He never said anything about pastors being “sin free”.

      • Pastor William

        All sin should be confronted it and sometimes the Holy spirit will do the work all the elder or pastor has to do is just teach the word accourding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. And sin will be confronted

        • Guest

          what if the person causing the offence is the pastor’s wife and when you confront them – the first action is to dismember you and put you out?

          she is crass, tastless, gloating – engaging in nasty jabs because she herself is insecure, and won’t come down off her high horse to apologise for a string of really hurtful remarks just after the death of my husband? and me giving them thousands in money to support them?

          the pastor/husband CANNOT apologise on her behalf. and the pastor SHOULD NOT as a first resort after 20+ years great history, dismember me and put me out.

          she had the big mouth to cause offence in the first place, and he will not be standing before God on her behalf in Heaven, and he cannot apologise for her now.

          so i’ve been put out, and that after him agreeing to ‘be a brother to me in my husband’s death’ including executing my will in event of my death. it is quite a serious matter to dismember me for finally standing up to her nastiness.

          in ‘forgiving’ them I let them go – but it’s cost me… cost me my network of support following my husband’s death. I’m in a foreign country, my husband now buried here, with a brand newly built business we built up, in no position to move and no place to go, and for confronting her regarding her behaviour toward me (I’ve lost my husband not my dignity) and for preserving what little dignity I have remaining, I’m “persona non-grata” – so instead of the unrepentant person being confronted and dealt with, the victim is put out.

          that’s real hurt – and I used my professional skills to save his own life when he was unwell, and as a widow with no recourse to future security – I DID IT AT MY OWN EXPENSE.

          all because she is insecure, crass, and refuses to get down off her high horse and apologise. NONE of us is above reproach. the wee vicar’s wife included.

          the church elder is his brother, and I am outsider / foreign national so I won’t be taken seriously but fobbed off.

          this is a case for letting them go there, and let the Holy Spirit deal with it, but I’ve now been left without support and in no position to move on – too fragile to build new relationships which take time TIME and when you are a widow, you need support.

          All because of one woman’s un-dealt with insecurity (the wife of someone who was like a true blood brother to me in my need of real family support) – and I’ll tell you I’ve heard widows talk about this over and over and over again. People feeling threatened by a widow, and doing a number on the widow as if she was an unsubstantiated threat to their marriage.

          Pure and undefiled religion indeed – instead of picking the flesh off a widow who has lost everything precious.

          what is WRONG with the church? the first instance of disagreement in TWENTY YEARS, and not even my fault, and the first reaction is ‘you’re out’. A person who was kind-hearted suddenly turning harsh. I never had a disagreement with him so did not know that he thought he and his high and mighty wife were *above reproach*. NONE of us is above reproach. I have a real problem on my hands – and I’m suffering as a result of someone else’s sin. And already a death blow of my sweet husband’s death.

          (all names withheld because I have taste and class).

          post script edit:
          ps. it would be great if I got a few thoughtful, wise, replies??

          query: – do I go to another of their local churches (knowing that his biological brother (the church elder) won’t listen to me) and force the issue?
          Really, to me, an apology that has to be that hard won – ie.. the need to extradite a simple apology from someone so very crass and thick, is an apology not worth having.

          So I decided to let them go, and follow the Prophet Jeremiah in Chapt 48, and become the dove who leaves the city to dwell in the rocky yawning ravine. I’m left harmed and with nothing.
          Yes yes I have God, but sorry after 45 years as a Christian, I don’t mind saying in the right context *God is not enough*, I need a network of Christian support – and I’m not fit to build new friendships after suffering dissection of my heart from my husband’s death – and now from my brother’s ostracising. This is sinful hypocrisy at it’s best! :'(

  • hiloboy

    Thanks! This is a great article!

  • Lustus

     “Not surprisingly, fewer and fewer church leaders are willing to go to people who are living in open sin and confront them. Why? Do we lack the courage? Are we ignoring the biblical mandate as leaders to protect the innocent from the harmful?

