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Bible verses about Tolerance of sin
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 81:4-5

Asaph points out that God ordained the law of which he speaks. Law is inseparable from sovereignty. The god of any system can be identified by locating the source of its laws. From this principle, Herbert Armstrong concluded that the church is the only place on earth where the government of God operates.

In the beginning of the United States, our system of law and our standards of morality were lifted in principle—but sometimes almost verbatim—from the absolutes of the Bible. After the Civil War, the basis of our laws gradually switched from the absolutes of the Bible to human relativism, which claims there are no absolutes. It asserts that every system's values, indeed everyone's values, are as good as the next. This philosophy began as mere advice to be tolerant, but as it became more popular, its adherents urged people to be pragmatic, that is, to adapt, to make compromises in values, to do whatever needs to be done regardless of its conflict with others' values.

Concurrently, situation-ethics systems arose so that even churches eventually looked upon the Ten Commandments as mere suggestions. God was gradually erased from our public schools. Relativism has crept into every area of life so that it now dominates our moral and ethical thinking in education, religion, childrearing, marital relations, economics, agriculture, health care, social programs, etc.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment


 

Jeremiah 17:9

This verse is among the best known of all verses in the Bible. Though we know the words, could we perhaps not grasp some of the depth of what Jeremiah is trying to convey, particularly its practical, everyday application?

It is interesting that the Hebrew word translated "deceitful" (Strong's #6121) comes from exactly the same root as the name "Jacob" (which gives a bit of insight into the mindset of that famous Bible character in his pre-conversion days - God has a habit of naming things what they are). This word is used only three times in the Old Testament. It indicates "a swelling," "a humping up," and thus a knoll or small hill.

When used in relation to traits of human personality, it describes an inflated, prideful vanity, a characteristic that is distastefully useless, corrupting, and intensely self-serving. According to Strong's, it also indicates something fraudulent or crooked. In other words, it suggests an intentional perversion of truth intended to induce another to surrender or give up something of value. What Jacob twice did to Esau gives a good idea of its practical meaning.

Today, we might say our heart is always attempting to "con" us into something that is not good for us in any way. Its inducements may indeed appear attractive on the surface, but further examination would reveal that its appeals are fraudulent and risky. In fact, its appeals are not only downright dangerous, it is incurably set in this way.

In Jeremiah 17:9, the Hebrew word is translated "deceitful," but in the other two usages, it is translated "corrupted" and "polluted." This word should give us a clear indication of what God thinks of this mind that is generating our slippery, self-serving conduct and attitudes. In His judgment, it is foul in every sense, to be considered as belonging in a moral sewer or septic tank.

The King James translators chose to use "deceitful," and since it is a good synonym, just about every modern translation has followed its lead. Deceit is a cognate of deceive, which means "to mislead," "to cheat," "to give a false appearance or impression," "to lead astray," "to impose a false idea," and finally, "to obscure the truth." "Deceitful" thus indicates the heart to be brim-full of these horrible activities.

The term "desperately" (Strong's #605) also needs definition. It indicates something so weak, feeble, and frail as to be at the point of death. Thus, most modern translations, including the KJV margin, have opted for "incurable." Elsewhere, God calls it "a heart of stone," as if rigor mortis has already set in despite it still being alive. In other words, nothing can be done about it, as it is set in a pattern of influence that cannot be changed for the better. God promises, then, that He will give those He calls a new heart, a heart of flesh, one that will yield to Him and His way of life.

It is good to understand all these descriptors, but they only give us what amounts to book-learning on this vital topic. It is what its problems are in everday, practical situations that makes God so dead set against it that He declares it "incurable." It cannot be fixed to His satisfaction and is therefore unacceptable for His Family Kingdom.

We can understand why from this brief illustration: What are the two great commandments of the law? First: We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). In other words, we are to love Him above all other things. We are to respond to God's wonderful, generous love toward us with a love that employs all of our faculties to match His love toward us.

Jesus says in Luke 14:26, "If any one comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Do we grasp the practical application of this? He means that we are to make whatever sacrifice is necessary, even to giving up our lives, to submit in obedience to any, even the least, of God's commands. If at any time we put ourselves on equal footing to Him, we have actually elevated ourselves over Him and have committed idolatry.

The second great commandment is to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Though not quite as stringent as the first, it still is a very high standard. Jesus says that on these two commandments everything else in our response to God hangs (verse 40). Love and law are inextricably bound together in our relationship with God.

Yet, herein lies the problem. Keeping them is impossible for man as he now is, encumbered with this deceitful heart. Our heart will not permit us to do this because it is so self-centered it absolutely cannot consistently obey either of these commandments. Thus, no character of any value to God's Kingdom can be created in one with a heart as deceitful and out of control as an unconverted person. It is incurably self-centered, self-absorbed, and narcissistic in its concerns about life's activities.

