I believe in Lordship salvation. Which means that when one becomes a Christian we WILL see a change in the person’s life. There WILL be noticeable fruit. Living in Utah, one of the biggest criticisms from Mormons is that, “Protestants (for lack of a better term) think they can say they’re a Christian and turn around and murder someone and everything’s ok.”
It’s a part of the whole works vs. faith discussion.
And whenever we hear that argument we wish that easy believism would go die a quick death.
Lordship Salvation teaches what Paul does in Romans, “Should we go on sinning that grace may abound? By no means!” No, we shouldn’t go on sinning… but we also know we will.
The crux of the issue is the heart. When I sin is my heart saying, “Oh it’s ok God will forgive me again. After all I’m not that bad. ” or is it saying, “Why am I doing this? I know it’s not pleasing to God. Wretched man that I am, Lord forgive me and give me strength to overcome temptation.”
However, I’m also beginning to understand that until a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit about their individual sins, as brothers and sisters in Christ we need to be more patient.
My thoughts on this have come from personal observations and after reading “My Ex-Gay Friend,” a New York Times article about Michael Glatze. Once on the forefront of the gay-rights movement, he had a health scare and became a born-again Christian. In the article Michael talks about how his first year as a Christian he gravitated toward liberal Christianity, which finds no sin in a homosexual lifestyle. However, the Lord convicted him. He left his homosexual lifestyle and has since become a heterosexual.
I mention this article, because I was struck by how my conservative Christian background would have responded to him in that first year of his Christian life. Believing that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin, I would have been uncomfortable with him declaring Christ’s name and not willing to walk away from his boyfriend or his work as a gay-rights activist. Some people would call me judgmental. And while I do believe that there is a place for judgement to be made within the brotherhood of Christianity, I also am seeing the need to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
I think sometimes we need to be reminded that God interacts and grows each of us differently. Each of us have different battles to fight and have been given different strengths and weaknesses. Some are given a special sensitivity to sin, I think. They, especially, need to learn to be patient and loving with new and old believers alike.
As we notice the sins of our fellow Christians we need to recognize a few things:
1. They may already be aware of it and fighting it, but with little noticeable (from the outside) progress.
2. They may be struggling with a different sin and don’t feel like they could win a war on a divided front.
3. They may be defensive about it because they like their sin.
4. They may not even recognize their action as sinful.
With the third reason, I believe we still need to be slow with this person. Badgering them into recognizing their sin is not loving or helpful. I do believe there are times when we are to shut our mouths and open our prayer journals, if you will. While we are given the mandate in Galatians 6:1 to restore those who are caught in transgression, we are also told to do it with gentleness.
With the forth reason, I think it imperative that we clear in our explanation as to why the action is sinful. Showing scriptural references and indulgent in our explanations. We also need not be disappointed or frustrated if they don’t heed our advice immediately. We just need to be patient as this different kind of seed that was planted will, more than likely, eventually flourish in the fertilized heart of a believer.
So, be encouraged my family in the faith. If you notice a brother in sin, encourage them to become more like Christ, but be gentle; be quick to listen and slow to speak. If you are approached about your sin, be humble, be encouraged by their love and concern for you. You also, be quick to listen and slow to speak.