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FIRST-PERSON: There is no private sin

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Lone-Ranger Christianity is not biblical Christianity. God’s purpose is to build a church, not just to save isolated individuals. He desires a family of redeemed people who know they belong together.

Some say they love the Lord but don’t believe in the local church. How can they be in fellowship with the One who “loved the church, and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25)?

Only in healthy interdependence on each other, in a fellowship where love is actively lived out, can we realize the ideal provided in Ephesians 4:13, “… until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”

The new life we have in Jesus Christ is not a private matter to be lived in isolation. Without doubt, our faith has its solitary aspects. No one can be saved for another. Each must individually turn to Christ. People are saved one at a time, not in groups. Saving faith is personal faith.

But there is a corporate element in our faith. The church of our Lord is the body of Christ and a family in which we are fellow-citizens. He is the head and we are the members. We cannot belong to Christ without belonging to his people as well. We cannot be properly related to each other without being properly related to God. But, we cannot be properly related to God without being properly related to each other.

There is no such thing as genuine fellowship of believers among themselves apart from their individual fellowship with God. And there is no genuine fellowship with God that does not produce a living fellowship with other believers. A vital part of our life with the Lord is our lives with each other.

That’s why the apostle Paul warned the Ephesians to put away lying and to speak the truth because “we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).

There is no private sin, no isolated wrong. A lie is a sin against the fellowship of believers, a hurt inflicted upon others in the faith.

This idea of fellowship dominates the New Testament teachings about the church. Any thought of enjoying salvation in isolation is foreign to the New Testament.

Christian fellowship moves us toward mature stature of his fullness and is the earthly counterpart and foretaste of the eternal fellowship that is in heaven.
Draper is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • James T. Draper Jr.