For some reason, it appears as though many Christians do not believe they can speak out against sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors they see manifest in other Christian’s lives. Well, I believe this is a dangerous position to take.
You see, desensitization to the Word of God is a dangerous thing. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines desensitization in this way: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically to extinguish an emotional response to stimuli that formerly induced it. (Such as fear, anxiety, or guilt)
Now in the context of a brother or sister in Christ sinning, it is the emotional response of guilt that makes them aware of their offenses and transgressions against God and/or their neighbor. Without guilt, a person has no ability to experience remorse, regret, or sorrow over what they have done.
Now we know that man is not perfect. Man will always make mistakes. Man will always fall short of God’s moral standards, so it is critical then, that man remains conscious of his shortcomings. It is critical that man has a heart, a mind and a will to correct those shortcomings and minimize their occurrences in his life. Desensitization to guilt prevents this from happening.
Scripture mandates every Christian to confront one another through a process of confrontation called Nouthesia. It is a Greek noun. It is defined in the lexical dictionary as “an admonition, a warning, or an exhortation. Any word of encouragement or reproof which leads to correct behavior.”
Now the Bible is our utility tool, our manual, our guide for providing Nouthetic guidance because it is God’s Word of moral instruction to us as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives in the body of Christ.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God has given us a moral compass to use in our daily interactions with each other. The Holy Bible. Therefore, by it, we can have accountability to one another so that we can be a “facilitory agent” in each other’s lives for spiritual growth and maturation. Our responsibility to ourselves and to others is to live by God’s moral compass.
However, many born-again believers are failing and even running away from fulfilling this responsibility. Instead of spiritual growth and maturation, there is spiritual retardation and adolescence as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives, because of the failure to execute nouthetic confrontation in the lives of those who demonstrate wayward actions. They are not held accountable to the Word of God. No one warns or admonishes them by the Word of God and consequently, they remain outside the will of God; living defeated lives with an immature faith.
Let me take a moment and show you how accountability will facilitate obedience.
If I find myself doing something that is not in accord with God’s standard, then you would be correct in saying that I am off center or missing the mark. Now the longer I remain there, the more rooted I will become there and the more distant I will remain from God’s moral expectation of my life.
If no one confronts me for being off the mark or holds me accountable for my wayward conduct, then I will continue to be disobedient to God’s morality and will remain off center. Something has to motivate me to move back in line. Something has to awaken my sense of guilt for being off the mark. That something is nouthetic confrontation from another brother or sister in Christ.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.
The lexical definition of “sharpens” in this text of scripture means to make something stronger or to improve. Therefore, to state this proverb using this definition would sound like this: “As iron strengthens and improves iron, so one man strengthens and improves another.” This is through the process of Nouthetic confrontation.
Knowing this, tell me why so many born-again believers in Jesus Christ are not confronting one another? What is the reason for tolerating ungodliness in another Christian’s life? Well, I believe it has to do with one of two things: either apathy or fear.
If you find that you fall into the category of apathy, then I say this to you-you are sinning against the second command given by Jesus, which states we are to “love your neighbor as yourself”.
This love is agape love. The love that esteems others, cherishes others, favors others, honors others, respects others, accepts others, prizes others, relishes others, is devoted to others, is loyal to others, and is concerned for others. If you are apathetic toward your neighbor how can love them in this way?
If you find that you fall into the category of the fearful who are afraid of man’s possible repercussions from confrontation, which might involve verbal accosting, ostracism or even physical assault, then I say this to you-you are not trusting God for the veracity and wisdom of his word. You are not trusting God for the truth of his instruction. You do not have the conviction of:
Psalm 56:3, which states, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
Psalm 56:4 which states, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”
Psalm 118:8, which states, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”
You see, to confront is to love openly. Not to confront is to be unloving.
Proverbs 27:5 tells us “better is open rebuke than hidden love.”
Therefore, it is time you started practicing your faith and demonstrating Christian love one to another from the perspective of obedience to the mandate in Scripture of nouthetically confronting your neighbor when you see sin abound in their lives.
Let me give you one last illustration of the how the Lord expects us to love one another through nouthetic confrontation.
In the world when someone commits a crime, it is because they have done something outside the boundaries of the law. They become wanted criminals and walk around ever mindful the police are looking for them.
One day they are spotted by the police and stopped. The officer has grounds to search them and does so by “frisking” them down to see if there are any illegal items they might be carrying on their person. If the officer finds something, he takes it away – he confiscates it. It is no longer in the possession of the person.
Well in the kingdom of God, we are mandated to do to each other what the police officer did to the criminal suspect. We have been given legal grounds to “frisk” one another down. We have been given legal grounds to use the Word of God to search for any ungodliness in the lives of one another when they have committed sin. When we see the ungodliness, we are to be a facilitory agent in the confiscation of it.
By that, I mean we are to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness through the use of God’s instructions as mandated in the Bible; to bring to light the ungodly contraband our brother or sister may be carrying in their lives. We are to use the authority of the Word of God when we “frisk”. Only using the truth of the Word of God will bring conviction, and only conviction will birth the awareness of guilt that will be the catalyst for change.
If we all can become proficient in utilizing the process of Nouthetic guidance one to another, we would see great strides made in the lives of every born-again believer as it pertains to their spiritual growth and maturation in the body of Christ.