My Sin Is My Fault
1 Corinthians 5 deals with the case of a Christian man who was carrying on a sexual affair with his own father’s wife. The situation had gone on for some time, while the rest of the saints at Corinth had done nothing. His unrepentant condition now cried out for action by the church.
I’m curious how this man got to such a point. What factors influenced his decision to engage in sexual immorality — and to continue in it, unrepentant? Is it possible that the troubles in the Corinthian church might have contributed to his sinful choice? Did some of his fellow Christians set a poor example of sexual immorality (see 6:15f)? Did their bickering and strife (1:11; 3:3) make him to want to rebel? Did their confusion about marriage (chapter 7) make him confused enough to become mired in fornication?
I don’t know. But I do know this: As many problems as there were at Corinth, Paul pointed to none of them as an excuse for this man’s behavior. As great a discouragement as the Corinthians may have been to their brother, he was the one responsible for his sin. When the church took action to discipline him as God instructed (verses 4-5), he would gain nothing by complaining that their poor examples had driven him to it.
I believe that is relevant to us. Often, Christians who are trying to restore an unfaithful brother get hit with a volley of accusations and criticisms. Brother Smith said something that discouraged me, and that’s why I’m acting this way. Sister Jones has a skeleton or two in her closet, so why are they picking on me? The rebellious brother, sometimes aided by family or friends, paints himself as a victim. If the church would just try to understand his situation, he says, they wouldn’t be so unfair to him. It’s not his fault.
Now, I know that Christians sometimes set terrible examples. One disciple may say things that deeply wound another. One disciple may do things that completely destroy his influence with another. It is tragic and sinful when that happens (Matthew 18:6,7). But even if I have been hurt and disappointed by others, it doesn’t lessen my personal responsibility to the Lord one bit. It doesn’t make my choice to sin any less sinful. It doesn’t give my brethren any less responsibility to correct me. It doesn’t give them any less right to expect me to repent.
We need to grow up and face the fact that God holds us accountable for our own actions (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The sooner we do that, the sooner we can all help one another grow to maturity in Christ.