    Thank you for addressing this. While I agree that the greatest shame of the church today is it’s unwillingness to exercise discipline and even shun the unrepentant, I hasten to add that accountability comes out of relationship. It is very likely that the wayward son-in-law had no true loving relationships within the body to lose. A church you can walk out of and down the block to another without a second thought is no church at all. We are called to love one another but who of us truly understands What Love Is well enough to confront sin as God does?

    Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the  love. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (MSG)

  • Darryl

    In a time when so many pastors are compromising the faith, it is refreshing to see that others are stepping up and standing for truth.  Great article!!

  • Ely_of_Cinci

    Matt 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    I guess almost everyone who reads this should be ejected from their churches.

    • Pastor White

      Not that they be rejected but they should be confronted, and with the confrentation hopefully it will bring convition, repentince and hopefull a new birth and old behavior get put behind him and life becomes a new. If you dont confront it like having a cold it linguers on and it can get worse. Praise the lord this day.

      • Ely_of_Cinci

        Just a personal question, how many times does this confrontation bring on conviction and repentance?  How often does it cause the adulterer to leave the church?  In your experience, what is the affect on the victimized spouse?  (These really are not rhetorical, I am genuinely curious.)

    • Eagle36

      Can you read minds?  Do you know of any human who can read minds?  Obviously God is the only one who can judge our thoughts and the Holy Spirit will convict us of our internal sin.  The problem is that internal sins eventually become external sins.  If you think about having an affair with someone long enough, most likely it will eventually happen with them or someone else.  This is when we as believers must confront our fellow believers who are involved in outright sinful behavior, especially if they are in church leadership.  As people think about sin over and over in their minds, their heart becomes hardened to the prodding of the Holy Spirit and it may take confrontation to break their heart again.  The purpose of confrontation is to help people return to a right relationship with God because you can’t live in relationship with God and live in sin at the same time.  If we don’t confront fellow believers who are living in sin we are letting them walk away from God and down the broad road that leads to destruction.  If they repent and turn back to God then they should remain a part of the church.  If they are unrepentant and continue to live in sin they should be “ejected” as you say.  And if they repent in the future they should be welcomed back into the fellowship of believers.

      This situation does not apply to those who have never accepted Jesus as their Savior.  The church should never turn away sinners seeking to find God.  And people who have never accepted Jesus as their Savior should never be in church leadership therefore they should not have to be “ejected”.  Once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior your life is held to a higher standard because your life should reflect the life of Jesus.

      • Ely_of_Cinci

        Funny, I don’t read Jesus making such a distinction.  What Scripture do you use for your assertion?  Why is the physical act any more dangerous than the spiritual act?  On what basis do you make your claims other than human logic?

        • Eagle36

          What “assertion” are you talking about?  I made no distinction between sins.  Sin is sin. I only talked about internal verses external sin.  Only God can know our thoughts and if they are sinful or not.  Once we act on our sinful thoughts in the form of physical behavior, then others can witness our sinfulness.  I can’t look at a person and see them committing adultry by thinking sexual thoughts but if they are caught physically committing adultry then I can know they are committing sin.  All sin is a “spiritual act” because it separates us from God and causes spiritual death.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23
           

          • Ely_of_Cinci

            Sorry, don’t mean to get anyone upset.  The assertion I am referring to is ”The problem is
            that internal sins eventually become external sins.  If you think about
            having an affair with someone long enough, most likely it will eventually
            happen with them or someone else.”  I don’t
            really believe that is necessarily true. 
            I’m sure some people have these fantasies and nothing ever becomes of
            it externally.  Others, perhaps through a moment of
            weakness or neglect of their spiritual condition, let their guard down and get
            involved with someone without ever entertaining these fantasies.  The real problem is any differentiation between
            internal and external sin is strictly man-made and to continue making the
            differentiation minimizes the sin.  According
            to Pastor Brady, every one of our pastors should confront us as we all have
            sinned and continue to sin, most of us internal sins.

