Who is Really in Charge?
Christ is in charge, His Word is the authority, His children want to obey,
so the Church must not sweep defiant sin under the rug
FBC is a simple church. We do not think of ourselves as exceptional. We are not trying to say or do what is new or trendy, but old and truthful. As a church, we want to simply follow Christ by obeying the Bible. If that makes us unique, then it is not us who have changed, but everyone else. In a day when churches entertain with ear-tickling sermons, we hope to be the church that preaches God’s Word as written–no matter what.
And you know what that means–we’ll say biblical things that are not popular. We’ll preach what the Bible says about sin, even though society describes sin as an alternative lifestyle and compromising churches preach tolerance and acceptance. At FBC, we are not trying to draw a crowd, but honor Christ by proclaiming His Word as the Lord meant it to be heard, in a normal, literal interpretation of the Bible, honoring its history, grammar, language and context.
Many of you have come from churches where you were grieved, because the literal teaching of the Scripture was being ignored or abused. Some are from churches where clear sin issues were being swept under the rug, and it broke your heart to see what it did to God’s people, and feared what it would do to your children.
Now in light of a declining society, which doesn’t embrace absolutes, truth, biblical morality, responsibility for evil actions, or even the ability to call sinful behavior wrong, my sermon today may appear unloving, judgmental, even shocking. But to those who understand that God’s Word teaches right and wrong, righteousness and sin, consequences, responsibility, and calling sinful behavior sin, my sermon today will not be no stunning to you at all.
In the life of our church, today is a game changer. The Spirit will use the Word of God to expose your heart, test your faith and challenge your beliefs. It may be your last Sunday with us–I hope not. But this study will create some tension in your life and create conversation in your home that will require wisdom. My only plea is–if you can, do not leave until you’ve heard the entire message. Now if you leave early today, everyone will be wondering.
At FBC, as long as I live, and as long as you continue to have faithful elders, I will only teach the Bible and seek to obey the Bible, even when it is not popular or funny or feel good. We are passionate to teach the Bible as written and proclaim sound, healthy doctrine, no matter what. So hang on, friends–here we go.
How many of you here sin every single day? Raise your hand. Until Heaven, you are going to battle with behavior, thoughts, speech and attitudes that are contrary to God’s Word and an insult to God’s perfect character. As a believer, you are free from the penalty of sin, the power of sin–but until Heaven you are not free from the presence of sin in your life. And the key for Christians is to depend on God, confess it in prayer, repent of sin in action, seek help from fellow-believers to hold you up as you battle against the devil, the world and primarily your own flesh in this war with sin.
Paul called himself currently, present tense, “the chief of sinners.” He prayed, “Who would free me from this struggle?” And every true believer knows of the battle to flee youthful, sinful lusts and pursue righteousness. As a Christian matures, they will grow in holiness—but they will never be free of unintentional sin until Heaven.
But what happens when a so-called believer stops battling and intentionally sins? Under the law, in Numbers 15 God makes a distinction between unintentional sin and defiant sin. Unintentional sin required an offering, defiant sin required excommunication or worse. So now in the Church, what happens when someone who claims to be a Christian, but lives in ongoing, unrepentant, intentional sin–when they choose to be defiant? Meaning, they know what God’s Word says about their sin, but they intentionally, defiantly determine they will pursue to live in that sin anyway?
The New Testament answers that question–as Christians and as a Church body, God requires that we confront the defiantly sinning brother or sister and call them to repentance, only in order to restore them before their intentional, ongoing sin destroys them, harms their family, and ruins the health and witness of their local church family.
If someone you love is drowning, it is unloving to not point to the only life preserver. If someone is dying of a disease, it is unloving to not give them the only cure. If someone is choosing to destroy himself with sin by forsaking a marriage vow, harming his own children and damaging more than one family–you’re unloving if you don’t confront. Sin is a thief, a destroyer–it’s dangerous and damaging, so much so, the Bible says we must at times, Matthew 18:17, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”
Let me help you understand why the Bible requires all true churches to pursue ongoing, intentionally sinning, unrepentant so-called Christians, by asking three questions.
A Who is in CHARGE?
Am I in charge, are the elders in charge? Who is the ultimate authority requiring churches and Christians to obey? Answer–Christ is the head of His Church and the sovereign God of the universe. The Bible teaches the Triune God is running things. He is large and in charge, the Lord sovereign, the in-control Master who determines right and wrong, and the One who will accomplish His purposes in all things–no matter what.
