Tolerance and grace are not the same

Published 1:18 pm Sunday, January 18, 2015

There are many things being allowed in churches today in the name of “tolerance” and people are confused. But it’s not a new problem.

The Bible tells us the Corinthians had a member of their church committing fornication with his stepmother and the leaders did nothing about it. They thought by allowing the sin to continue that they were showing the grace of God. They probably thought: “Look how loving and tolerant we are.”

When Paul (the great grace preacher) heard what was happening in the church, he commanded them in 1 Corinthians 5:5: “Deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

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Paul did not mean, “Send him to hell in a hand basket.”

But rather remove him from the blessing of the church, let his sin catch up with him (reap what is sown), so later on he may repent and his soul may be saved. Paul’s command also served the purpose of removing any false feeling of security the sinning man might have among the fellowship of Christians.

He could have been thinking, “If they let me keep my position in the church, knowing how I’m living, then God will let me into heaven, too.”

And that’s the problem with tolerance.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, tolerance is defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”

If we are talking about my opinions and standards, then I need to be tolerant — because my opinions really don’t matter.

But when we lower the standards God has set, we don’t help anybody — we actually confuse them into thinking they’re saved when they’re not. Because God’s opinion and standards are the only ones that matter.

You see, there’s a big difference between love and tolerance. You don’t show “love” to your body by being tolerant to cancer — you remove it. A great example of love in action is the Emmy-winning TV show “Intervention.”

Each episode shows a real addict who is so addicted he or she can’t quit alone. Family members decide to stop tolerating the addict’s lifestyle, stage an intervention, confront the addict and get them the help they need.

Apostle Paul understood that the most loving thing you can do is confront individuals about sin, tell them you love them and give them the help they need.

Later on, Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 13:6: “Love rejoices in the truth.”

If you truly love someone and they’re doing something that is hurtful, physically and/or spiritually, you will tell the truth.

But tolerance says: “Don’t say anything about it, just keep silent. What’s true for you may not be true for them.”

Tolerance allows sin to grow and spread.

The reason people are confused today is because the church is confused — tolerating, accepting, even celebrating things that God calls sin. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Salvation in sin is not possible. It must always be salvation from sin.”

The two reasons why it was important to deal with the sinning

man in the Corinthian church (and why pastors must confront sin today): 1. For the sake of the man’s salvation. 2. For the sake of purity in the church.

That’s why Jesus called us to “love one another.” Not tolerate each other.

Tolerance says, “You must approve of what I do. You must agree with me.”

But love responds, “I must do something even harder. I will love you even when your behavior offends me and I will tell you the truth because I know the truth will set you free.”


Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Huntington, W.Va.