All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. –2 Timothy 3:16
Some Christians and pastors seem to emphasize grace and love so much, that when they see someone who is bold in confronting sin or sinners in their sins, rebuking, correcting, instructing in righteousness, as Scripture says, they reply, “You are prideful. You have spiritual pride. You’re like the Pharisee who thought he was better than the tax collector. You should just judge yourself, and not judge others.”
I have a problem with this mentality. For several reasons:
1. You usually hear this coming from pastors or youth pastors; and I suspect that the ulterior motive behind this “humble” non-judgmental concept is not really humility, grace, and love—as they make it out to be. I suspect it really comes from a spirit of diplomacy, tolerance, latitudinarianism, and political correctness usually espoused by both business and church leaders. It’s a cop-out, other words, to keep everybody happy—and to avoid controversy.
2. It is a wrong definition of pride and humility. From what I see, humility is dependence on God, as taught in Andrew Murray’s book Humility. While pride is saying, “I can do it. I’m a self-made man. I don’t need God’s help for anything. I’m self-sufficient.” This is strongly rebuked and warned against in Deuteronomy 8. Humility says, “I am a wretched sinner. I’m a worm. Who shall rescue me from this body of death! Thanks be to Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25). Humility always has original sin in view; and the need for the supernatural grace of the Spirit to assist and guide us in all our thoughts, words, and actions.
3. I think pastors just say, “You’re prideful” to people who expose false prophets, rebuke sin, and preach against sin—because it makes them look bad, because they DON’T preach holiness and righteousness. It makes the “grace and love” pastor look like a compromiser who is not doing his job by preaching and teaching morals.
4. It is not prideful to rebuke sin, so long as it’s done with grace in view. It IS prideful for a self-sufficient Pelagian to rebuke and preach against sin, because then he’s doing it with the view of “I’m holy and I can do it all by myself…without God’s help.” Perfectionism IS prideful. Perfectionistic sin-rebukers ARE prideful; I have no argument with that. But again, it’s not the sin-rebuking part that is prideful—it’s when a preacher thinks he’s holy all by himself, and by his own natural ability.
5. As I mentioned in the John Bunyan article, “The Pharisee and the Publican,” the Pharisee was not at fault for judging the sins of others or the sins of the tax collector. Judging and condemning sin helps us to distance ourselves from temptation and vice. The sin of the Pharisee in the parable was that he did not judge himself in his prayers. He saw himself as “having it all together.” The Pharisee was a perfectionist.
Don’t be deceived by compromising “all grace and all love” pastors who actually try to discourage people from taking a strong stance against sin and unrighteousness. Proverbs 27:5: “Better is open rebuke than secret love.” The word REBUKE means to CORRECT or CHIDE: or to PREACH AGAINST SIN. 1 Timothy 5:20: “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” Titus 2:15: “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” James 5:20: “Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Finally, Jesus said in Luke 17:3: “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”
Don’t be deceived by these anti-rebuking pastors. They are either confused or outright compromisers. All of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the New Testament apostles, the Catholic saints, Martin Luther, the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and countless other saints REBUKED and PREACHED AGAINST SIN BOLDLY and FEARLESSLY, regardless of being called “prideful.” You are NEVER wrong when you preach against what is WRONG. It is illogical to assume the opposite. Just make sure to preach the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15); and with the grace of God in view.