Without a doubt, tolerance is something that is pushed, preached, and proclaimed in our permissive society. Anyone or anything that seems to condemn sin is frowned upon as being intolerant, hateful, and cruel. Tragically, this push to tolerate sin, has greatly infiltrated the Lord’s church. Evidence of this is made visible by looking at many pulpits and elderships. Instead of reverberating God’s word, many pulpits do not thunder forth “thus saith the Lord” on every Bible subject. Instead of preaching Bible filled sermons that will “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2), some preachers do not preach about sin, error, or “controversial” things. Their preaching is purposefully designed to never oppose and never come near to possibly offending someone. In like manner, some elders have succumbed to this permissive thinking process. Instead, of feeding the flock (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2), some elderships are continually employing men who refuse to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). Instead of caring for the prodigals, many elders no longer make efforts to restore the erring (Galatians 6:1-2). Instead of complying with God’s perfect plan to keep the church pure, many elders do not lead the congregation in efforts to purge out the old leaven (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). Sadly, preachers and elders, who fit the above descriptions, have been engulfed in the sea of tolerating sin. Such tolerance in the church is a crisis. It is a danger and harm. It represents disobedience. It ignores God’s authoritative will. Such tolerance is sinful.
What can we do about this? How can we deal with this crisis? How can we overcome this problem of tolerating sin within the Lord’s church? There are three things that must be done in order to deal with this crisis.
First, Christians Must Realize That Satan Wants to Destroy the Church. In Philippians 3:18, Paul made mention of “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Sadly, such enemies still exist today. However, our primary enemy is Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9). He wants to destroy the church of Christ. He wants the world in the church. He does not want the church in the world. Therefore, he will do everything within his power to harm the body of Christ. He does this through sin. However, Satan cannot force sin into the body of Christ. Sin must be committed (James 1:12-16). When sin is committed, and when members of the church choose to linger in sin, they are doing exactly what Satan wants. And, when we choose to deny sin, tolerate sin, or never oppose sin, we are hurting the church because it will never go away, and the church will be weakened. The point is, that’s exactly what our enemy wants. He wants us to tolerate sin and become indifferent to it. He wants us to tolerate sin so that it will linger within the congregation and thus destroy it. We’ve got to realize that we have an enemy. Our enemy has an agenda. Getting God’s people to become tolerant of sin is imperative in Satan’s plot to destroy the church.
Second, Christians Must Adopt God’s View of Sin. Instead of tolerating sin, God’s people are called upon to hate that which is evil (Amos 5:15, Romans 12:9). God urges His people to eschew evil (1 Peter 3:10). Paul told Christians to abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Therefore, as these texts teach, we’ve got to learn to hate sin. We’ve got to learn to hate sin because God hates sin. In Psalm 119:104, the psalmist said that “through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” The writer was saying that God, through the word, taught him to hate sin. Indeed it does. The Bible teaches us to be intolerant of sin. It teaches what sin is, what sin does, and what sin has done. When we truly grasp what harm sin is doing to individuals, families, our country, and the church, we will become intolerant of sin. This knowledge comes from God’s word – considering God’s view of sin.
Third, Christians Must Have an Unshakable Faith in God's Plan. Out of love for souls, intolerance for sin, and a desire to please Jehovah, we must have an unshakable faith in God’s plan to keep the church pure. What is that plan? The Bible commands Christians to “purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6). Dear readers, the Bible is right. God is smarter than we are. His plan for church discipline is a perfect plan. It is a plan with which he expects us to fully comply. We need to stop listening to people who claim that church discipline “just won’t work.” These individuals want us to be tolerant, never opposing, and doing the very thing that Satan wants in order to cripple the church. Our Lord loved the church so much that He gave His life for her (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28). However, His own New Testament continually speaks of the need to practice church discipline (cf. Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, Romans 16, Titus 3, 2 John, 2 Thessalonians 3). How arrogant it is for men to think that their lofty ideals and modern ideas about toleration can possibly offer a better solution for sin in the church than God’s pattern. Readers, we’ve got to have faith in God’s plan to keep the church pure. We must believe in this plan and obediently practice this plan.
Our society has grown to be extremely permissive and tolerant of sin. Sadly, that has crept into the Lord’s church. Many elders, preachers, and Christians are now tolerating the very thing God hates and the thing that Satan is using to weaken the church. To combat this crisis, we’ve got to get back to hating sin, loving souls, and showing faith in God’s pattern for church discipline. May God help us to never tolerate sin, but always strive to keep tolerance of sin, out of the church of Christ.