Non-Participation in Sin Is Not Enough

by Edward O. Bragwell

"And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:11).

Christians and local churches, when questioned about their silence concerning various popular sins, often defend and console themselves by answering, "But, I (or we) do not participate in such things." That is all well and good, but that is not enough. We must also actively expose the "works of darkness" for what they really are. It is not enough to just refrain from such things as false doctrine, homosexuality, social drinking, immodesty or contributing to unscriptural church innovations – we must "even expose them" for what they are. Now there is where the rub comes. We do that and we get it from every direction – from the participants and non-participants alike.

We hear almost daily people bemoaning the divided state of our nation and even division among Christians. This is often accompanied with calls for those openly exposing such things to cease and desist from speaking out for the sake of unity. They do not seem to get that there is something worse than division, i.e., unity in sin.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). His peace was not unconditional nor unreserved. Paul wrote, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Romans 12:18). He recognized that it would not be possible to be at peace with all men because "all men do not have faith" (II Thessalonians 3:2).

The oneness for which Jesus prayed is based on the truth of his word: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:17-21).

In this prayer, Jesus first prayed that his immediate disciples (the apostles) would be sanctified by the truth of God which is the word of God. He then broadened his prayer to include those who would believe on him through the apostles' word. He prayed for them all to be one as he and the Father were one.

As much as one might desire peace with all men, there cannot be peace without a meeting of the minds. For the faithful Christian there can be no meeting of the minds with those who are participating in sin nor with those who will not expose sin for what it is.