Most churches don’t preach against sin anymore. Many Christians reject preaching against iniquity. Learn why we must keep preaching against sin and how to do it.
“Cry aloud, spare not,
Lift up thy voice like a trumpet,
And shew my people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.”
A church that does not preach against sin is a defective church. A preacher that doesn’t preach against sin is disobedient to God, derelict in his duty, and unfaithful to his calling.
Mainstream Christianity in America is on an undeniable path of compromise. Most large churches and famous preachers have little in common with the faith of our fathers. Famous television preacher Joel Osteen personifies many problems with modern Christianity concerning its handling of sin.
“Megachurch pastor of Lakewood Church and televangelist Joel Osteen was a guest on Larry King Now in Los Angeles to talk about everything from Duck Dynasty to Obamacare — and, of course, his views on the gays came up.
King asked Osteen, “What are your views on homosexuality?” to which Osteen replied “The same that they’ve been. I believe that Scripture says that it’s a sin, but I always follow that up by saying, you know what, we’re not against anybody.”
King pressed him to explain, commenting, “How can it be if we don’t know what causes it? You don’t know why you’re a heterosexual.”
“There’s a lot of things, Larry, that I don’t understand- so I just don’t want to preach on it, preach about it,” Osteen said.”
Also, consider this quote from an article at ChristianPost.com.
In an earlier interview with Larry King (CNN, June 20, 2005), King asked Pastor Joel Osteen if he uses the word “sinners.” Joel Osteen replied, “I don’t use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don’t. But most people already know what [when] they’re doing wrong. When I get them to church, I want to tell them that you can change.”
Pastor Joel Osteen has been very clear many times that he doesn’t talk about hell, sin, or damnation, or anything that is hard to hear.
During a special Easter edition of CBS Sunday Morning in 2016, Mr. Osteen said, “… most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough. They’re not doing what they should, raising their kids — we can all find reasons. So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, ‘You know what? I may not be perfect, but I’m moving forward. I’m doing better.’ And I think that motivates you to do better.”
These illustrations are not offered to berate and belittle Joel Osteen. (God is the Judge. He will stand before God, as will I.) These articles are illustrative of a pervasive problem in modern mainstream churches.
An astonishing number of preachers have stopped preaching against sin. The average sermon is more like a self-help talk than a meeting with God. Cheerleaders and motivational speakers have replaced the prophets of the LORD.The world descends into wickedness when pulpits don't preach against sin and Christians are quiet about righteousness. Click To Tweet
Why don’t preachers preach against sin? There are many reasons that we could discuss. Here are a few for you to ponder.
- Weak preachers don’t want to offend the listener.
- Preachers, like most people, want to be popular and liked.
- Greedy grifters or struggling preachers don’t want to lose money.
- Nobody wants to get fired.
Before you condemn a preacher for failing to preach things people don’t want to hear, you should put yourself in his place. The consequences of preaching against sin are real. That’s why church members need to stand behind their pastor as he preaches God’s Truth.
As a preacher who has been maligned, accused, and condemned for preaching God’s Truth, I can tell you that it is difficult at times to take a stand. Yet, stand we must! Do you pray diligently for your preacher? Compromise is not an option for a faithful Christian.
Every faithful preacher in the Bible preached against the sins of their day!
Only false prophets preach peace and prosperity when there is no peace.
1And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; 3Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! 4O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. 5Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. 6They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. 7Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken? 8Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. 9And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord God. 10Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
Are you willing to preach against the popular sins of the day? Do you support your preacher when He obeys God’s command to preach against sin?
The world descends into wickedness when pulpits don’t preach against sin and Christians are quiet about righteousness. We need more people to stand against sin and speak God’s Truth. Will you?
INSTILL THE FOLLOWING FIVE TRUTHS INTO YOUR PHILOSOPHY ABOUT SIN AND PREACHING.
1. Preach Against Sin Fervently.
“Cry aloud, spare not, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet.” Preachers must preach against sin passionately.
Fervent doesn’t mean hateful or mean-spirited. It means hot, boiling over, and animated.
Preaching should be ardent, passionate, zealous, earnest, and spirited. No one enjoys hearing a boring preacher. If the messenger is not consumed by the message, the listeners won’t be either.
Preaching against sin should be fiery and intense.
Isaiah 58:1 tells the preacher to cry aloud. Preachers yell at times. Not every preacher is bombastic. I know some very passionate preachers who seldom raise their voices. However, it is undeniable that a raised voice is a universal sign of passion and urgency.
Some Christians complain about preachers who yell, but they should take up the problem with God. He commanded His men to “cry aloud” against sin.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
This amazing verse reveals God’s commandment for the preacher to smite and stomp! If your preacher hits the pulpit, stomps his foot, claps, or yells while preaching, you can thank the LORD that he is following God’s instructions.
Consider this quote by President Abraham Lincoln.
“I don’t like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”~ Abraham Lincoln
I wholeheartedly agree!
Preachers should preach their hearts out. They should be exhausted and empty at the end of a sermon because they gave all they had. Most preachers take Monday off to recuperate from spending and being spent on Sunday.
“I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”~ Richard Baxter
Some people complain about how the preacher preaches. It’s too loud or too long or too complicated or too shallow. The truth is most people don’t want you preaching about sin no matter how you say it! The content is bothersome to them, not the delivery. Rebels don’t like the Truth no matter how you say it.
2. Preach Against Sin Fearlessly.
Isaiah 58:1 commands us to “spare not.”