God does as He pleases, only as He pleases and always as He pleases. Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Everything that happens is either caused or allowed by the one true God. Right? Joseph said even when his brothers tried to kill him, Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
The New Testament declares God is at work in everything to bring about His good purposes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
After being humbled by God, the greatest Gentile king who ever lived said in Daniel 4:34, “I blessed the Most High… For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does what he wills with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What are you doing?’” Make no mistake, God is in charge–and no one can thwart His will.
B Aren’t Christians FREE under grace?
Yes, but salvation doesn’t free you from the consequences of sin. Again, salvation frees you from the penalty of sin, even the power of sin, but not from the presence of sin yet, or the consequences of sin now. All believers will reap what you sow. To say salvation frees you from the consequences of sin is to say, “If I’m a genuine Christian, I can rob a bank and not have to go to jail.”
Paul pointedly reminds the Romans never to think of God’s grace as a license to sin. Romans 6:1 and 2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” When you’re saved, you are not only justified before God, but you are also born again, transformed internally, and given a new heart with new abilities. A true Christian has the ability to know God intimately and follow God’s commands obediently. But that requires you be truly saved, genuinely converted–truly born again.
The only way you can know the God who is in charge is to submit to His plan of salvation. You are forever separated from God because of your sinfulness, which is so horrific, so rebellious, so vial, so impure, and so disgusting God will send you to eternal torment in Hell forever because of your sins. Sin is so bad, God had to kill His own perfect Son in order for you to be saved. You can’t be holy enough, good enough, religious enough, pure enough to somehow get right with God. Your church, your family, your doctrine, your decisions, your emotional moments or amazing service do not save you from your sins. You are hopeless and helpless.
But because of God’s great love and mercy, the Father sent the Son to live a perfectly obedient life, then take the punishment you deserved on the cross on your behalf. It is faith and trust in the death and resurrection of the only perfect one that provides the only way of salvation. You exchange your sin for his righteousness. You surrender your life and embrace His life. You exchange all that you are for all that He is. You embrace Christ by turning from your sin in repentance and depending on His work and His life by faith. Only then can you be saved.
Second Corinthians 5:15, “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you now live for yourself and do what you want. When you surrender to Christ as Lord, it means you are His slave and He is your Master, because He is the sovereign.
And the good news is, when you’re saved it’s because God caused you to be born again. He gave you a new heart that desires to obey God and is now empowered by God to follow His Word. Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Never perfectly, but all genuine Christians want to obey God’s Word. So much so, one of the key indicators of a genuine Christian, one of the main assurances you are a Christian, is your desire and pursuit of obeying God’s Word.
Even when you fail to obey, you will still want to obey. First John 2:4, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Submission to Christ and obedience to His Word is a normal expectation for a real believer.
C How do you KNOW what God wants you (and us) to do?
God’s will is God’s Word. And the only way we know God’s will is to know His Word. And the only way we can be in God’s will is to obey His Word. Practically, that means you don’t pick and choose what you want to obey, but you follow the New Testament commands for the Church and believers. You do what God says.
One of the passions of FBC is for you to follow principles, not preachers. You follow the Bible, not blabbers. You don’t do what I say, but do what Christ says. I’m nothing, but Christ is everything. I’ve nothing to say, but anything Christ says in His Word is true, right and best–every single time. We repeatedly plead with you not to listen to me. But we continually exhort you and seek to model for you that you would do what God says in His Word all the time.
Anybody that doesn’t do what the head commands is in real trouble. That includes the Church and Christ–Christ is the head of the Church and His Word is what He wants, teaching you to live out His will on this planet. You’re to obey God’s Word like the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. “We … constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
And trust His Word like Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Our preachers work 15 to 25 hours on each sermon to make certain we are bringing you the author’s intended message. Every verse in the Bible has only one true meaning–and that was the intended meaning from the original author to the original audience, in their language, in their time, in their culture. Then once you understand what it truly means, then you can make correct application for today.
So when the Bible says racism is sin, we call it sin and hold each other accountable to never manifest any partiality. We enjoy each other’s differences, foods, thinking–but we never evaluate on the basis of skin color or country or language or background. Ever—unless you live in Hemet with ten cats. We never seek to be politically correct, but biblically correct. We want what Christ wants, and we hate what Christ hates–learned from His Word.
