While in school to become a counselor, I learned about what is known as the Tarasoff Case. Without going into details, the Supreme Court of California decided that mental health workers have the duty to warn others of danger. If I have a client making a serious threat against someone, I not only have the right to break confidentiality and warn the person; but according to the 1976 ruling, I have the duty to warn and protect the intended victim.
How does this affect the spiritual situation that many find themselves in today? Do we as Christians have the right, yea, even the duty to warn those in danger? When we warn those in danger, we are often called narrow-minded and intolerant. We may warn and be called homophobic. We may warn and be called meddlers. The world can see the need for warning and protection from imminent physical harm, but they are obliviously blind to the need to warn about impending spiritual doom.
If we read the book of Ezekiel, we learn that God set the prophet as a watchman. While we don’t have the same calling that Ezekiel had—we are not prophets in the biblical sense that Ezekiel was—we do all have the calling to share God’s Word of warning to those in danger.
Ezekiel 3:17-19 17Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
This same warning is repeated in Ezekiel 33. We, as Christians, are called to be witnesses as we go about our day to day life (Matthew 28:18-20). Paul says we are to warn those who walk contrary to the Word of God.
I Thess 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
This verse should be an encouragement and an outline. Too often, Christians are seen as always judging and condemning. This verse is balanced in that we are to warn those acting contrary to the Word of God, but we are also supposed to encourage, lift-up, and be patient. Too often Christians forget all except the condemning judgment.
Anyone who knows me knows that I do my best to encourage, edify, lift-up, and be patient with others. I spend my life helping those who want help to change and improve. However, those who know me also know that I believe in calling a spade a spade. If God says it is sin, then it is sin.
I believe it is my duty to call sin what it is and to warn those who are sinning that God can and will give victory over sin. I believe it is the duty of every Christian to point out sin but only when they do it in love and with an extended hand to help the person claim to the mountain heights of victory. If one points out sin and then turns their back, they are just as guilty of sin as the one they called out.
God says that when we see someone sinning, we are to go to that person with humility—not holier than thou attitude—and put our arms around them to lift them up.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
What are we supposed to do when we catch a person bound up in sexual sin? What are we supposed to do when someone has committed adultery? What are we supposed to do when someone is actively engaged in homosexual activity? What are we supposed to do when we catch someone lying? The list can go on and on. The answer to each question is the same.
We are to go to that person realizing we could be the one sinning and bring them into the fold of God. We are to win them with love. We are to encourage and lift them up. We are to be there for them
Our duty to warn also carries with it the duty to be a mentor, a fellow traveler, a hand-up, a shoulder to cry on, a rock to share our strength. We are to be humble and non-judgmental. We are to warn them they need to change and that we need to change and that change is easier if we do it together.
If you want to see what follows the warning in Ezekiel 33 read how God is the Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34. God condemned those who used their duty to warn in order for their own gain. He condemned those who judged instead of bound up the weak and broken. God tells us to judge in love.
While we warn of the problems, we must also stand ready and give the answers to the problems. We mush lend the hand that is needed to strengthen those who desire to change. We must be understanding. We must remember that sin is sin and just because someone’s sin is different than our sin does not give us the right to think our sin is more acceptable. All sin is sin.
If you look at what happened to those in the Bible who stood up and decried sin, you will see if you take God’s Word seriously and call out sin, you will be condemned and persecuted. Mankind may not like people to proclaim the Word of God, but He demands it and rewards those who stand of Him. After all, isn’t His will all that counts anyway?