Don’t hold back!
“Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God; such alone will shake the gates of hell.”~ John Wesley
We must preach the whole counsel of God without reservation or apology.
9I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: Lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. 10I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
Every preacher faces opposition. God will give you boldness and courage to preach. Don’t be afraid of the dirty looks, prideful sneers, and murmuring mischaracterizations.
Preach the Truth and let God take care of the rest.
17Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. 18For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. 19And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.
God told Jeremiah not to be afraid of their faces. It is incredible what preachers can see from the pulpit. Listeners let the preacher know how they feel about the message with their countenance.
Oh, you wouldn’t believe the looks we get when we preach against people’s sin! Just keep on preaching!
We must name sin!
Don’t just preach against sin, evil, or wrongdoing in general terms. Shine the light upon sin. Call it out. Declare it as wickedness and an insult to our thrice-holy God.
Preachers must cry against sins such as:
- Gender Confusion
- Drug Abuse
- AND MUCH MORE!
“The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn’t hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the Truth brings him to his knees.”~ Billy Sunday
Some preachers foolishly contend that they will not preach against anything unless it is specifically mentioned in the Bible.
God did not mention every sin that humankind would ever dream up in His Word. People don’t read the Bible already!
Imagine how many volumes it would take to fulfill that requirement!
The Bible is a book of principles. We can apply His principles to every situation in any generation.
Fearless preaching is Spirit-filled preaching.
But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, And of judgment, and of might, To declare unto Jacob his transgression, And to Israel his sin.
The truth is most people don’t want you preaching about sin no matter how you say it!
JUST KEEP PREACHING!
3. Preach Against Sin Faithfully.
Cry aloud, spare not, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, And shew my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. And shew my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.”
Sinners don’t want the light shined on their sin. They want sin to be normalized and accepted. They resist Biblical preaching against sin.
Yet, it is the preacher’s duty to cry aloud and spare not while showing people the sin in their lives.
“It is the business of a virtuous clergy to censure vice in every appearance of it.”~ Patrick Henry
A man of God who only preaches what is popular cannot fulfill His calling.
“A man who first tried to guess ‘what the public wants,’ and then preached that as Christianity because the public wants it, would be a pretty mixture of fool and knave”~ C.S. Lewis
Once a man of God stops mentioning certain sins because people won’t like it, he has laid down the prophets’ mantle and become a run-of-the-mill politician.
Preachers are called to cry against the sins of the world.
Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:
We must preach the Truth of God, whether it is popular or unpopular.
2 Timothy 4:1–4
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
A preacher cannot choose the topics of his message based on public opinion. He must receive the message from God and preach it for God. We preach to an audience of One. If God is happy, all is well. If you please every person in the crowd but disobey God, you have failed.
4. Preach Against Sin Frequently
People sin. A lot. Therefore, we must preach against sin a lot.
Modern compromisers complain that we preach against sin too much. How is that possible? We must keep preaching the Truth until it is obeyed.
Once, a man complained that I preached against sin all the time. It was too much for him. He wanted more nice and encouraging sermons. I told him that I love encouraging people, but was commissioned by God to preach against sin too. I explained that when people stopped committing those sins, I could stop preaching about them.
Of course, we must encourage and exhort during preaching. I love to inspire people and breathe life into them. Often, I preach the great themes of grace, hope, peace, joy, and love. I seek to uplift Christ in every sermon. Yet, it was the Lord that taught us to preach against sin.
A preacher that only preaches “positive” messages is like a parent that only feeds the children candy. Preach the whole counsel of God!
7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. 10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
In verse 10, we see the six duties of the prophet.
- Root out
- Pull down
- Throw down
Think about that! Two-thirds of the prophet’s message was negative. Only one-third was positive. You must till up the weeds and break up the fallow ground before you can plant a garden. You must tear down a condemned building before you can build a new one in its place.Sin must be rooted out, pulled down, destroyed, and thrown down before a monument to God's grace and glory can be erected. Click To Tweet
5. Preach Against Sin Fairly
Preachers and committed Christians must strive to live the truths of holiness that they preach to others.
The Pharisees were known for putting burdens on others that they were not willing to bear themselves.
2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
The Judaizers committed the same fraud against Gentile believers.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
We must strive to live holy lives and separate from sin, or we become pharisaical hypocrites ourselves.
The Jews who clung to the Law for salvation were breaking the Law as they preached its virtue to sinners. How hypocritical!
We must strive to obey the Scripture we preach lest we dilute the message of Christ and give occasion for sinners and backsliders to blaspheme God.
17Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Puritan preacher, John Flavel, said, “It is easier to declaim, like an orator, against a thousand sins of others than it is to mortify one sin, like Christians, in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people than one to our own hearts.”
Don’t just preach against sin. Mortify it in your own life. Be holy, for God is holy.
After even the most difficult sermons, leave the listeners with hope. God can give them victory over the sins that enslave them. Condemn their sin, but commend them to God.
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Preachers must preach against sin and help God’s people gain the victory over sin & temptation.
Christians must speak against sin and encourage their pastors to be faithful in their duty to expose sin. Stand behind the preacher when he boldly proclaims the Truth of God.
If we fail in our duty to expose and excoriate sin, we will fail to win the world to Christ and lose our churches to worldliness in the process.
Preach the Word!
A portion of this article was originally published in the SAVE NEW ENGLAND Quarterly Magazine’s Winter 2020 issue. You can learn more about the magazine here.