Should One Sin Define Us?

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Should One Sin Define Us?

Should One Sin Define Us?Liv­ing in a small town can be great. It can also have its chal­leng­ing moments. For instance, if you see some­one you don’t know and ask a friend about them you might hear, “Oh, that guy. That’s so-​and-​so,

You still look clue­lessly into your friends eyes.

He shakes his head. “Don’t you remem­ber he was the one who got drunk and rode his lawn­mower into the police sta­tion last year?

You reply, “Oh, it’s that guy.” Yeah, that guy. Or in other cases it’s that woman.

Pub­lic Sin & the Community

I’m talk­ing about peo­ple who have com­mit­ted a pub­lic sin that was ingrained on our con­scious­ness. Their actions was appar­ently enough for us and the rest of the com­mu­nity to define their whole lives by. For some rea­son, their sin­gle pub­lic sin gave us an insight into what their soul is made up of.

And what do we do? We bring that sin up every time we see that per­son. We gos­sip about it, spread the story, and never really give that per­son a chance to explain or change.

But what if we’re wrong? What if a soli­tary sin doesn’t reflect the truth of a per­son? Should one sin define us?

Pub­lic Sin & Scripture

Let’s step back and look at at least one Bib­li­cal exam­ple. How about Saul/​Paul? Per­se­cu­tor of Chris­tians. I would mark that up as a sin. But some­thing hap­pened on the road to Dam­as­cus and he was changed, forever.

A few things hap­pened after that expe­ri­ence. First, God changed Paul. Sin has no power over the Chris­t­ian and Christ saved Paul. Sec­ond, Paul spoke of his pre­vi­ous sin, but in the past tense (Gala­tians 1:13). He put it in the past where it belonged and he believed in the sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of Christ.

Finally, Paul gave notes to the church on how to han­dle some­one among us who sins: “Broth­ers, if any­one is caught in any trans­gres­sion, you who are spir­i­tual should restore him in a spirit of gen­tle­ness. Keep watch on your­self, lest you too be tempted.” (Gala­tians 6:1)
When we talk about Paul, we don’t con­cen­trate on what an amaz­ing per­se­cu­tor of Chris­tians he is. We talk about his let­ters, his expo­si­tions on grace and his writ­ings. Why? Because we know that regard­less of one act, God still res­cues peo­ple and causes all things to work together for His glory.

How Should We Treat Pub­lic Sin?

Sadly, it’s dif­fi­cult to see it in our own soci­ety. I often see pas­tors or church lead­ers who sin and they are forced to wear that sin like a scar­let let­ter. Should there be repen­tance? Yes, but also restora­tion back into the body of Christ.

I still hear mur­murs of peo­ple who look at fallen pas­tors and say, “he’s the guy who was a pas­tor and com­mit­ted adul­tery.” Or I’ll sit in church and hear peo­ple say under their breath about a per­son across the room, “that’s the woman who was a drug addict and had her kids taken from her.

Friends, this kind of lan­guage does not pro­mote grace. In fact, it pro­motes the idea that we will for­ever be labeled with the sin we com­mit. It expects that we will always be trapped in a sin.

Thanks be to God that He does not view any of us that way after we repent. He’s not hid­ing in the church foyer say­ing, “Look, there goes that one guy who used to be an alcoholic.….oh, and there’s that lady who was mar­ried three times.

God doesn’t do that to His chil­dren. He for­gives then for­gets. The same Apos­tle Paul wrote: “But you were washed, you were sanc­ti­fied, you were jus­ti­fied in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthi­ans 6:11)

I encour­age you to for­give the same. To look at peo­ple the way Christ looks at them. Not by keep­ing a record of their sins, but by look­ing at what their future can be when grace abounds.

_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​

Ray Car­roll is the author of “Fallen Pas­tor: Find­ing Restora­tion in a Bro­ken World,” which answers many of the ques­tions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pas­tor who needs to talk or you are some­one who has been affected by a fallen pas­tor and would like to con­tact me pri­vately, please click here. You are the main rea­son this min­istry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, asso­ci­a­tion, con­fer­ence, or news out­let and would like more infor­ma­tion about this min­istry, please click here.

Should One Sin Define Us?Living in a small town can be great. It can also have its challenging moments. For instance, if you see someone you don’t know and ask a friend about them you might hear, “Oh, that guy. That’s so-and-so,

You still look cluelessly into your friends eyes.

He shakes his head. “Don’t you remember he was the one who got drunk and rode his lawnmower into the police station last year?

You reply, “Oh, it’s that guy.” Yeah, that guy. Or in other cases it’s that woman.

Public Sin & the Community

I’m talking about people who have committed a public sin that was ingrained on our consciousness. Their actions was apparently enough for us and the rest of the community to define their whole lives by. For some reason, their single public sin gave us an insight into what their soul is made up of.

And what do we do? We bring that sin up every time we see that person. We gossip about it, spread the story, and never really give that person a chance to explain or change.

But what if we’re wrong? What if a solitary sin doesn’t reflect the truth of a person? Should one sin define us?

Public Sin & Scripture

Let’s step back and look at at least one Biblical example. How about Saul/Paul? Persecutor of Christians. I would mark that up as a sin. But something happened on the road to Damascus and he was changed, forever.

A few things happened after that experience. First, God changed Paul. Sin has no power over the Christian and Christ saved Paul. Second, Paul spoke of his previous sin, but in the past tense (Galatians 1:13). He put it in the past where it belonged and he believed in the sanctification of Christ.

Finally, Paul gave notes to the church on how to handle someone among us who sins: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)
When we talk about Paul, we don’t concentrate on what an amazing persecutor of Christians he is. We talk about his letters, his expositions on grace and his writings. Why? Because we know that regardless of one act, God still rescues people and causes all things to work together for His glory.

How Should We Treat Public Sin?

Sadly, it’s difficult to see it in our own society. I often see pastors or church leaders who sin and they are forced to wear that sin like a scarlet letter. Should there be repentance? Yes, but also restoration back into the body of Christ.

I still hear murmurs of people who look at fallen pastors and say, “he’s the guy who was a pastor and committed adultery.” Or I’ll sit in church and hear people say under their breath about a person across the room, “that’s the woman who was a drug addict and had her kids taken from her.

Friends, this kind of language does not promote grace. In fact, it promotes the idea that we will forever be labeled with the sin we commit. It expects that we will always be trapped in a sin.

Thanks be to God that He does not view any of us that way after we repent. He’s not hiding in the church foyer saying, “Look, there goes that one guy who used to be an alcoholic…..oh, and there’s that lady who was married three times.

God doesn’t do that to His children. He forgives then forgets.  The same Apostle Paul wrote: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

I encourage you to forgive the same. To look at people the way Christ looks at them. Not by keeping a record of their sins, but by looking at what their future can be when grace abounds.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

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