Is someone in your life stuck in a sinful lifestyle? Are you stuck on how to help them without stirring offense or starting arguments? Many sinful lifestyles have become prevalent enough to become acceptable in modern day culture.
The simplified definition of sin is anything that would separate us from God.
Here are some key-points to consider when talking to someone who is living in a sinful lifestyle.
1. We must be careful not to allow our own stand against sin become elevated over Christ's salvation. Our stand against sin should never shame the person trapped in sin and make them feel hated, unvalued, or blocked from redemption. Jesus came to earth and died to overcome sin. His sacrifice was more than enough to conquer it. Let's keep that in mind. Sin is not greater than His salvation. Sin should not be preached louder than the message of salvation. Nothing we say or do can change them from their own lifestyle. It's not by any of our own acts they might become saved, but by the leading of the spirit revealed in them in which our friends would discover the love and redemption of Jesus.
2. My own experiences in a sinful lifestyle has kept me humble. Once trapped in a world of alcohol, drugs and sexual impurities, the shame of those actions kept me from church for a long time. Even going back into church was difficult. I wanted to get closer to God. I knew I needed him. My sin had left a "grease stain" inside of me that kept me from seeing own self-worth. Going to church was so difficult. Although I stepped out of the lifestyle, I shamed myself for having lived it at all. The shame taunted my value, self-worth, and stunted personal growth.
When you're talking with someone who has lived or is living in a sinful lifestyle, remember they already felt the shame. They don't need more of that. They need more Jesus.
3. Apart from the unforgiveable sin, all is created equal. Romans 1:16 and 1:29-32 provides a list of sinful acts.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
As the church, we should not select a single sin and selectively exalt that sin on a pedestal. We preach against murder, but we don't preach against gossip. We preach against sexual sin, but won't talk about acts of envy or strife? The same chapter that outlines sexual impurities also talked against murder and gossip; arrogance and disobedience; infidelity and envy.
We all fall short. We all sin. It's only through Christ that we have found redemption.
When we stand in a prayer against a sinful lifestyle, we MUST do it humbly through intercessory knowing that our own sin is just as damning as theirs.
4. Godly convictions will not be found in a God-less world. Why the surprise when we see people outside the church giving into their own desires? We cannot righteously expect people to show godly character if they are living apart from God. When you're talking with them, be kind and show the same measure of grace we want Christ to show us.
1 Corinthians 13:10-12 talks about being in part, or incomplete. As we grow so does our understanding. When a child is young their reasoning is incomplete. As a child grows so does understanding. When they become a man, they stop thinking and acting like a child. They can look back on their childhood as a reflection to who they were. They reflect on their personal journey. It goes onto say even a matured man's growth on Earth is incomparable to the knowledge we will gain when we see God face-to-face in Heaven. It's humbling, isn't it?
1 Corinthians 13:10-12
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
We can take this physical chart of growth and understanding and compare it laterally to our spiritual growth and understanding. We can expect a new Christian's understanding (or an unsaved one's understanding of Christianity) to be incomplete/partial. They will understand a general thought like "Jesus loves me" but will not fully understand why Jesus had to die or why bad things still happen.
When we're interacting with new believers, we cannot expect them to follow the spiritual convictions as a matured Christian. Their faith and understanding requires growth.
5. God's word called his apostles to be as gentle as doves and wise as serpents. Why? If you're talking to someone lost in a sinful world, you can't immediately club them with every sinful act they've committed in a condemning fashion and expect them to follow you to Christ. We are called to be different, set apart, gentle.
We must also be wise as serpents not to fall into any sinful traps of our own on our journey. We must be suited up for the spiritual warfare that we will face. Our enemy is deceptive and manipulating. We must use discretion on what we do, and how we approach the situation. We must be spirit led.
Never be afraid to speak the truth. Let the Spirit lead your words and prompt you at the right time.
6. Intercessory prayer. In most cases people will find an identity in a sinful lifestyle. They find a level of comfort without convictions for the choices they make. When we act without the leading of the Spirit, our own actions can come across as a personal attack which could turn them further away from Christ. It's very important to understand the difference between our own ambitions and the leading of the Spirit.
Until the Holy Spirit provides the opportunity and the words to have that difficult and sensitive conversation we should pray for our friends and loved ones. Here's a prayer based on Romans 1:18-20.
Lord, I pray for my friend who is lost in a world they cannot see. I pray against any ungodliness and wickedness that is keeping them from seeing the truth of God. I pray against the lies and deception so your truth can be made plain to them. Let your divine power and nature will be shown to them. Let their hearts be softened and ears be receptive to the truth you would reveal to them in Jesus' name. Amen.
My friends I pray you will always reflect Christ's love and truth.
I'm praying for you.