What People Don’t Want to Hear.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation. . .”
2 Corinthians 7:10a

     Repentance has become a very unpopular subject these days. I’ve been noticing a most irritating trend among a good deal of preachers of watering down the Gospel to minimize the role of repentance. It’s not fun to hear, and therefore it is not talked about nearly enough. People don’t like hearing about repentance because it makes them uncomfortable about their sin. 

     Far too often Christianity is watered down into motivational speaking and a self-help guide to being a good person. The darker, more difficult elements are just brushed under the rug, because they might not be as appealing to the masses. Yes, aiming to win as many people as possible is a good thing, however, it cannot be done at the expense of true Christianity. 

      Christianity is not meant to be about happiness all the time. There is a time for godly sorrow. It is important to grieve over sin. God takes sin seriously. In light of that, who are we to take it lightly? God is not tolerant. God is jealous, God is just, God is wrathful, but most of all, God is loving. He hates sin and loves us so passionately that He sent His own Son to die on a cross to destroy it so that He wouldn’t have to destroy us because of it. Because He did so much to destroy sin, it grieves Him when we continue in it. And anyone that follows Jesus should be grieved by what grieves Him. Our sin should be ample cause for weeping.

     This sorrow should bring repentance. This is what I hear far too little of in most Christian books, and sermons. God demands that we turn from our sin. The word itself literally means to turn completely away and go the opposite direction. We cannot go on tolerating sinful lifestyles. That’s the part that nobody likes to hear. God hates your sin. God loves you, but hates what you do.  

     Following Jesus means renouncing everything else. Renouncing your old lifestyle, renouncing your culture, renouncing your own interests. It is not easy. It is not pretty. It is not always fun. But it is worth it. I have to wonder what it would be like if we stopped worrying so much about offending people and actually called out sin for what it is. I wonder what the Church in America would be like if actually lived out that cliche of “loving the sinner and hating the sin.” 

     I think sometimes we become so afraid of being judgemental that we think we can’t stand up and say that something is wrong. We need to realize that Jesus does indeed love us, but He loves us too much to allow us to go on living in sin. This is the same love that we need to have for others. We need to love them enough to tell them that they are wrong

     I suppose this was more of a ramble than anything, but I just wanted to get it out of me. I guess, all I’m trying to say is this: love people, hate evil, don’t mix the two. Our motivation should not be to win popularity for ourselves or for the Church, but to bring freedom to those that are captive to sin, to bring the hope of the Gospel to the hopeless, and to bring God the glory. Grieve over your sin, turn away from it, and teach others to do the same.

About Jonathon Thigpen

I am a student, writer, photographer, traveler, teacher, and Lego enthusiast, who is endeavouring to be a man after God's own heart.
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10 Responses to What People Don’t Want to Hear.

  1. J.F. Arnold says:

    You say “God loves you, but hates what you do. ”

    It is an oft used phrase, and one that I’m not even sure that I disagree with. But what does this look like in application? Specifically, how do we love someone, hate their sin, and communicate the love at the same time? People who are living in sin often identify themselves with that sin (smoker, homosexual, playboy, etc.), and it will always feel like a personal attack when you say that sin is wrong.

    • A good question, sir. And quite frankly, there is no formula for what that looks like for each individual person. Though, I would point out, that condemnation of sin should always be coupled with an offer of grace. “Yes, your sin is wrong. Yes, you are condemned by the Holy God. But here is how God fixed it.”
      I think there is a key between judging them on our own, and showing them that God is doing the judgement. We have no right to judge, but God does. A phrase I heard that summed it up well was: “You’re a sinner, just like me.” A lot of it has to do with attitude. However, there will always be people that will be offended no matter how gracious you are. That is because ultimately the Gospel is offensive. It shows people how evil they are and that is a very offensive thing. My point wasn’t to throw graciousness out the window, but rather to not be afraid of making enemies. That’s something that is a side-effect of the Gospel. Yes, we should make every effort to love people and not make them hate us, but we should also not be surprised if they hate us anyway.

  2. Brenda Ford says:

    Jesus told the woman caught in adultery something we often forget. But first of all He saved her from being stoned. He said, “Go and sin no more.” That is loving the sinner and hating the sin. :0) What she understood was that she was in need of a Savior, therefore, she did repent and follow Jesus.

    If we tell the truth of the gospel in love and in the power of the Spirit, and the “sinner” in question is offended, it is Jesus they are rejecting in the end. On that day of judgment in heaven, all mouths will be silenced, because all will know then that what they “identified with” in this life did not compare to the ultimate sacrifice of love and justice of our Lord and Creator.

    I would rather chose a million times to “offend” and in love share that Jesus has taken our rightful place on the cross, than to have them point a finger at me and say, “WHY did you NOT tell me?” …only then to answer, “I didn’t want to offend you.” :0)

    • That’s exactly what I was getting at, Mrs. Ford. Good thoughts.
      And I often refer back to the woman caught in adultery. That is a perfect demonstration of Christ’s character. There is no longer condemnation, but we are still to “go and sin no more.”

  3. While I agree it’s easy to fall into an “out of sight, out of mind” routine, I think sin often manifests itself in ways more complicated than a simple “go and sin no more” can resolve. That approach works wonders on people who are already to the point of sorrow. Take Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5-6) and the Adulterer (John 8:1-11) for example.

    What about the people haven’t reached the point where they’re terrified for their lives? As Mr. Arnold points out, often times telling a person they’re wrong, even with love as your motivation, comes across as condemnation. And to be fair it IS condemnation. While I agree we need to love people enough to be willing to bring up sensitive subjects, I think you left out an important step and that your call to action should read: “We need to love them enough to get to know them enough to tell them that they are wrong.”

    The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-34) is a great biblical example of this. Jesus shows just how much He loves the Samaritan woman by respecting her instead of simply saying she’s loved. Only after He has a conversation with her does he reveal not only does He love her in spite of her nationality, but also in spite of her great sin (John 4:17-18).

    I feel that often we get stuck at “I love you, God loves you, you should stop doing x and you’ll be an awesome!” without getting to know the person first. It’s easy to describe faults, it’s hard to live in such a way that people see God (even if they don’t know it) and want to repent. Sometimes you have to accept people where they’re at, sin and all.

    • Patrick,
      That’s exactly right. I whole-heartedly agree with getting to know people first. That is a very important step and it certainly is necessary to be able to tell people they’re wrong and actually have them listen to you. After all, it’s always important to remember that we’re not trying to win arguments, but we’re trying to win hearts. Though, what I was getting at is that we can’t just ignore sin. Once we’re in the position to show it for what it is, we must do that. We must love people, we must get to know them, but we can’t end there. We must tell them the truth as well. Thanks for reading and for the great comment!

  4. Rebecca says:

    “So there” to all those who scream “Don’t judge me!!” as an excuse to stay in sin.

  5. Jo Pinegar says:

    This is a great post to read! Thank you Jon for this truthful reminder =)

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