"Seen and Unseen Sins"
As he closes out this section of roles within the local church, Paul deals with the sins of both the leadership and the membership. This passage help us to look, not for the sin of people, but learning to not be so judgmental towards others. God is the final judge.
Seen and Unseen Sins
(1 Tim. 5:17-25)
A. It was a time when the church was known for its good works and aid of its own. People within the church who had land or homes sold some of their possessions and gave generously to the apostles who oversaw this great ministry of benevolence.
B. Giving was one sign of dependency upon God. Why I give of my money and possession, I learn that things are not where I put my trust, but in God. I also see needs of others and feel their suffering as if it were my own. It was a time that the church was striving to be family.
C. But not everyone had the same attitude. There were some who sold land and gave money, but they lied about it – apparently because it was more about being seen than it was about helping others. Acts 4 and 5 tells us this story.
D. Acts 5:1-2 tell us the situation. So here we have this husband and wife team that conspire to lie. The text continues. About 3 hours after the husband’s body is taken away, his wife is confronted with this sin. There are two verses in this passage that I want you to hear. First, after the husband dies, the second after the wife dies. (verses 5, 11)
E. Hold that thought and listen to Paul’s statement to Timothy (READ 1 Tim. 5:20)
I. Dealing With Sin
A. So we come to a section in this letter when Paul talks to Timothy about confronting sin. Christians still sin. Church leaders still sin. Elders, Deacons, the Preacher still sin. And sin destroys. It is insidious like a slow growing cancer that has one end – death.
B. So you have to learn how to deal with sin before it destroys. You have to learn how to confront sin before it becomes so great that entire congregations suffer due to the sin of one individual. How do you confront sin?
C. Start by understanding what Paul is teaching. Paul is not telling Timothy, you or me to go around and seek to find out all the struggles of the leadership or fellow Christians within the church body. The fact remains that some sins are seen and some are unseen. The only sin that you can deal with are the sins that are seen.
D. Now, to keep this in the teaching of Paul, he tells Timothy about elders and every other member who PERSIST in sin. That is a present active word in the Greek. It is dealing with people who keep on sinning. The only idea behind it that I can understand is the that which Jesus gave in Matt. 18.
E. In Matthew 18 the process Jesus gave is if your brother sins against you talk to him alone. Keep it private. The goal, win your brother back. If that brother continues in that sin, take two or three witnesses and confront him so that everything can be established. Again, the goal is reconciliation. But if that brother continues to sin after you privately and then with a few witnesses confront him, then take it before the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, then view him as an unbeliever.
F. Paul is trying to teach Timothy how to be helpful to the church family, not harmful to people. Our job isn’t to go around looking for sin. Our ministry of reconciliation begins between us in the church family where sin had caused pain and division. Remember, Paul is dealing with persistent sin, and therefore sins which are seen. But that leads us to the end of this passage.
II. Seen and Unseen Sins
A. Paul speaks of two categories – the seen and the unseen. Within those two categories, Paul deals with sin and good works. The idea that sin ruins relationships with God and man is taught throughout the Bible. Many Christians, not just church leader, but many of you sitting here today are good at covering up sin. It is a struggle that every Christian has. We are not perfectly sinless, even as we mature in Christ. So you have some sin that are seen and some unseen.
B. Those which are seen must be dealt with in order to help that Christian who is caught up in a sin. The ones that are unseen will only be faced by God on Judgement Day. Our desire to hide our sin often causes greater harm, than if we face our sin, repent of it, and accept God’s grace to move forward. Take with you John’s teaching (1 John 1:5-10)
C. We can and do walk in the light, we can and do sin. The only time sin darkens our walk is when we arrogantly say we have no sin. It’s okay to admit sin, when it is done sincerely, with the right people, and a heart to walk with God. When that happens we are in fellowship with God and each other. When we call ourselves Christians, but walk in darkness we break that fellowship. We are too important of a family to break fellowship.
D. But there are also seen and unseen good works. Don’t just camp on the bad. Paul has a very positive statement by reminding us that good triumphs over evil. Even unseen good works cannot remain hidden. Now, he is probably dealing with “hidden from God” but the point is every act will come to light. As said in 2 Cor. 5:10
A. I am so thankful for all that good that is done in this congregation. So many of you quietly work and help with the physical building, ministry programs, and individuals within this church. You don’t do it for your own glory. You simply want to serve and can smile to see good in others.
B. Some of you may be here hurting in the pain of a secret sin. No one is asking you to come forward and share all your dirt with this congregation, but I would ask you to share it all with God and to find spiritual people who will help you walk in the light.
C. We serve a God who reconciles sinners back to himself. If you are here today, and have never put on Christ by repenting of your sin, confessing and make Jesus the Lord of your life, then have the sins wipe away in the waters of baptism, you face only spiritual darkness. If we can help you walk in God’s light, we invite you come as stand and sing.