Greg’s on a timer, and answers questions about sexual sin and lying.
- What do I say to friend who “is a” Christian and is even in church leadership and is sleeping around but says “we all sin daily.”
- How do you respond to Christians that justify lying by using the accounts of Rahab or Jacob?
Melinda: Hello, I’m Melinda the Enforcer. I’m here with Greg Koukl, who’s purposefully trying not to laugh this time. This is the #STRask podcast, the short podcast. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask, and then I pose them to Greg. We put him on a timer, and he’s got four minutes or less to answer them. Ready to go, Greg? I didn’t do it on purpose.
Greg Koukl: Oh, you did.
Melinda: No, I did not. I’m just trying to move along.
Greg Koukl: I was just taking a drink, and right when I tipped the water into my mouth, she asked me this question. I knew you were going to do that. Okay, I am rocking, ready to rock and roll.
Melinda: Okay. First question.
Greg Koukl: First question.
Melinda: Comes from Emily Steele on Twitter. What do I say to a friend who is a Christian, and is even in church leadership, and is sleeping around, but says, “Well, we all sin daily.”
Greg Koukl: You go to 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 9 where it says fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God, all right? Now, I want to clarify this point. I don’t think that Paul, and there’s a list of sins that he identifies there, but since this is the one that is in question, I don’t think Paul is talking about somebody who falls into a sin of fornication. These are people who are habitually living in this sin, which sounds like this person in Christian leadership. I am frankly appalled at the response because what it does, it seems to reflect a cavalier attitude about serious sin.
Let’s take the roof off, for example. Let’s just say, what if this person said that, “Well, we all sin,” and she slapped him? “What are you doing?” “I’m just slapping you.” “You shouldn’t do that.” “Well, we all sin.” That’s no excuse. It’s just, huh?
Melinda: Or stealing.
Greg Koukl: Anything.
Greg Koukl: Anything, anything like that. Yes, it is true we all sin, but the fact that we all sin is not somehow a cover for our immorality. I’m just thinking 1 Thessalonians. I’m grabbing my Bible now. 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, Paul says, “And this is God’s will for your life, even your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” That’s from memory, but let me just go there. “That each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion like Gentiles who do not know God, and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in this matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity but in sanctification. He who rejects this is not rejecting this but the God who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
Boy, he is wasting a lot of words on one little issue there if it just didn’t matter that much. That’s 1 Thessalonians 4. Paul starts that, “We request, exhort you in the Lord Jesus as you receive instructions how to walk and please God, that you excel still more.” You know what the commandments are. Then he goes into the piece I just read. This person needs to be called out, I think, directly corrected. The friend should talk to this person and just follow Matthew 18. If the person does not listen to this, then you go individually, then you go with another brother, then you take it to the church. If that person’s church will not do anything about-
Melinda: At the very least, take them out of leadership.
Greg Koukl: At the very least, yes.
Greg Koukl: I’m thinking-
Melinda: If that church doesn’t do something, leave that church.
Greg Koukl: Leave the church because I’m thinking that-
Melinda: There’s something wrong with that church.
Greg Koukl: Goodness gracious me. I’m thinking that this woman, whoever the person is who asked the question, raised the issue here that we’re responding to, is I’m sure not the only person who knows about this. Maybe, but probably not, which means somebody’s letting this go. That’s why just follow Matthew 18. Go once, take another person, then take it to the church. If the church doesn’t do anything about it, leave that church. Shame on them.
Melinda: Yeah. Obviously, we all sin daily because we’re never going to become perfect till we get to heaven. There are sins I commit pretty much daily, especially when I’m driving to work on the freeway because I get mad at people. That’s different than basically just waiving it off as though it’s not important. Whenever I get mad at somebody on the freeway, I confess it because I know I’m wrong and I’m having a hard time mastering that sin. That’s very different from just intentionally engaging in something and just waiving it off as no big deal.
Greg Koukl: Absolutely. Paul also talks about something similar in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, I believe. He abrades the Corinthians because they’re taking the sexual sin in their midst so lightly. In fact, it’s the next chapter that he makes this statement, chapter 6 starting in verse 9, where it identifies fornicators along with a number of others, three different types of sexual sin that people who participate in this will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is serious business.
Melinda: I think one of the most frightening things about sin is how deceptive it is, and how we can so easily begin to justify and pretty soon deceive ourselves and be caught in something very serious and not admit it or recognize it.
Greg Koukl: It’s a pastor, apparently.
Melinda: Or somebody in leadership.
Greg Koukl: Or somebody in leadership in the church. This means that it’s almost like under the color of authority they are doing this. It’s just gross. It’s absolutely grotesque.
Melinda: From what I understand, it’s a lot more common for young people these days, even those who say they’re Christians and who attend church, to be engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage because they’ve absorbed so much of the culture. It’s not considered that much of a big deal, but it is. That’s not what the Bible teaches.
Greg Koukl: That’s right, that’s right. We are under authority. By the way, I just thought of a better one than slapping him. Just tell the guy, “I’m going to put this on Facebook.” “Hey, that’s gossip.” “Well, we all sin, don’t we? I’m going to put it on every day to the whole congregation.” Sorry.