            History tells us (no, not the Bible), that the Corinthian church was
            very worldly.  Many of the people brought
            in the pagan practices into the church so it was imperative that Paul write to
            them to let them know these practices were not pleasing to God.  1 Corinthians 5 tells us that a man was
            having sex with his father’s wife and the church was proud!  Boasting of it!  Hardly the same as one person committing
            adultery.  If we remember when the adulteress
            was brought to Jesus, He was upset with the accusers, not the woman.  We should just do as the Master told us, “neither
            do I accuse you, go, and sin no more” for none of us can cast the first stone.

            Finally, confronting the man would probably drive him away from the
            church, cause embarrassment of his wife, and not bring healing to their
            relationship or his relationship with God. 
            A simple word from the pastor saying we are praying for you and your
            family and we are here in case you need to talk would go further to heal the
            situation than confronting him.

          • Eagle36

            I am not upset at you or anyone else.  I am a little frustrated that you continue to twist what I say for the sake of argument but I am not upset.  At no point have I ever “minimized sin” and talking about internal and external sin has nothing to do with the consequences of sin.  I will say it again – sin is sin and leads to spiritual death.  The statement that started this whole conversation was one made by you – “I guess almost everyone who reads this should be ejected from their churches.”  You based this on the statement by Jesus that people who lust after others in their thoughts is guilty of adultry and my contention was that no-one but God can judge people on their thoughts so how do we as humans confront people because of their thoughts.  (And there is a major difference between confrontation and ejection.)  When we act out on our thoughts (and get caught) then we need to be confronted with the truth so that we can change.  Confronting other believers because of sin is outlined in the Scripture so I don’t know why there is such a big fuss over it, unless of course, those of us who don’t think sin in others should be confronted are dealing with sins in our own lives that we don’t want to be confronted over.

            You sort of disagreed with my “assertion” about internal sins becoming external sins when you said that wasn’t necessarily true, but you didn’t deny it doesn’t happen.  In my opinion, most of the time people think about committing adultry before they actually do it.  A good, Christian man in a solid marriage just doesn’t all of a sudden decide to go have sex with another woman.  The sin starts in his mind before it becomes an act of the body whether that is through looking at pornography, watching t.v. shows, or getting too involved emotionally with another woman. 

            In your last paragraph you talked about what confrontation would “probably” do and what the pastor should do in just praying for the situation.  This seems to be your opinion on what should be done.  Do you have any practical experience to back this up?  The author of this article is a pastor and has had to deal with this type of thing in his ministry so he is actually speaking from a position of personal experience and authority.  I too have had direct experience in dealing with this very situation and witnessed how confrontation saved two families.  Have you had any direct experience with confronting sin in the church?

          • Ely_of_Cinci

            Let’s put this to rest…my point, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  

            Whether the sin is internal or external doesn’t matter, we all miss the mark.  I am confident I could walk up to almost any man in my church and, if he was honest, he would admit at sometime in his life he lusted after someone who is not his spouse.

            And no, I have no hidden sins as you speak of (to the best of my knowledge)…I confront my sins and confess them to God as soon as I am aware of them and I have done so for many years.  And God continues to forgive me and give me strength and the quiet peace I need to continue His work.  I am constantly reminded I am a sinner saved by grace and no matter how hard I try, I always fall short.  This reminder is very helpful as I counsel others facing their sin.

            Anyone caught in adultery needs counseling and prayer, not confrontation.  The Scriptures used to support this type of confrontation are, in my opinion, not in the same context. Corinthians speaks of a man who was having sex with his step mother and the church was boasting about it.  The man in Pastor Brady’s account was caught in the act of adultery and the church was not boasting.  If the church knew about it, his wife knew about it.  If confrontation means the pastor saying, “I hear you are having some marital issues and please know we are praying for you and your wife.  If there is anything we can do or if you need a good counselor, please let us know.  We love both of you and we are praying for your happiness.”  I agree with that confrontation; not a confrontation that would be construed as fly right or get out.

