Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Friends, please read Ezekiel 3:16-27 and Acts 20:26-27 because the texts prove that God Almighty has always demanded that His servants be faithful (trustworthy, reliable) in the proclamation of His (I Thess. 2:13) inspired, infallible, inerrant, and authoritative word! The responsibility of declaring the message of truth is exceedingly grave! The truth must always be preached in a spirit of meekness, love, and consideration, without fear, favor, or compromise. The salvation of a soul is too blessed and the damnation of a soul is too terrifying for the professed soldiers of Christ to encourage contests of " Religious Russian Roulette" with the minds of honest, truth-seeking folks. We must ever be ready to "preach the word! Be ready in season, out of season 9' (2 Tim. 4:2; NKJV).
Accepted sins are wicked, iniquitous, and ungodly deeds which are received favorably by many. Sin ought not to be accepted by anyone, at anytime, or on any occasion! Sin separates us from our God (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3:4). And sin has wages, which is death (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1: 14, 15). All sin is detestable before God, for sin is unrighteousness (1 Jn. 5:17).
Many pulpits do not send forth a resounding denunciation of all sin in clear, forthright terms, but are becoming hotbeds of error, tolerance, and are giving false comfort to sinners! For fear of hurting some weak members' feelings, becoming unpopular, being fired, losing support, being expelled from the local Ministerial Alliance or Civitan club, some evangelists are not preaching God's truth in the way that God's word demands! Too many churches are being fed a diet of fifteen minute sermonettes, shallow philosophical nonsense, "they-say, I-say, We-say," and unfounded opinion instead of a simple "thus saith the Lord." We are commanded in Scripture to "speak as the oracles of God" (I Pet. 4:11) and "not to go beyond the things which are written" (I Cor. 4:6). But, as the Lord's apostle, Paul predicted, "the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables, But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:3-4). The word must be preached. We must not favorably receive any sin! Sin must not be fellowshipped, but reproved (Eph. 5:11)!
There are churches which will not allow sin - all sin to be denounced in explicit language and with equal force. There is a dead cat on the line somewhere! God through the prophet Ezekiel says, "Yet the children of your people say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' But it is their way which is not fair!. . . Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, I will judge everyone of you according to his own ways" (Ezek. 33:17-20). From this text it is apparent that God wants justice, dealing equally with all!
Now, let us carefully contemplate some of the "accepted sins" which I shall enumerate for our consideration.
For some strange, inexcusable reason, members of the Lord's church have in many instances convinced themselves that denominationalism is not sinful! If denominationalism, is not sinful, nothing is! Some preachers act as if they believe that it is beneath the dignity of a preacher of the gospel to take his Bible and indict human creeds, names, worship, organizations, and churches. Denominationalism is a system of division, and the Bible condemns unauthorized division (Tit. 3:9-10; Rom. 16:17). When we receive denominationalism instead of preaching against it, we are preparing the way for a generation of young people in the church who will not have a proper scriptural view of the undenominational nature of the church in the New Testament. They will speak the language of Ashdod; examples of which are calling the preacher the "pastor," denying the essentiality of baptism in order to salvation, believing that instrumental music in worship is acceptable, referring to Sunday (the first day of the week) as the "Christian Sabbath," speaking of one "joining" the church instead of being added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
Brethren, it is the responsibility of the present generation to commit the truth "to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Let us get about the task of warning God's people against all forms of sectarianism, both in and out of the church! Denominationalism is damnable. There is nothing good about it! The members thereof, according to the teaching of the Bible, will lose their souls if they fail to repent, leave it, and obey the gospel of the Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rom. 1:16)! Another "accepted" sin in some churches is:
Most individuals agree that drunkenness is sinful, thus condemned by the Bible, and should not be engaged in (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 10; Gal. 5:2 1). But, some insist on arguing, "The Bible does not say that I sin just by taking one drink of liquor for social purposes, or by drinking one beer. The sin is in getting drunk, not in the limited consumption of alcohol."
The person who defends social drinking on the basis that the Bible condemns drunkenness fails to recognize the fact that there are degrees of drunkenness. A person does not have to be "stone drunk" or "dog drunk" in order to violate biblical teaching! In the New Testament several Greek words are translated drunk, drunken, drunkenness. W.E. Vine observes regarding methusko, "signifies to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb), marking the process or state expressed in no. 1, to become intoxicated, Lk. 12:45; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7a." E.W. Bullinger says methusko means, "to grow drunk (marking the beginning of methuo). "These definitions prove that there are degrees of drunkenness. One is as drunk as the amount he drinks!
