Acceptance ≠ Accepting Sin

Romans 15:7-13, Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. As it is written, “Therefore, I will praise You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the people extol Him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even He who arises to rule the Gentiles; in Him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Paul advises us to accept one another as Christ does. This does not mean to accept the person’s sin, however. Jesus never accepted sin. To accept as Christ does is not to say, “I accept you and your homosexuality,” or, “I accept you and your adultery,” or, “I accept you and your compulsive lying”; for such acceptance is human acceptance, which fails and refuses to recognise sin. Human acceptance makes all things permissible, but not all things are permissible. Instead, what does Jesus do? He draws you near, forgives your sin, and says, “Go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus accepts us, but He does not accept the sin within us, for that is the essential thing He came to save us from. Likewise, we must accept one another without accepting the sin within a person, drawing them near so they may be drawn near to Christ who has the power to give them the strength to turn from their sin.

Jesus sees the toxicity of our souls, and yet He takes all of us in, for He took the sin of the world upon Himself. He doesn’t let the toxin remain; He cleanses us in our baptism. We are all toxic; therefore, Paul exhorts us to take each other in just as Christ takes us in so all may know Him. The purpose of the prophesied hope we Gentiles have in Jesus was not that our sin may be accepted in order that we continue living in it. Instead, the purpose of our prophesied hope in Jesus was so He may free us from our sin so we don’t have to keep living it it.

If Jesus accepted sin and therefore made it permissible to continue living in all types of sexual immorality, compulsive lying, gossiping, etc., then we would have no need for Him. He would just be another man—another great teacher to add alongside Buddha and Gandhi. But Jesus is not only a man; He is also God—Messiah, Redeemer, Prince of Peace, and so on. And so, Jesus frees us from these burdens and demands we turn and sin no more.

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