The American church continues to give evidence of its ever-deteriorating state. No longer can we, without rebuke, “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12) that we might “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (4:14), but it’s though the visible church is eager to “not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Whether the above is the consequence or the cause of this woeful condition, the American church no longer practices church discipline, it exploits and abuses Christian judgment, and it has lost its grip on what it means to exhort, encourage, admonish, teach, correct, reproof, and build one another up in the faith in love founded on truth (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Instead, any constructive criticism given to other believers is seen as unrighteous judgment, hypocrisy, legalism, Phariseeism, or hatred. Mostly, the response was favorable and it was understood that Tim has a heart to honor and glorify Christ and to make Him known, despite the persecution he faces. He has demonstrated that he is humble when his enemies oppose him, and he seems to always point to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, it seems Tim Tebow has become the poster boy for evangelicalism, and any criticism, no matter how much intended to be an exhortation and admonishment for biblical teaching and practice, is considered “gossip” and “slander” by the “judge not” crowd.
What has happened to the church? Instead of following Scripture to confront our brothers in sin (Galatians 6:1, James 5:20), professing Christians yell, “don’t judge me” or “we’re all sinners” or “don’t judge them because ‘we all fall short of the glory of God.’” Yet, Paul was clear in his admonishment to the Corinthians after hearing about their handling of an adulterer in their assembly:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
The American church would be just fine if this Scripture was removed from the Bible – the church operates as if it doesn’t exist anyway. But God commands we judge and confront professing Christians when they exhibit a worldly lifestyle, are in error, or have sinned (whether knowingly or unknowingly). In fact, we see in the oft-abused Matthew 7 passage that it is after we have repented from our own sin, then we have authority and permission to confront our brothers (verse 5). Verse 1 says nothing of never judging, but warns against judging unrighteously and hypocritically.
Instead of addressing the error of our brothers in love and humility, we are condemned for making any mention of their error – no matter how egregious. The argument is that we are all on different paths and paces, and we should just let the Lord do His work in us, but we should never confront each other as that would be judging. It’s pathetic, really. Wimpy even. This is not how God has designed for godly men and godly women to operate in the Body of Christ. The fact is, God uses us to help each other grow in sanctification!
We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once delivered to us (Jude 1:3). We are exhorted to teach and defend sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:4; 6:2-5, 20; 2 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 2:1; 1 Peter 3:15). We are commanded to confront our brothers in sin (Galatians 6:1; James 5:20; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). We are commanded to practice church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:5).
How is it, then, the American church hates these very things? It is because liberalism, carnal christianity, and the repentant-less modern message has infected us. Easy-believism is king. Discernment is dead. Another “gospel” is being preached. The God of the Bible is not acknowledged or worshiped. The church has conformed to the world and tolerates sin. The church has replaced doctrine with emotions, the Gospel for “your best life now” or “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” No one wants to be accountable for their actions, and no one wants to be told they are in error. Frankly, carnal people resist or hate truth.
The divide between the visible and invisible church is growing steadily. The one is diving deeper into darkness, the other is rising higher into holiness. God’s grace abounds in the Body of Christ, and we want nothing more than to be conformed to His likeness. We increasingly hate sin, and love holiness. We increasingly hate deception, and love truth. When we are in error, we want nothing more than to be confronted so we can be corrected.
So, dear Christian, instead of putting up such a fuss when you see your brothers confronting the sin or error of their brothers, take a moment to thoroughly examine whether what they say is true. Take heed,
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
Humble yourself before the Lord, and consider you might be in error yourself for the way you react to Christian discipline and admonishment. It is pride to think you already have it all figured out. I know I don’t, which is why I must repent from my own pride constantly so I can continue to change that I would be conformed to my Lord and Savior. Open yourself up to correction, surround yourself with godly brothers and sisters who will correct you, and when corrected, repent.
My friends, love disciplines, love submits, love defends, and love obeys. Love longs for the truth, and it flees from error. Flee from the tentacles of American christianity and run to Christ, ever yielding to His lordship. Why is this so important? Because God tells us to
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).
All of us, including Tim Tebow, need to heed this exhortation, especially regarding matters of the Eternal Life. We need to be sure that we are progressing in holiness, and we need to be sure our message (and practice/methodology) is lined up with God’s Word.
Don’t be a thin-skinned Christian, ask yourself, “Am I a Defensive Person?” You just might be. Repent.