            Have I experienced this in a church?  Yes, many times as I am a 56 year old pastor of a mainline denomination.

          • Eagle36

            Sounds good.  I think that we agree on more than we don’t and we don’t need a “confrontation” about confrontation.    There are too many variables in any given situation to say absolutely that confrontation is always the best way or non-confrontation is the best way.  The confrontation I am talking about isn’t that of telling someone to “fly right or get out”.  Sometimes people need to be confronted in their sinfulness because they have become blind to what they are actually doing and that it is sin.  I have witnessed it firsthand and it is amazing how a series of bad decisions can lead a strong Christian to the point of doing something totally against the will of God and they can’t even see it.  That is why I say that people dwell on things internally for a long time before they actually commit a physical act.  People don’t normally turn their back on their faith and their family out of the blue without first giving in to many small temptations along the way.  All sin regardless of whether it happens in the mind or in the body leads to death if it is not confessed and repented of.

            As I read your last comment I thought about accountability groups and how they could even be construed as confrontational if people are asking pointed questions about your thought life and what movies you have watched or what websites you have visited.  If more people were “confronted” about their thoughts in an accountability group at an early stage, maybe less people would fall into the trap of physically committing adultry.

          • Ely_of_Cinci

            Thanks for the reply and God bless.

          • Guest

            what if the person causing the offence is the pastor’s wife and when you confront them – the first action is to dismember you and put you out?

            she is crass, tastless, gloating – engaging in nasty jabs because she herself is insecure, and won’t come down off her high horse to apologise for a string of really hurtful remarks just after the death of my husband? and me giving them thousands in money to support them?

            the pastor/husband CANNOT apologise on her behalf. and the pastor SHOULD NOT as a first resort after 20+ years great history, dismember me and put me out.

            she had the big mouth to cause offence in the first place, and he will not be standing before God on her behalf in Heaven, and he cannot apologise for her now.

            so i’ve been put out, and that after him agreeing to ‘be a brother to me in my husband’s death’ including executing my will in event of my death. it is quite a serious matter to dismember me for finally standing up to her nastiness.

            in ‘forgiving’ them I let them go – but it’s cost me… cost me my network of support following my husband’s death. I’m in a foreign country, my husband now buried here, with a brand newly built business we built up, in no position to move and no place to go, and for confronting her regarding her behaviour toward me (I’ve lost my husband not my dignity) and for preserving what little dignity I have remaining, I’m “persona non-grata” – so instead of the unrepentant person being confronted and dealt with, the victim is put out.

            that’s real hurt – and I used my professional skills to save his own life when he was unwell, and as a widow with no recourse to future security – I DID IT AT MY OWN EXPENSE.

            all because she is insecure, crass, and refuses to get down off her high horse and apologise. NONE of us is above reproach. the wee vicar’s wife included.

            the church elder is his brother, and I am outsider / foreign national so I won’t be taken seriously but fobbed off.

            this is a case for letting them go there, and let the Holy Spirit deal with it, but I’ve now been left without support and in no position to move on – too fragile to build new relationships which take time TIME and when you are a widow, you need support.

            All because of one woman’s un-dealt with insecurity (the wife of someone who was like a true blood brother to me in my need of real family support) – and I’ll tell you I’ve heard widows talk about this over and over and over again. People feeling threatened by a widow, and doing a number on the widow as if she was an unsubstantiated threat to their marriage.

            Pure and undefiled religion indeed – instead of picking the flesh off a widow who has lost everything precious.

            what is WRONG with the church? the first instance of disagreement in TWENTY YEARS, and not even my fault, and the first reaction is ‘you’re out’. A person who was kind-hearted suddenly turning harsh. I never had a disagreement with him so did not know that he thought he and his high and mighty wife were *above reproach*. NONE of us is above reproach. I have a real problem on my hands – and I’m suffering as a result of someone else’s sin. And already a death blow of my sweet husband’s death.

