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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Seeing sin is part of salvation

By Timothy J. Moynihan

One of the hardest things to do is to tell people they are wrong.

We all want to be liked. No one likes criticism. But the church is called to be salt and light in the world, preserving life and exposing works of darkness. People will never see their need for Christ until they see themselves as God sees them, as sinners separated from him and on the path of spiritual self-destruction. The challenge of the Christian life is to find, in Christ, the moral courage and love to confront sin in others.

Modern man attempts to eliminate sin out of the vocabulary. The sin of pride is turned into a virtue called self-esteem. Moral failure is a psychological or medical problem. There is social pressure to tolerate what was once called sin.

This modern thinking has created a culture of dependency, therapy and materialism that denies the power of God to set men free and hides our need for redemption.

Do you know that God does not want to judge anyone? Jesus came not to judge sinners but to save them. However, there will be a judgment of sin. Unrepentant sinners are condemned by their sin. The words of Christ will judge (John 12:48).

God's will is that we judge ourselves. Jesus confronted human sin so people see themselves as they really are, judge themselves and turn to him for salvation. This is where the Christian mission comes in. Man's heart is "deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can know it?"

Sin is self-deceiving. We have all done something that we thought we would never do, and are carried away by iniquity. To paraphrase Romans 10: How can a self-deceived generation discover the truth? Christians must stand for the truth.

We tell people to believe, but we forget Jesus said, "Repent and believe."

Repent means turn from the error of your ways and receive a new life, not symbolic, not a super-spiritual experience and not a change of opinion. It's a change of heart that leads to a change of lifestyle. Jesus gives us a new way of living.

Maybe you don't like criticism. Let me ask you, why do professional athletes need coaches? In professional sports the best teams have great players and great coaches. The coach is an observer-trainer who identifies weakness in others so he can bring corrective action. The coach is not the best player on the team, but he is the best critic. The best professional athletes listen to their coaches and accept correction. Many gifted athletes reject this principle and never achieve greatness.

The job of the preacher is to point out sin and provide corrective action so perishing sinners can enter into the greatness of eternal life.

Warn a sinner. Show them their need and show them the way. People hate preaching but they need it. We know "all who live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution." That's the cross. It's not easy but we can do it through Christ.

Timothy J. Moynihan is pastor of Potter's House Christian Fellowship Church in Honolulu.