Trip Sin before Sin Trips You
Text: Luke 17:1-10 | Listen to Message
Helping Others with Their Sin
In stark contrast to the religious culture of his day, Jesus envisioned a culture in which everyone made it easier on everyone else not to sin – and easier to find true forgiveness when they did.
This isn’t wishful thinking or pie-in-the-sky theology. Jesus wasn’t saying sin wouldn’t happen. He said it would – but that we could help one another before, during, and after it happens. He said we could work together doing these four things to break the power of sin over us.
1. You break sin’s power by resisting it at the level of temptation.
Many people do not actively, intentionally try to entice others to sin. They don’t purposely trick, trap, or bait people into breaking God’s law. But yet they still cause others to stumble? How?
- By setting a bad example that others follow
- By boasting and flaunting
- By criticizing and complaining
- By gossiping and unfairly influencing
- By arguing and dividing
- By picking, poking, prodding, and pestering
More often than not, we provoke others through our influence. Rather than using our influence to stimulate godliness and grace, we often act as stumbling blocks, inciting others to sin.
2. You break sin’s power by calling it what it is.
When we’re sinned against, we tend to either blow it off or blowing up. We either minimize the sin or we personalize it and get really angry. Jesus calls for a different response altogether: rebuke the person who sinned against you. The word he uses could be literally translated “put a value on it.” In other words, call it what it is. Don’t blow it way out of proportion, but don’t be afraid to call sin “sin,” either.
This is hard because no one likes to be called out and rebuked or confronted over sin. But here are some things you can do to make your rebuke more likely to be heard:
- Be humble, not proud.
- Be gentle, not judgmental.
- Be courageous, not timid.
- Be loving, not harsh.
- Be prayerful, not impulsive.
- Address sins, not preferences or opinions.
- Address patterns, not isolated or irregular instances.
- Don’t pretend to know what you can’t know (motives, secret thoughts).
3. You break sin’s power by repenting.
Since we tend to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, it’s natural to think that we’re genuinely repentant and our opponents are not. But here are 5 simple steps you can use to test the genuineness of your own repentance (adapted from The Peacemaker Series):
- Admit you did wrong.
- Acknowledge how your sin affected others.
- Accept the consequences.
- Ask for forgiveness.
- Alter your direction.
Oftentimes, we’re not sorry for our sin – we’re just sorry we got caught. So we use “repentance” as a form of damage control. We admit as little as possible to try to evade the consequences of our sin, then we work harder the next time at not getting caught in the first place. This is not real repentance.
Real repentance sounds more like this: “Friend, I lied about you, and I know my lies have seriously hurt you. I’ve damaged your friendships, your reputation, and your credibility, all because I wanted to justify myself and to try to make myself look better than I really am. I was wrong. I’m sorry and I ask you to forgive me. If anyone’s reputation and credibility and friendships should be damaged, it’s mine – and I’m willing to accept that.”
Sound humbling? Of course it does! And the more you practice this kind of repentance with real people and real situations in your life, the faster sin loses its attraction and its grip on you.
4. You break sin’s power by forgiving.
If you’ve even been really hurt, you know how hard it is to forgive. They should have to pay for what they did. You may even think that forgiveness lets that other person off easy.
But when we don’t forgive, we’re giving another person’s sin power to control us – our thoughts, our emotions, our health, our soul. Only by choosing the hard path of forgiveness can we break the power of that sin over us. Only through forgiveness can we give what we have first received from Jesus Christ: grace.
Can you imagine what it would be like to belong to a community of believers who actually lived this way? It sounds extraordinary, but Jesus says here this is just the way Christians live toward one another. If you want to trip sin before sin trips you, do this: treat your own sin with ferocity and others’ sin with grace. Can you imagine being a part of a culture that chose to live that way?