Source: written by Edward E.Thomason Ė Preach today.com
Date _______ place: Church of Christ
Sermon Plan Theme: Our roots
Even good men can do wrong things
text: I Cor. 5, Gal. 2
1. To stand up for what you believe takes courage and involves risks
a. I know many loving and compassionate people who do not like confrontation - but they are willing to take the risk
of being called names... of being falsely accused of being intolerant, or being labeled as judgmental.
b. When you start talking religious differences, you always risk hurting someoneís feelings and you risk losing friends.
2. So who would want to do it? Who would dare have the nerve?
3. There are two stories about the apostle Paul that I want to share. (Paul was one of those rare individuals - who had the nerve/ who had the gall to suggest that even good
people can do wrong things.)
I. It is possible to be a good person and do morally wrong things.
A. I know that some in our generation never want to draw a line or make a judgment of any kind regarding
1. That certainly makes them feel that they have taken the higher ground.
2. But I wonder if never confronting others about sinful practices or even questionable practices is really the loving thing
to do? After all - souls are at stake.
3.And if I know that someone I care about is doing something wrong and I say nothing to try to guide them or help them in their spiritual journey - where is the
love in that?
B This attitude of never judging anything as wrong evidently prevailed in the church at Corinth in the first
century. (I Cor 5:1-5 read)
1. These brethren were "puffed up" (proud) of their tolerance of sin. (People
can actually pride themselves on their open minded tolerance of sin.)
2. Paulís response would never be tolerated in many churches today. (Many will tolerate anything except someone suggesting that something may be sinful.)
3. Paul said instead of being so tolerant... you ought to be in mourning.
4. He knew that sin tolerated has a leavening influence. (Itís contagious.) Others would be influenced to follow this same sinful
example because it is accepted and no one was willing to dare judge it as wrong.
5. Paul said, Iíve already judged him. (Shame on Paul for being judgmental)
C. I believe we should be careful where we draw the line of skirmish.
1. There are many things that are not worth going to battle over.
2. But if we have scruples and convictions... and if we have a conscience that is trained correctly - we will find it difficult to embrace and endorse something
that we understand from the scriptures to be wrong.
D. While there is a growing number of religious people who refuse to draw a line even in the area of morals.
(Endorsing homosexuality and adultery and even allowing such to fill their pulpits without any sense that this is not right) while that is true, many good
people in our generation will still draw the line when it comes to morally wrong things...
1. Many still teach against theft and lies and would not hesitate to go to someone who is in adultery and seek to
bring them back to the path of righteousness. They know the risks of being labeled as religious fanatics, odd balls, and even as nosey.... but they take the
risks because souls are at stake.
still has application to many (Read.)
-- Jude 22-23
2. And when we take a stand and preach/ teach/ encourage others to follow the strait and narrow way in the area of
morals - we still often stand on common ground with many of our religious neighbors and friends.
(And they donít think that we or they themselves are being intolerant or judgmental when we go to such a person and help them to realize as long as they
continue to live in sin... they are lost.)
3. Now the guilty person may be offended that his friends or his fellow Christians if that is the case will not embrace him
and fellowship him like they do others who are not living in fornication.
4. When you confront someone with the possibility that they may be doing things that are not approved by God, their defense mechanism kicks in automatically. It often makes them mad at you at first.... but if they are honest with themselves they may begin to think... and consider that they
may be wrong.
5. This is the one aspect of preaching that bothers me the most.
You have to confront people with the possibility that they may be doing something that displeases God before they will change.
And 9 times out of 10 when they are confronted, they become angry or hurt.
6. And still, most within the religious community of our day understand and practice what Paul taught here. They understand that you may risk hurt feelings and
risk being accused of intolerance and risk being accused of being judgmental - but most religious people that I know will still draw a line when it comes to
immorality. But there is a second point I want you to consider....
II. It is also possible for good people to do doctrinally wrong things.
A. On one occasion Paul even had the gall to rebuke Peter over what was a doctrinal issue of all things. Can you
imagine? Gal 2:11-13 read...
1. Yes, even good men like Peter and Barnabas can sometimes do wrong things.
2. But when good men do and say and teach wrong things... how can other good men stand by and never say a word?
But if the truth be told, often good men do stand by and never speak up.
Our generation has the idea that silence and tolerance is a virtue.
B. But good people can be misguided. Good people can be mistaken. Good people can make wrong choices. Good people
can be guilty of sin and good people may not even realize they are doing things that displease God.
1. Such was the case with Peter... and then later with Barnabas who because of the leavening influence of Peter was
caught up in the hypocrisy of that situation.
