“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). Paul has just listed sins, including covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, gossip, slandering, boasting, and those disobedient to their parents. He then sternly warns the Roman church to be careful not to approve of those who “do such things,” especially since they do the exact same. In Rom. 2:1-2, he continues the thought with the following, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.”
When someone commits the same sins they judge others for committing, they condemn themselves. Almost every day, a Christian brother or sister seems to fiercely judge others in the church for doing something they are doing. A perfect example of this is gossip. The individual approaches someone and begins to “discuss” a third party’s faults. Desperate for an ally, they circle their wagons by throwing the “guilty” person under the bus, so to speak. They spend as long as they have a listening ear in gossip about the tendency the object of their judgment has to gossip. It gets even more complicated, however. Even as we listen to them and realize they are doing the same, we often allow them to continue for some unfathomable reason. In doing so, not only are we condoning the sin of gossip, but we become active participants, complicit in the same.
We are told to admonish those who sin in Gal 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Notice how we are warned not to be tempted to do the same. In 1 Cor. 15:33, we read the following, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” When we listen to gossip, say nothing to someone cheating on a spouse, or remain silent even as we know someone has committed theft or some other sin, our good morals are ruined. We are so desperate to keep a friendship intact that we are willing to forgo doing what we know is the right thing. We excuse our behavior by saying the other person deserves it or no ill was intended, but nothing good will come from it. Instead of participating in their sins, we should correct them for the sake of their salvation. But we also need to do so with the right intentions and the right spirit.
To admonish is to “express warning or disapproval in a gentle, earnest or solicitous manner” or “to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to.” That is why Paul says in Gal.6:2 to do so in a “spirit of gentleness.” A true friend will not hesitate to call out another for their wrongdoings, but their approach will be one of caring concern. No one reacts to harsh, accusatory words, but most will listen to an admonishment, especially when it comes from a place of genuine Christian concern. But be careful not to do so in a judgmental manner as Paul so eloquently puts it in Rom. 2:3, “Do you suppose, O man – you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God?” Don’t proclaim judgment on sinners while committing the same sin – it will not end well for you. And don’t be a participating third party and thus allow your morals to slip.
If your care for them, do your best to return them to the obedience of the Word. Don’t allow their sin to gown in them until it becomes like a raging fire determined to burn everything before it, including their soul. Do the right thing, and you will save them – do the wrong thing, and both you and them risk damnation. Jam. 5:19-20, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 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.”