Consider with me the following scriptural principles which are violated by social drinkers: (1) One who consumes alcoholic beverages is not wise (Prov. 20:1). (2) One who is a social drinker cannot be an influence for good among believers or sinners (1 Thess. 5:21; Matt. 5:13-16). (3) The social drinker, being consistent cannot scripturally convince the "outright" drunkard that he must cease his drunkenness while he (the social drinker) holds on to his dtsipping'4" (4) The social drinker is intentionally., and knowingly destroying his mind and body which is to be preserved, not destroyed (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Rom. 12:1-2). (5) One who drinks socially cannot abstain from fleshly lusts which which against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11). Another very prevalent sin which is "accepted" by a multitude of brethren is:
Racial prejudice is a world-wide sin, universal in scope! It is sinful because: (1) It excites favoritism and partiality. Such is expressly condemned by the Bible (Jas. 2:14, 9). James states, "If ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." The text simply states, to have respect of persons is sin! Racial prejudice is very definitely conducive to respect of persons (lit. "faces"). Often times, a racial bigot will refuse to extend a handshake, a smile, and word, hospitality, or even a gospel sermon to one of a race other than his own! James says those who act in such a way are transgressors! (2) Racial prejudice fails to observe the divine injunction to love one's neighbor unselfishly. This is the meaning of the Greek word agape in Rom. 13:9-10; 1 Jn. 4:20-21. In these texts John asks a most important question: "For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" The fact is, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 Jn. 3:15). One who truly loves his neighbor in the scriptural sense seeks his well-being, good, and spiritual benefit. This, the bigot does not do, for he considers whites to be oppressors who deserve to be hung by the neck, blacks to be dogs without souls, Jews to be filth who need killing, and Orientals to be nonhuman creatures who deserve ridicule!
The racial bigot fails to realize that all of us "are the offspring of God" (Acts 17:25-29). The bigot implies that some of us are the offspring of monkeys and other brute beasts! But, the Bible says, "God hath made of one blood all nations of men. . ."
There cannot scripturally be segregation among Christians solely on the basis of race! The Lord built one church for all (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4). Christ did not die for two churches, but for one (Acts 20:28)! The Bible plainly says that God "reconciles both (Jew and Gentile) in one body" (Eph. 2:16). Any man who loves the truth has the prerogative of worshiping with God's people, Christians, regardless of racial heritage!
The apostle Paul did not tolerate racial prejudice in the life of the apostle Peter. Paul knew that bigotry is sin, and he informed Peter of the same. The record says in Galatians 2:11-14, "When Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he stood condemned, For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, if thou being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"
Why is it that some preachers, writers, and editors are bold proclaimers against such. sins as homosexuality, drunkenness, gambling, and immorality in the form of adultery, etc., but neglect strong, deliberate preaching, teaching, and writing on racial prejudice? It is as rare as a "pink bow-legged" jack rabbit to hear our prestigious, well-thought of men speak against the actions of publicly known, impenitent, hell-bound bigots! Now many churches have you known to withdraw from bigots who failed to repent? -Do you know of churches who use such men around the "Lord's Table," in the pulpit, and as song leaders? Does it not seem that some among us are careful, yea very selective in choosing what they will oppose, where they will speak, and whom they will condemn with the book of God? I wonder why? Elders and preachers ought to address themselves to this issue. We need to repent and ask God's forgiveness or else we will lose our souls! Another accepted sin in many places is:
The Bible admonishes and exhorts us, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." In view of this text we learn that the various assemblies (i.e. our assembling) are important and are not to be taken for granted! The assembling together for purposes of worship and exhortation are for the benefit and growth of each saint, and this must not be forgotten! Many churches have severe problems with members wilfully, deliberately, and consistently absenting themselves from Sunday night and Wednesday night sessions of study, but the churches do not seem to be alarmed; in other words they have accepted this sin without rebuke! They are doing what no respectful housewife would do, viz. allow a husband to loaf six nights a week and come home only once without apology. Someone would be required to give account! But, we will tolerate those who wilfully absent themselves from our assembling, and allow them to return as if nothing ever happened and participate in the public performances of the local church.
One of the areas in which a local church may engage is edification (Eph. 4:12, 15; Acts 20:32). This is the act of building up the body by educating members in the word of truth. One of the arrangements in which this is done is the class situation. An arrangement which elders, who are the overseers, pastors, presbyters, or bishops, may select as one expedient method to perfect the saints. We are, in such a circumstance to respect the wisdom, judgment, and leadership of the elders because they watch in behalf of our souls (Heb. 13:17). To rebel against their authority in matters involving the growth, well-being, and unity of the local church is sin! Classes are not begun without purpose, they are a means of accomplishing an end, i.e. the perfection of the local congregation! You and I are obligated to be present!
Other sins could be enumerated which are "accepted" among brethren, but the ones specified are sufficient to prove that we yet have a lot of work to do. Let us preach against all sin with equal force!
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 16, pp. 496-498