Dear Mr. Hamilton,
Currently, I am struggling with how to deal with other believers and their sins. Specifically, at my place of work, there are coworkers who claim to be Christian and others to be Catholic. While I understand that you should warn people of their sin, and if you do not warn them, then you have sinned; it feels a bit overwhelming. There are many people who use curse words, euphemisms, Lord's name in vain, smoking, accepting homosexuality, etc. I feel like I should just gather all of these people in one room and give them all a checklist of what they are doing wrong. I am just not quite sure how to handle all of these people.
I also have a bit more complicated situation I would like some insight on. There is this one person that professes Christ, practices Catholicism, and claims to be homosexual. His actions do not make him seem repentant. About a year ago, I have asked him what he thought about homosexuality and the Bible. He stated homosexuality was not condemned, and when a New Testament passage said it is condemned, he claims it is Old Testament and no longer applies or it has some other meaning. He left the room shortly after, so I could not rebut his false points that same day and have not brought it up since. Now, I am trying to build a friendlier relationship with him by asking questions about the Catholic church, his role there, and encouraging Bible study. The hope is to show him that loving God means following His commandments. Am I supposed to treat this person as a brother or someone who does not know God?
Thank you for your time.
"Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: 'When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 'But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand'"" (Ezekiel 33:1-6).
When a watchman sees the enemy coming, does he need to announce each individual soldier? Yet, you think you are not warning people unless you tell them about every individual sin that you see. When a person is in sin, is there a difference between whether they are involved in five sins or ten sins?
Does a watchman need to issue warnings for every city or only the city he is assigned to guard? "So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me" (Ezekiel 33:7). Ezekiel didn't issue warnings for the Romans or the Germans. He did issue some warnings for neighboring countries, but stating what they were doing wrong, the warnings were fairly general.
You are focused on the end results, the sins, but what is really missing are the foundations. I just heard an excellent series last week that I'm thinking of "borrowing." But the main point is that before you can truly do justice in addressing moral issues, you have to make sure the foundations are in place. If a person doesn't believe in God, of course, they are going to get involved in all sorts of sins. If they don't believe the Bible to be God's teachings for mankind to follow, then again they will sin. If they don't believe that Jesus rose from the grave, then again they will sin because they don't really believe in a resurrection for themselves and a home in heaven.
It is true, that sometimes people need a wake-up call to realize that they are off-track, but there need to be foundations laid so that they will listen to what you are saying.
Let's take the homosexual Catholic. My one question for him is: Why is he practicing something that Roman Catholicism says is a sin? Notice that he is missing the foundation in the Bible. He dismisses what the Bible clearly states, so he never feels obligated to obey it. By the way, you did rebut his points -- that is why he left the room. You showed that the Bible doesn't support his beliefs. He claimed otherwise but left the room because he knows his argument is weak. A watchman's duty is in the warning, not in the acceptance of the warning.
There are very few denominations that follow the Bible close enough to say that members of the denomination are brethren in Christ. For example, most denominations do not practice baptism as taught by God in the Bible, including the Roman Catholics. Can someone be a brother when they have not yet entered into a relationship with Christ? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). Though they call themselves Christians, they neither practice Christianity nor have done the basic steps to become a Christian. They are further along the road than the atheist, but they are not yet Christians and it shows in their worldly behavior.