The Essential Need For Clarity
January 14, 2019
John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”
The non-believing world lives under this massive deception that they are truly free when the reality is, they are chained to sin. Far too often, in fact nauseatingly so, the church goes right along with this false narrative. Just this morning I viewed a clip from the HBO series Vice in which Matt Chandler the pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, and one of the up and comers in the evangelical world does this very thing. The topic of the report was the future of evangelicalism in America and they interviewed Chandler last summer at the SBC convention and then at his church. Chandler seems to go out of his way to muddy the waters in regard to the nature of sin. Now, I don’t dislike Matt Chandler, I don’t always agree with him but for the most part he seems to be a solid expositor of the word. But, like so many celebrity pastors it seems at times that he works too hard to be liked.
In the five-minute clip that I watched he mentions the sin, or “issue” as he calls it, of homosexuality that is important to young people. He said, “We are quick to label it as a sin. I don’t disagree with that. I think that from Scripture it is a sin. But to act like these aren’t human beings with souls who sometimes are deeply conflicted it’s just a great error.”
Matt is committing an error that is all too familiar. The error is to think that the issue of sin and how we address sin in the church is more a matter or style than substance. In other words what Matt is saying is, “if we will just be nicer when we address sin then people will listen to us.” “We are quick to label it as a sin” because it is a sin, just like stealing, lying, and adultery are labeled as sins because they are sins. These “souls who sometimes are deeply conflicted” are “deeply conflicted” because they like their sin. Matt is making the mistake of thinking that if we will just be “nicer,” which is very subjective, then non-believers will listen.
Now, I don’t doubt Matt’s sincerity, but the reality is that people are never going to really like us if we are clear about the nature of sin. In this moment in our culture we need to be as clear as possible about sin, not less clear. What happens is, and Chandler did this, is we try and pass off the very real issue of the sinfulness of people as more of a style issue. This is revealed when he says that we don’t understand that sinners have souls. I don’t know of any legitimate pastor who doesn’t understand that people who are caught up in any kind of sin have a soul. The fact of the matter is, no matter how nice and friendly we are, people are still going to love their sin and reject and hate the truth. Jesus understood this, in fact Jesus was always very clear about sin. John 3:19 Jesus said, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”
When the Matt Chandlers of the world do this, they sow confusion when clarity is what is desperately needed. In John 8:34 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” “Truly, truly,” always introduces a subject of great importance. What Christ is saying is that “sin,” not individual sins, but the innate fallenness and wickedness of man is bondage for the non-believer. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
To be a “slave” is to be under the complete and total control of someone of something. Sin, like a cruel slave master, controls every part of the non-believer’s life, whether they realize it or not. Titus 3:3 says that non-believers are “enslaved to various lusts and pleasures.”
The only way for sinners to be free from this bondage is for them to be united by faith in Jesus Christ. Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection provides deliverance from both the penalty and power of sin. The sinner, the non-believer will become free from sin and servants of God and righteousness. When we water down the seriousness of sin, any sin, we compromise the freedom giving message of the good news.