Melinda: Next question, this was a leftover that we didn’t get to when you did a Facebook Live event recently.
Greg Koukl: All right.
Melinda: How do you respond to Christians that justify lying by using the accounts of Rahab or Jacob?
Greg Koukl: This is an interesting ethical question here. I almost said delicate, but I don’t know if it’s really so delicate. Some people disagree with what I’m about to say. Lying is wrongful deception. Not all deception is wrongful.
Melinda: Most of it is, probably.
Greg Koukl: Yeah, it is, but I’m just making a distinction. People put on makeup. That’s meant to deceive. They dye their hair. That’s meant to deceive. You make a fake in basketball. That’s meant to deceive. I don’t think anybody’s going to find a moral problem with that. There are times when deception is not a problem. Those are some very pedestrian examples of it. Now, what about Rahab? Rahab lied to protect human life. She was actually applauded for that. You find her listed in the great faith chapter of Hebrews 11. You see her mentioned by James in chapter 2 as lying, that is to protect. It isn’t the lying, it is the act of protection which entailed the lie that was an evidence of her faith in God. That was one of her works that she did to protect God’s people and human life in this case.
In my view, this kind of lying is perfectly permissible. In fact, it’s not only permissible, it’s obligatory because the alternative is turning over a human being to virtually certain death. Now, somebody might say, “Well, just trust God.” You can trust God and lie at the same time. If you say, “Just trust God,” so you turn the people over, now you’re testing God. You’re creating a dangerous situation that you’re then demanding that God rescue you from. If the lying itself under those circumstances is not wrong but rather the right thing to do, which I think it was for Rahab, and I think the same problem with the Egyptian midwives, they were lying, and when Corey ten Boom did all kinds of illegal things that were deceptive, ration cards, and ID cards, and hiding-
Melinda: I just want to move it along here because we’re short on time. Rahab’s situation is different than Jacob’s, right? Jacob basically deceived his father to get the birthright blessing.
Greg Koukl: Yes, of course, right.
Melinda: Jacob is never...
Greg Koukl: Applauded for that.
Melinda: ...applauded for that.
Greg Koukl: Yes, that’s right.
Melinda: He did something wrong to get the outcome that obviously we knew God wanted, but he did not trust God to take care of that situation.
Greg Koukl: Right, it was a wrong means to accomplish a good end.
Melinda: A good end, right.
Greg Koukl: In this particular case, Rahab, I think it was the right means to the right end. Again, this may be controversial. In any event, think about this very quickly. There were some battle plans where the people were meant to make a display as if their army was bigger, when it wasn’t, to threaten the enemy. These were plans that God himself directed Israel to pursue. There is a kind of military deception that’s entailed there that God himself directed. Will you say that’s wrong? I don’t think it is. Simply put, there are times when it is appropriate to deceive, it is appropriate to lie, and one has to just decide based on the individual circumstances the appropriate course of action. Sometimes that’s not easy to do.
Melinda: If you go to the website, put in Rahab in the search feature, you’ll come up with several articles. There’s one that Greg wrote called “White Lies and Other Deceptions” where he talks about this.
Greg Koukl: I did? I wrote that?
Melinda: Yeah, a long time ago.
Greg Koukl: Oh, I forgot.
Melinda: See, I’ve told you before, anything you don’t remember writing, I’m going to claim as my own. I’m going to change the author on that one.
Greg Koukl: You’re going to get most of it then because I can’t remember anything.
Melinda: Exactly right. Going back to something I mentioned on the last question, we have to be really careful about deceiving ourselves like Jacob did about lying for a good reason...
Greg Koukl: Right, right.
Melinda: ...when it’s actually not right.
Greg Koukl: Right, all moral issues are like that. We have to be careful. Sometimes we have righteous indignation or we think we do about some issue. We think that’s what’s informing our response to another person when it really turns out it’s just an example of returning evil for evil. This is something we have to be watchful for.
Melinda: Yeah. I was thinking about a situation, a conversation, I was in last week where my sister actually made the observation that the other person seemed to be showing off a little bit their knowledge.
Greg Koukl: Was she talking about me?
Melinda: No, you weren’t there. I had engaged in the conversation, too.
Greg Koukl: Just checking.
Melinda: As I thought about it afterwards, I had to admit to myself that I was probably doing some of that too even though I didn’t initially think I did. Anyways, just an example, we have to really be careful about examining ourselves in both of these questions this time.
Greg Koukl: Yeah. William Lane Craig once told me to be really careful about name dropping. I got the same advice from Josh McDowell, so I have to change my ways.
Melinda: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I know Greg Koukl. That’s it for this episode, folks, two questions. We’re short on time, 12 minutes, insight on controversial issues. Send us your questions on Twitter, even when they’re tough questions like these, using #STRask. Two episodes every week, Mondays and Thursdays, and the regular podcast on Wednesdays and Fridays. This is Melinda Penner with Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.