            (all names withheld because I have taste and class).

            post script edit:
            ps. it would be great if I got a few thoughtful, wise, replies??

            query: – do I go to another of their local churches (knowing that his biological brother (the church elder) won’t listen to me) and force the issue?
            Really, to me, an apology that has to be that hard won – ie.. the need to extradite a simple apology from someone so very crass and thick, is an apology not worth having.

            So I decided to let them go, and follow the Prophet Jeremiah in Chapt 48, and become the dove who leaves the city to dwell in the rocky yawning ravine. I’m left harmed and with nothing.
            Yes yes I have God, but sorry after 45 years as a Christian, I don’t mind saying in the right context *God is not enough*, I need a network of Christian support – and I’m not fit to build new friendships after suffering dissection of my heart from my husband’s death – and now from my brother’s ostracising. This is sinful hypocrisy at it’s best! :'(

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Z7GMTWXF3W7RKZ4I2FJC7AESWM shadow

       That is one of many verses that make being a christian an impossible thing. One cannot control what thoughts flow through his/her mind, and suddenly they committed adultery. There are many such rules that are impossible to avoid, are completely human, and it tends to get quite discouraging to fight a normal human trait as sin, and spend all your life trying not to be human. Look at that verse. If that is a sin and adultery, how does anyone even find someone to marry? You close off all thoughts and you become a robot.

      • Ely_of_Cinci

        Hi Shadow,

        I could argue that someone looking for a marriage partner is not committing adultery as they, and hopefully the one they are interested in, are not married.  But that is missing the point of Christ’s sermon on the mount.  How difficult is it to turn the other cheek to my enemy?  And to the person who steals my coat; how do I give him my cloak as well?  How do you fight these natural survival instincts? Yes, it is impossible.It is a natural human trait as sin.  Don’t get hung up on the word sin; it is an archery term which means we miss the bulls eye; we miss the mark.  We all sin; we all fall short of perfection.  God makes no differentiation between types of sin; it all leads to spiritual death. The whole point is in and of ourselves, we cannot be righteous.  We depend on Christ’s righteousness, not our own.  As we depend more on Christ, and draw closer to Him, we become more like Him.  And in becoming more like Him, we take on His righteousness and discard our “poor excuse” for righteousness.

        So yes, being a Christian is impossible; you cannot do it by yourself depending on your own abilities.  But being a Christian is easy when you depend on Christ’s righteousness (His yoke is light).  After we accept Christ as the Messiah, we journey with Him, we seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  Peace and Blessings in Christ!

      • anonbristol

        No, but watch out for the second look. You can stop entertaining those thoughts.

  • Suzie

    I didn’t read all the comments.. but I wanted to share that I am thankful I have a pastor that confronts sin lovingly. We had a volunteer teaching our Jr. High students and he was also involved in a series on sex. He stepped down from his position just as leadership began to learn that he had been having his girl friend stay the night, go on vacation’s together and they are now currently living together. So leadership didn’t have to ask him to step down. The man has been married 2-3 times before and he is currently engaged to his live in fiance. Our pastor sat down to talk with him about living in sin. It needs to be addressed in our churches and done lovingly especially if its someone that has/had a role in teaching young people! I think its good for churches to have guidelines for their volunteers to adhere to. Also its important to confront sin of a brother or sister in Christ. This man has not been kicked out of church by any means. He still attends, so you can confront in love without kicking them out. Just don’t give them any leadership positions and any up front roles and they will eventually make the right decision or they will leave on their own because they will feel guilty or be mad that the leadership is not accepting their lifestyle of sin. 

  • JudeThree

    I have a sincere question and have no idea what to do. what if the pastor is guilty of #2 and #3, he has many in leadership who are involved in the paranormal (yes really)  and absolutely no one will do anything about it. it is a SBC and the ‘leadership’ of the region and state will not step in and do anything. they say it is up to the deacons to confront. I have left the church but am continually distressed about what is going on there. perhaps I need to drop it and let God deal?