When the Bible teaches men and women are distinct sexes, then as a church we uphold the unique roles of men and women and reject the cultural pressure of no distinction, and the weird and perverse thinking of transgenderism. We expect men to lead our church and lead their homes. We expect our men to primarily minister to men and women to minister to women. We demand that dads and moms disciple their children to follow Christ. We expect our husbands to love their wives and wives to submit to their husbands, because that is what God teaches in His Word.
From some, that’s all messed up–but not for us. We don’t care about culture considerations, we care about Christ. We are not here to prevent you from getting sick with Covid-19, but to prevent you from spending an eternity in Hell because of your sins through Christ. We’re not here to make things easy for you, but for you to get ready for eternity.
As a church, we will seek to obey God’s Word, including the command to submit to government, until the government tells us we can’t obey the command to gather–then we will gather anyway, because we must obey God rather than men. As a church, we don’t care what is trendy–we just care about the truth. We are only concerned with obeying the will of our Master, found in His Word. If God calls adultery sin, we don’t call it an affair–it is sin. Since God in His Word calls homosexuality and lesbianism sin, we call it sin—period.
So now that you have been reminded that God is in charge, that salvation is by grace, but results in a heart that wants to obey, and God’s Word reveals God’s will–what does God say in His Word about pursuing a so-called Christian who is intentionally sinning in ongoing, unrepentant sin? With unintentional sin, we confess, repent, seek help, sometimes ask others. When it is others, we help–we may even overlook their sins, like 1 Peter 4:8, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” But what about defiant sin? Unintentional sin is like you going to the doctor to get help when you are deathly ill, and you take the meds, change your diet, get rest, do what you must to get well.
DEFIANT SIN is you refuse to go to the doctor when you are deathly ill, take no meds, eat all the worst food, get no rest and refuse to even try to get well. Every one of us here battles with sin–but not everyone here is defiant in sin. When someone is defiant in their sin the Bible commands–if you love them, then you will confront them. You will not let them drown in their sin, but throw them the hope of God’s life preserver–His Word. You will not sit by as they destroy themselves or their family with the lies of sin, but you will give them the only hope anyone has–His truth. If you have read your Bible, you’ve seen these verses all over the New Testament–here are a few.
Galatians 6:1 and 2 says, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual [in the Spirit], restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens [hold each other up], and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
If it is personal sin against you, Matthew 18:15ff gives us four steps to follow. STEP ONE, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. [STEP TWO] 16But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. [STEP THREE] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; [and STEP FOUR] if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
When there is ongoing immorality, idolatry or drunkenness, 1 Corinthians 5:11 says, “I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 13But those who are outside, God judges.” Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. Get them out of the church, if they remain defiant.
When there is ongoing, unrepentant false teaching or divisiveness, Romans 16:17 says, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” And Titus 3:10 and 11, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
Today, when someone defiantly disobeys God’s Word, most often they fade away–they’re politely ignored, or they are even encouraged in their sin. But when a church and its members obey the Scripture, in contrast to society and most churches today, they will pursue the defiant believer so they would repent. If you truly love someone who claims to know Christ or they are uncertain, you will pursue them if they’re sinning defiantly. You’ll do what is best for them, only so they would repent, and only so they can be restored. This is why Church discipline is a normal process in a healthy church.
Discipline is never directed at those in the battle against their own flesh and sin, but discipline is directed at those who are defiant, self-deceived and intentional in their sin. What kind of sins? Galatians 6 says any sin—“Even if anyone is caught in any trespass.” It could be gossip, divisiveness, idolatry, drunkenness–any sin. But because of the deceptiveness of sin and the horrific power of sexual sin, most often Church discipline is exercised because a so-called Christian is not faithful to their marriage and/or defiantly addicted to some form of physical immorality.
You all know what the Bible says about MARRIAGE. Malachi 2:14, “The Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. [YOU MADE A VOW!] 15… let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
There are times when believers must call a Christian to be faithful to their spouse and obey the vow they made to God, often before hundreds of witnesses–no matter how difficult the marriage is. A marriage is based upon a vow and consummation. Marriage can be broken by adultery which breaks the consummation, and abandonment which breaks the vow–which is why Romans 13:9 says, “You shall not commit adultery”–all sin is bad, adultery is devasting.
