The Sin of Tolerance

Billy Graham
Billy Graham (Ross Busby/BGEA)

Jesus Was Intolerant Toward Hypocrisy
He pronounced more woes on the Pharisees than on any other sect because they were given to outward piety, but inside they were a sham. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He said, “For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matt. 23:25).

A counterfeit Christian, single-handedly, can do more to retard the progress of the church than a dozen saints can do to forward it. That is why Jesus was so intolerant of sham! A great church leader said that the greatest need in the church today is for church members to live what they profess.

The hypocrite has nothing but the contempt of his or her neighbors and the judgment of God hereafter. That is why Jesus said, “Do not be like the hypocrites” (Matt. 6:16).

Jesus Was Intolerant Toward Selfishness
He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself” (Luke 9:34). Self-centeredness is the basic cause of much of our distress in life. Hypochondria, a mental disorder that is accompanied by melancholy and depression, is often caused by self-pity and self-centeredness.

Jesus was intolerant of selfishness. To the rich young ruler He said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matt. 19:21). It wasn’t the giving of his goods that Jesus demanded, but his release from selfishness and its devastating effects on his personality and life.

Jesus was intolerant of selfishness when He said, “For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). The life that Jesus urges us to lose is the selfishness that lives within us, the old nature of sin that is in conflict with God. Peter, James and John left their nets, but Jesus did not object to nets as such; it was the selfish living they symbolized that He wanted them to forsake. Matthew left the “custom seat,” a political job, to follow Christ. But Jesus did not object to a political career. It was the selfish quality of living that it represented that He wanted Matthew to forsake.

Jesus Was Intolerant Toward Sin
He was tolerant toward the sinner, but intolerant toward the evil that enslaves the sinner. To the adulteress He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He forgave her because He loved her; but He condemned her sin because He loathed it with a holy hatred.
God has always been intolerant toward sin! His Word says: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil ...” (Is. 1:16).

“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin” (1 Cor. 15:34).

Christ was so intolerant toward sin that He died on the cross to free men and women from its power. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Sin lies at the root of most of society’s difficulties today. Whatever separates a person from God disunites that person from others. The world’s problems will never be solved until the question of sin is settled.

The cross is God’s answer to sin. To all who will receive the blessed news of salvation through Christ, it crosses out—cancels forever—sin’s power.

Forest rangers know the value of the “burn-back” in fighting forest fires. To save an area from uncontrolled fire, they carefully burn away the trees and shrubs to create a safety barrier. When the forest fire reaches that burned-out spot, plants and animals standing inside the area protected by the burn-back are safe from the flames. Fire is thus fought by fire.

Calvary was a colossal fighting of fire by fire. Christ, taking on Himself all of our sins, allowed the fire of sin’s judgment to fall upon Him. The area around the cross has become a place of refuge for all who would escape the judgment of sin. Take your place with Him at the cross; stand by the cross; yield your life to Him who redeemed you on the cross, and the fire of sin’s judgment can never touch you.

God is intolerant toward sin. That intolerance sent His Son to die for us. He has said “that whoever believes in Him shall not perish.” The clear implication is that those who refuse to believe in Him will be eternally lost. Come to Christ today, while His Spirit is speaking to your heart!  

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