A common problem that always seems to surround sin and sinners is the need for people to come to their defense. We see this clearly in the controversy surrounding President Clinton and we see it in churches and homes. Often times, people will soften the blows of truth to comfort those they deem afflicted. Too often, people will condemn the righteous while comforting the sinner. Many times, excuses are made for sin and error. Is this God’s wisdom or is it man’s? Is this what the Bible teaches we should do or do we have things backwards? What does the Bible have to say regarding the defense of sin and error?
When one is steeped in sin and error, the last thing they want is someone to expose their error, even though it is what they need (Ephesians 5:11-12). In John 3:20-21, it is written, “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Clearly, when a person has sin in their life, their eternal soul is in jeopardy. We know sin separates man from his God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Therefore out of love, both for God and man, friends and loved ones must seek to expose those who are in error and save them from hell. In Galatians 6:1, the Bible says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted” (see also James 5:19-20; Jude 22-23). These are the commands of God. Yet, this becomes extremely difficult when men come to the defense of sin and error.
Softening The Blows of Truth
Under the guise of love, defenders will seek to soften the chastisement of men who are speaking the truth in love. They themselves neglect to affirm the truth. Rather than admonish those in error, they comfort them. Rather than save them from eternal destruction, they let them fall headlong into it. This is tragic!
What defenders of error and sin fail to realize is that when a man speaks the words of God, it is the chastisement of God they reveal. In Revelation 3:19, the Bible says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (read also Hebrews 12:5-11). This is what the word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, has the power to do (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16).
Yet, men dull the blades of truth by softening the blows of God. Defenders of sin and error use words like humbled, broken, crushed, distressed, and contrite to describe the sinner and pull emotion and pity from the hearts of those who must expose their error. Sometimes, such words are fitting and true and manifest themselves in godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). However, more often than not the sinner—when confronted and exposed—becomes angry, upset, puffed-up, prideful and defiant. These are not the fruits of humility. These are the fruits of a man lost in sin. These are the signs of a man who does not need watered down medication to cure the woes of his soul, but strong doses of truth to humble and heal him (James 4:4-10; 1 Peter 5:6-9).
Condemning The Righteous
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. 17:15)
Another problem with those who defend sin and error is that they condemn those who are standing for truth and righteousness. Those who justify wickedness attribute names and motives to those who seek to uphold the word of God (1 Kings 18:17-18). They are called mean-spirited, evil, unloving, and unkind. They are likened unto bulldogs, vultures and carnivores. They are accused of attacking innocent people, making a big deal out of nothing, hitting men when they are down, and focusing on trifles and small vices of others. All of this, whether intended or not, clouds the waters of righteousness and diverts attention from those in sin. Why can’t men understand how God feels about such evasive and unrighteous maneuvering?The wise man wrote in Proverbs 17:15, “He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even both are abomination to the Lord.” Again, in Proverbs 28:4, the Bible says, “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.” The apostle Paul asked of the Galatians in Galatians 4:16, “Therefore, have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
This attitude needs to be likened unto one who despises a doctor for saving their life. Or a child who says ‘I hate you’ when they do not get their way. In a very physical sense, would I be despised of you for breaking your arm by pulling you out of the way of an oncoming car? It is the same thing as condemning the righteous.
Never Make Excuses
Sin and error do not need excuses, they need exposure. They do not need defense, they need truth. There is no excuse that will make sin and error right in the sight of God. For that matter, there will be no excuses or defenders in the judgment—only the Lord, yourself and the life you have lived. There will be no loopholes, gray area or confusion—only a righteous and just examination of your life and a speedy judgment.
When we make excuses for sin and error, we do a grave disservice to the guilty. The Bible says, “Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal wrongfully, and will not behold the majesty of Jehovah” (Isaiah 26:10). Again, in Jeremiah 23:14, the Bible says, “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.” Excusing sin now prolongs justice until the end, when it is too late.
It would be unfair to say that there are not cases of people suffering “unrighteous judgment.” It happens often. There are many false accusers who will give account of themselves before God. But, the apostle Peter gives the righteous man the correct attitude to bear in such cases (read 1 Peter 2:19-20).
Overall, in Ecclesiastes 8:11, the Bible summarizes the danger of defending sin and error in one statement: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Next time we decide to take up the fight for those who commit sin and teach error, let us think hard on these words.