You all know what the Bible says about HOMOSEXUALITY. Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.”
The New Testament says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6:9 to 11, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were [past tense, not currently] some of you…”
Romans 1:18,26,27, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 26for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” Sin destroys lives, marriages, families, friendships, and churches, if we’re are not obedient to our Lord in pursuing the defiant, ongoing, unrepentant sinner to repent.
That is why, with great sorrow, I have to inform you of the sin of my friend. He is unrepentant. He is defiant in his sin. He has broken his marriage vow. He has deserted his family and is pursuing the perversion of homosexuality. Once he confessed to his wife about six weeks ago, he wrote me this text almost word-for-word. The text was titled, “STEPPING DOWN/SIN”.
“Chris and John, it is with a heavy heart that I have to tell both of you that I have and continue to be in unrepentant sin. I just confessed to [MY WIFE] and I have been having a homosexual affair. Unfortunately, I am not repentant and I know I will be going through the church discipline process. I wanted to let you know because both of you mean so much to me and I know you guys will have to find someone to fill (my role in ministry). I am sorry that my sin has and is going to cause so much devastation.”
This sin has been going on since October 2019. He admitted to it in August. Even after several face-to-face interactions with close friends and spiritual leaders, along with texts, emails, and phone calls by the entire membership of FBC pleading for repentance and restoration, this man refuses to repent. There has been no desire to obey God’s Word at all–no repentance from sin.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:17, “and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” The two lowest people in the Jewish culture would be a Gentile and a tax collector. As of today, you and I are to no longer to have fellowship, have fun, hang out, talk shop with this man except to call him to turn in repentance from His sins and depend by faith in Christ. Nothing but to plead with him to turn from his sin and be restored in faith to his forgiving Savior.
His wife and kids are being cared for and will continue to be as she walks with Christ. She is surrounded by a healthy support group of supportive friends. Please pray for the family, but only talk to her friends as to how you might help. I mean it when I say, she has been an example of a godly woman throughout this ordeal.
Please think deeply about what you have heard, and apply it.
A Church Discipline is designed to cause you to FEAR God and not people
Church Discipline is God’s command, God’s will, and God’s plan for His Church. So much so, Jesus in Matthew 18:18 to 20 states it this way–verses often poorly interpreted. “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
This is not a promise in prayer, but a promise that God will be with us as we pursue Church discipline. Doing discipline on Earth has the agreement of Heaven. God approves and embraces Church discipline for His Church. Fear God and not me–I have no human desire to be doing this. Fear God and not FBC–as a church, we only do this when we have to. Fear God and not people–love and trust people. But never forget, even Christians are capable of great sin and evil.
Fear God and not this sinning brother–he has sinned greatly against God, his wife, his family and church, but never sexually against his kids or any person, child or adult, in our church. If he had, we would tell you. Fear God and not the church–you have nothing to fear here unless you choose to defiantly sin as a way of life. Then fear God.
B Church Discipline is designed to PURIFY you
As someone who claims to be a Christian or is unsure you are a believer–when there is ongoing, unrepentant sin in your life, biblically it can mean only one of two things is true.
ONE You are either DISOBEDIENT awaiting God’s DISCIPLINE, or
TWO you are self-DECEIVED awaiting God’s DAMNATION
God promises to spank His own children. Hebrews 12:6 and 8, “For the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts. 8If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children.”
Examine your life, friends–if there is ongoing, unrepentant sin in your life, you’re either disobedient and God will spank you at some point. Or you are self-deceived and you are headed to Hell. Your response to that truth will indicate which one you are.
C Discipline reminds you of God’s PURSUIT of you
Jesus paints a descriptive picture in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” Notice the word drawn–it literally means to drag, to capture a prisoner and drag them away to jail. It’s used in the book of James to describe dragging you into court. It is not a sweet, tender, pleasant draw–but a forceful, against your will, drag you.
“No one can come to me unless [DRAGGED against your will] by the Father.” With Church discipline, we are pursuing, chasing the sinner—who is often not responding. But my friends, that was you–and that was me. Yet the Lord loved you so much, He kept aggressively chasing you down. Then finally He did some violence to your soul so you could respond to Him in repentance. Never forget His pursuit of love for you. Let’s pray.