“Oh, I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone in these struggles with sin I’m having!”
This is a common sentiment in Christian circles. Have you heard it before? Have you said something like it before?
As I’ve been reading the many homeschooling group posts that cross my computer screen, I’ve read expressions like this many times. Someone vents about the bad day they’re having and how upset they are with their children, and the responses grow long with others comments of the same thing happening at their house.
“Oh, I know what you mean! I’m so glad I’m not alone!”
I’ve been thinking about why someone would want to say that.
Here’s another way to express the same sentiment, “I’m so glad you’re struggling with your sin and bad fruit, because your struggles make me feel better about my struggles.”
Here’s another way to put it, “I’m so glad you’re struggling with your sin and bad fruit, because I can use your struggles to make me feel better about my struggles with my sin and bad fruit and to make me feel better about ME.”
When I fully consider what is being said, I can’t help but see how selfish and unloving it is! I’ve often heard people even fishing for such a response, actually manipulating others to come and fellowship in the flesh, “Am I alone? Is anyone else struggling like this?”
This can be translated, “Is anyone else sinning and suffering the effects of their bad fruit like I am? Because I don’t want to be alone. Will anyone comfort me about my sin by telling me they’re sinning too?”
Then it becomes even more strange that Christians often offer themselves up to this selfish and unloving relational behavior by saying, “I have those struggles with sin too, you’re not alone,” followed by some expression of affection together in their sin like hugs, or “I’m praying for you.” The overall affect of this fellowship of sin is to minimize our need for repentance because we have a place to belong together. We have fellowship together in our sin and bad relational fruit. When we think this way, we end up using each other to comfort ourselves in our sin.
I realize that we all have a genuine need to be understood and to have a place to belong. God created us to have deep relationships where we are deeply known and understood by others. Compassion and understanding are a part of grace and a loving behavior, but fellowshipping in each other’s flesh and sin is neither helpful nor compassionate and loving.
Compassion is ALWAYS full of love. Jesus’ compassion never led him to excuse or make light of sin and broken relationships. It led Him to sacrifice His own life to rescue us from it all.
2 Peter 1:4 says that we’re supposed to flee corrupt relating and partake of the Divine nature — take on His loving nature.
“By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) …., and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.”
We’re supposed to be fellowshipping with Jesus and His walk to the cross of death to self-life. Matt 16:24 says that we’re to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow Him.
“If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].”
Our identification and fellowship and place of belonging is supposed to be WITH HIM.
To seek to bless and comfort ourselves in our fleshly sin and the resulting bad fruit in our lives (broken relationships, bad attitudes, resistance and ill will) so that we can have fellowship for ourselves and comfort through excuses is both unloving to those we are doing it with and a rejection of what Jesus is calling us to do. It has nothing to do with compassion, grace and love.
How much better to say, as many who are embracing the Lifestyle of Learning™ message say, “I can relate to you because I was a sinner too. I repented, and I’ve cooperated with the Lord and He has changed my life! Won’t you come to Jesus and repent too?”
It is the fleshly desire to fellowship in sin that leads people to embrace the doctrinal error that you can never really stop sinning, you’re just supposed to keep trying, while using Romans 7 to support their ideas. Paul in Romans 7 was explaining what his life was like when he was walking in his flesh. He goes on to say in Romans 8 how God rescued Him from that life of flesh by making available a walk of love and a clean conscience by obeying the Holy Spirit in freedom from the grip of sin to live the overcoming life—a life that is free from the condemnation that automatically follows a life of self-serving and unloving relational behaviors.
The Lord is calling us to a life that is free from the need to comfort ourselves with fellowship in the flesh by using other people’s sin as an excuse for our own, while rejecting the fellowship of the cross-life that Jesus paid so dearly to offer us.
True loving compassion is developed in us when we have become obedient and loving enough (unselfish enough) to see others trapped in their sin, and we’re willing to risk (sacrifice) anything we would want to gain from them (their approval, their high opinion of us, their connection with us) in order to lovingly tell them the truth about our own deliverance from sin and help them see their way to that same repentance and freedom.
I encourage you to read Marilyn Howshall’s ebook Empowering the Transfer of Moral Values and Faith to learn more about the overcoming life the Lord is calling you to. Lifestyle of Learning’s™ Making Heart-Level Connections mini coaching programs will give you specific guidance how to cooperate with the Lord toward the overcoming life.