    • debra roland

      It was a SBC church for me too. Makes me wonder about that organization.

  • Tweni

    absolutely true

  • Pastor et

    i was told that no one knows what sin is. since times have changed then the church has to update old definitions for sin. I was told that in stead of talking bout sin i should, instead, focus on making sure that people know that Jesus loves them regardless of what they do.
    i struggle with this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RinderBlessedMan Richard Ndereyahaga

    May we confront ourselves before going to confront others, God forgives us and helps us. My God, help us repent and live a pure and holy life. Neither me, nor my Brother/Sister is out of reach, send your Holy Spirit once again in me, in the hearts of my fellows, in your church, so that we may really live a repenting life. Hyprocrisy might leave our hearts and your Holy church, Help us Oh Lord. May your People understand that the Grace is not the synonym of free-sinning, I cry to You Oh Lord, come to my rescue, not only me, but all your children need this Lord, even though nthey may be misled in these so-called new gospels (which are merely another gospel). You know them, you know us, you know me better than any other else. I thank you, let me declare once again that I love you, and I’m eager to live the promised Holy and perfect life you promised since I accept and dedicated to Christ Jesus. In Jesus Christ, Amen. Thank You Father, Thank You Jesus Christ, Thank You Holy Spirit.

  • debra roland

    It was not that father’s place to even talk to his own pastor about his son-in-law. This article reminds me of my trying a church. I went to a group, new, and when I was leaving, the 2 leaders were in the parking lot in the dark making fun of me. I followed their own rules to try to resolve this, but those 2 closed ranks, the church covered them, and called me a liar. Nice christian examples there. I never went back.

  • CommonSense

    I have a question… This has been bothering me for a while now. I am a church leader. The majority of my friends are church leaders. Recently we had an impromptu getaway. We had to improvise and sleep on mattresses on a porch. The females stayed on one side and the males stayed on the other side of the porch. In the middle of the night it started raining and we had to move the mattresses. One female moved her mattress to the male side of the porch. After this I had trouble falling asleep. I look over to the male side and I see a figure sitting up and rocking. It was very dark and I thought to myself he is sleep walking. I watched him for a few minutes and the figure changed. It wasn’t someone sitting up, it was the female that switched sides on top of one of the males. I thought I was seeing things but then he laid back and she went towards him and laid on him. I didn’t want to say something and wake everyone else up. Instead I coughed, sneezed, tossed and turned hoping they would stop. I finally sat up and they stopped…

    They aren’t dating, they are friends, and she has a history of being head over heals for him, but he has no interest. They are part of the worship team, we teach, we counsel and we set an example for the youth at our church. I am really uncomfortable with them doing this, we they are church leaders.

    I consulted with a very good friend who is also a church board member and he recommended I confront her, and if it continued then to take it to a higher authority.

    So I spoke to her, I explained that was she was doing was wrong, not only in God’s eyes but as a role model, and a church leader. She wasn’t surprised, I got the impression she was going to continue her behavior but just hide it a little better. She confirmed they were not performing oral sex, or having sex but she did NOT want to say what they were doing. I told her exactly what it looked like.

    It has been two weeks since this conversation. And I don’t believe this has stopped. I don’t know what to do now. I really don’t want to go to the board. I really am not sure if I should go to a church elder or the pastor because the male in this situation is their close family. I don’t know if I should speak to her again. Maybe I am just being over-dramatic. Please help!!

    • pastor in training

      I will certainly pray, I believe you need to talk to an elder if you have noticed I am sure others have as well

  • anonbristol

    I am quite disheartened that I posted a serious genuine question, not including any names and was not in any way offensive or uncivil, speaking plainly about a situation involving a pastor and his wife and their unrepentant unforgiving attitude – asking genuinely what to do – and it was deleted!

    I put *alot* of effort in to writing it

  • Sojourner

    Thanks for this. I am struggling with how to do this well, and the article helped. Appreciate your wisdom.

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