The apostle Paul wrote, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (I Timothy 1:15-16).
Did Paul, the great sinner, then take a tolerant approach to sin? Did he instruct the church of Christ to be open-minded and open-hearted to immoral behaviors, to people who are greedy in their interactions with others, to those who practice false religions, to those who slander others, to drunkards and to crafty people who contrive ways of getting money from people without work or services? Is Christ’s church directed to be known for its immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness and swindling?
No! Paul also wrote, “I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (I Corinthians 5:11). Each of us has a sinful past, but sin is what we give up, not what we accept in ourselves.