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How to handle someone's sin in public

How to handle someone's sin in public

Someone once said, “One of the greatest tests of a person’s character is how they handle someone else’s sin in the public arena.”

If you walk with the Lord long enough, there will come a time when you have to confront someone else’s sin, possibly in the public arena.

Kelly Williams is co-founder and senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. |

The Bible is very clear both in the New Testament in Galatians 6 and in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah, that we have responsibility to hold each other accountable to being who God created us to be as followers of Jesus Christ.

God told Jeremiah to tell the people of Israel in Jeremiah 11:4, “Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you.” Jeremiah responded back to God that he would share this with the people of God.

When God asks us to hold someone accountable, it is important that we agree with what the Lord has told us to tell them.

God wants us to remind people to obey His voice.

Now I know that confrontation is not an easy thing, especially in the public arena, and it is easy to talk ourselves out of what God has asked us to do and just “pray” for them. But there comes a point when God asks us to stop praying and go confront. He did just that with Jeremiah in Jeremiah 11:14. He said to Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people. 15 What right has my beloved in my house, when she has done many vile deeds.”

Sometimes God’s confrontation requires more than just praying for them. It requires actual, real, face to face confrontation.

Look at what Jeremiah had to say about this prophecy from his personal perspective in Jeremiah 11:18, “The Lord made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their deeds.” Twenty-years ago God woke me up and revealed to me what another pastor in our city was doing. It was not good. God asked me to eventually address that issue in his life. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.

After I confronted the pastor in 2001, I then struggled for five years wondering if I did what God asked me to do. I wondered often out loud to the Lord during that season, “Lord does your holiness not matter?”

He closed my mouth on November 5, 2006. He showed me what mattered to Him. He used an unbeliever, a gay male prostitute, to expose the sin of a pastor and to restore to me that His holiness really did matter to Him. I talk about this story in detail in the book, The Mystery of 23: God Speaks.

Jeremiah came up against a lot of opposition in his day when He did what God told him to do, and so will you. Jeremiah 11:21 says the people Jeremiah confronted said back to him, “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, or you will die by our hand.” God’s response to that was to tell Jeremiah in 11:22, “Behold, I will punish them. 23 I will bring disaster upon them.”

While you wait for God to confront those whom you have confronted for Him, don’t be surprised if they come after you to silence you and hurt you for standing up for God and confronting them. Just recently it came out in the news that Ravi Zacharias, who led one of the most well-known ministries in the world, would often use this sort of tactic to silence people who knew things about him he didn’t want known.

If you find yourself in these sorts of situations, rest assured like me you will probably wonder if God sees and if He sees, does He care? Jeremiah said it best in Jeremiah 12:1, “Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

I wondered the same questions myself as I waited for God to reveal the wickedness that was going on. I love God’s response to Jeremiah in 12:5, “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? 6 For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you;”

I don’t know much but I do know this, if you confront someone about their sin who refuses to repent, they will come after you.

God says to Jeremiah in 12:7, “I have forsaken my house; 10 Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion,”

Sadly, we have seen so many pastors fall in the last two years. God tells Jeremiah in 11:14, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will pluck them up from their land 15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage.

It is really important to remind people being disciplined by God that God is for them and His compassion is still for them.

He is not judging them to destroy them. He is judging them to bring them back to Himself.

But what if those you confront won’t repent? God says to Jeremiah in 13:17, “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride”.

God told Israel through Jeremiah 13:26, “I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen." If people refuse to repent from your confrontation with them, expect God to eventually expose them publicly.

You can’t make someone repent, but make sure you are obedient and that you share and confront those God expects you to confront. Stand up under the scorn others are causing you because you confronted them about their sin. Trust God to reconcile all that you have lost and sacrificed on His behalf.

Kelly Williams is co-founder and senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His books include: The Mystery of 23, Friend of Sinners and Real Marriage. He also maintains a blog.

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