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. The man’s 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 in the church at Corinth, Paul pointed to none of them as an excuse for this man’s behavior. Regardless of the degree to which the Corinthians may have been a discouragement 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 unfaithful. Sister Jones has a skeleton or two in her closet, so why are they picking on me? The straying 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 there are some instances in which Christians set terrible examples. One disciple may say things that deeply wound another. One disciple may do things that destroy his influence with another. It is tragic and sinful when that happens (see 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 brothers and sisters 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 actions (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Whatever factors my influence me, ultimately my sin is my fault. The sooner we each come to grips with that, the sooner we can all help one another grow to maturity in Christ.