2. In verse 14, Paul says that he spoke up when they "walked not uprightly according to the truth."
a. Not everyone who sincerely follows Christ lives their lives in accordance with the truth of Godís word.
Compromise is common.
b. Peter and Barnabas did not on that occasion.
C. So what was the big deal? So Peter didnít want to be seen eating with Gentile Christians... so what? Why make
an issue of it? Certainly on a scale of 1-10 this would fall into the lowest category in comparison to other things that they might have done. (Surely he was
straining at gnats! This seems petty - right? )
1. After all, it wasnít as if they were committing some moral breach of conduct.
2. Peter wasnít guilty of fornication or theft or some moral sin.
3. This was only a doctrinal issue... so whatís the big deal?
a. We learn from Paul that Peterís was not willing to stand up and buck those who wanted Christians to live by the
old law of Moses which included the law that Jews were not eat with Gentiles.
b. Maybe it is easier and certainly more peaceful for us if we never make any waves... (Just sit on your convictions rather than stand on them.)
4. In Peterís situation he had failed to stand up for the doctrinal position that under the law or faith of Christ
we are no longer under the law of Moses.
a. Those who would go back under the old law and bind itís doctrines were "frustrating the grace of
God." (Vs 21 read)
b. In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul became more brazen than that!
Galatians, as you may know, is dedicated to helping the reader to understand that while the Old law was a
schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, we are no longer under the schoolmaster. That if one is compelled to keep the law of
circumcision in order to be pleasing to God, he is debtor to keep the whole law. But then in Gal. 5:4 he boldly said,
"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law (law of Moses); ye are fallen from grace."
c. Some may not appreciate that stand by Paul. We might acknowledge that a person can fall from grace if they commit
some moral breach and refuse to repent, but fall from because of a doctrinal issue? No wonder Paul was always in the middle of a controversy wherever he went.
d. When we go back under the law of Moses and that covenant to justify our religious activities, Paul by inspiration said, we are debtor to keep all the law and
more importantly, he says we are "fallen from grace."
5. Try sharing that strong statement with someone who burns incense in worship because they did so in the days of
Moses. Try sharing that strong statement with someone who teaches that we must "tithe" which is an old Testament practice not found in the new...
a. If you ask, why do you tithe, the answer is that its a biblical practice.
b, If you dare pursue this, and ask where in the bible is this practice found... the only passages that can be cited are those that are a part of "the law
c. When you then try to explain that we should "rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) and not seek to justify our actions on the bases of the old
law. - the response is: What difference does that make.
d. Then when you show them Gal 5, their feelings are hurt... Your saying I am lost. "fallen from grace."
e. No, I havenít said that, you just read it in the Bible and came to that conclusion yourself.
6. That is painful confrontation. It wasnít easy for Paul... it is not easy for us today. We must each
"work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."
1. I think we can see that it is not only possible for a good people to do something morally wrong, but it is
possible to do something doctrinally wrong also.
2. And while many good religious people will not tolerate a breach in morals.... -- they often tolerate a breach in doctrine
and cannot understand for the life of them why for us its such a big deal.
3. It is important that we try to explain why. For us Godís positive law (or doctrinal instructions) are as important as
Godís negative law (moral instructions.) Both are equally important and both should be respected.
a. For some people, the doctrinal teaching of a church doesnít matter.
b. I met a lady once who was looking for a church. She understood that baptism was an immersion but she was attending and supporting a church that sprinkled.
c. The doctrine was not important to her. It didnít bother her conscience, she wasnít the least bit uncomfortable. And she couldnít understand why that
would bother me. Why I could not in good conscience attend and support a church where that doctrine was being practiced.-- How intolerant of me. How judgmental.
d. But if I am understanding Paul correctly, doctrine does matter.
4. It is also possible for good people to sit on their hands and do nothing and say nothing out of fear that
confrontation will anger or hurt our friends. (I understand that... but love for souls will insist that we take the risk ... as painful as it is.)
5. And our neighbors may not understand why we are not comfortable supporting them when they practice such things as sprinkling or burning incense, or using
women preachers or refuse to baptize for the remission of sins... but these doctrinal issues are just as important as moral issues.
6. We love and appreciate all good people everywhere regardless of their religious affiliation - and we do not question the love that others have for God nor their sincerity as they seek to worship God in accordance with their understanding of
the scripture... But we are just not comfortable supporting what we in our conscience understand to be inconsistent with the
teaching of Godís word. Like Paul we must stand up against even Peter himself if necessary and uphold the truth.
7. Yes, its hard and yes it makes us sometimes feel like the odd man out. But we must be true to our conscience and our
convictions. Both Morality and doctrine are important.