This deceit has many avenues of expression, but none is more effective than to convince us we are far better than we actually are - but far better as compared to what or whom? Our hearts have an incredible ability to hide us from the reality of what we are spiritually and morally. It does this so effectively that it can harden us to the extent that we can be blinded to any and every failing in our character! It lures us into sin, hiding its seriousness from us and making us believe it to be a rather minor affair. It convinces us that "nobody got hurt" or "everybody's doing it."

In Hebrews 3:12-13, Paul issues a warning just as applicable today as it was in the first century: "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.'" Sin promises more than it can deliver. It assures us of pleasures it never imparts. Sometimes it does deliver some pleasure, but it conceals the boomerang effect that will surely come. It also obscures its addictive power, invariably leading us beyond our original limits. When we first sin a specific sin, we are under delusion, and it will lead us step by step until we are enslaved to it.

It can put on plausible appearances, even the mantle of virtue, convincing us we are doing ourselves and others a favor. Sin deludes us with hope of happiness, but what does the gambler feel when he loses his bankroll, or the drunkard after he is burdened with a death caused by his drunk driving, or the fornicator who discovers he has AIDS, or the adulterer who must live with the fact that he has destroyed a marriage and family?

Human nature will generate any number of excuses - self-justifications, really - to avoid any sacrifice, no matter how small, or to admit any guilt that might damage its self-assessment of its value. It sometimes manages to produce narcissism so strong that all activity must have it as the center of the universe, and it will work hard to make sure it controls virtually everything. Pride and self-gratification are its driving impulses.

By insisting on "tolerance" over the last several decades, human nature has deceitfully managed to produce an open-minded acceptance of what was once commonly known to be sinful behavior. It has succeeded by maintaining that no absolutes exist regarding conduct, thus one morality is just as good as another. The nation has been bulldozed into accepting this deceitful concept by cooperative media, good-looking celebrities, savvy politicians, and liberal judges.

Thus, a polite, secular paganism has overtaken our nation, and many have become convinced that the gods and ways of the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Taoists, occultists, or whatever religionists are all the same. In one way, they are correct. They all do have the same god, but it is not the God of the true Christian religion and the Bible, One who adamantly insists on purity, chastity, and integrity of life in harmony with His commands.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Two)


 

Hosea 5:10

In Hosea's time, landowners had a system of surveying in which they used stone pillars to mark out the boundaries of their farms. These princes of Judah came out at night—when nobody could see them—and move the pillars so that their properties would get a little bit larger.

We can apply the principle here to real life in relation to sin. The princes of Judah did what we call today "pushing the envelope," pushing the boundaries of what was considered to be safe, right, and within the law. A person will push repeatedly on the edges of what he considers to be acceptable and not sin until the conscience adjusts, and what he formerly would not be caught dead doing—because it would smite his conscience and he would feel terribly guilty—now he can accept as being not so bad

Are we keeping the Sabbath in the same way we kept it twenty years ago? Have we pushed the envelope so that what we would not be caught dead doing twenty years ago we will now do without even thinking about it?

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 3)


 

Amos 5:13

The people feared to protest openly the injustices in their society. Why would people be afraid of pointing the finger at somebody who is doing wrong? Because they knew that if they did, that would be the end of their advancement in society and at work. They did not want to blow the whistle on anybody else because they would get the reputation of being a troublemaker—and there went their future.

The word prudent indicates anyone who wants to succeed. "You would not want to spoil your prospects with this company would you? Just look the other way. Keep your eyes shut. Sure, we are stealing a little bit. Sure, this isn't quite legal. Sure, the government does not know about these shipments. Sure, we are getting these things into the country illegally. But what difference does it make? If you just keep your eyes shut, the company will pay you, and you will get ahead." Thus, those who wanted to succeed just kept their mouths shut. The evil went on.

On the other hand, the person who has really come in contact with God is so concerned about righteousness that he will do everything in his power to create a righteous community, whether that righteous community is his family, his neighborhood, or his church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Seeking God


 

Matthew 7:1

The subject of judging often seems very difficult to grasp. Some use the term "judge" in a generalized way, making assertions such as, "We shouldn't judge one another." Is this true? If we took this to an extreme, we could make no evaluation of whether a person's conduct is acceptable to God, society, or ourselves. Such a totally non-judgmental atmosphere would generate such tolerance that it would be hazardous to life and limb. Nothing would be called into question. Nothing would be wrong.

God never intended any such thing when Jesus said, "Judge not that you be not judged." Again, if taken to an extreme, a person's example, whether good or bad, would have no power to influence behavior in others. Before determining whether we want to imitate or reject how another person acts, we must evaluate—judge—his conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Judgment, Tolerance, and Correction


 

1 Corinthians 5:1-6

The Corinthian church's coddling of this perversion gave the people of Corinth the appearance that God's people would allow this sin—a sin even unbelievers would never tolerate! Inside the church it gave the appearance that one could continue in sin and still remain part of the body. The apostle warns them that, just as a pinch of leaven will puff up a whole loaf of bread—or as one rotten apple will corrupt a whole barrel of them—so this sin, if allowed to continue, would ruin the entire church.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Abstaining From Evil


 

1 Corinthians 5:1-2

This sin was not just a one-time affair but one that was continuously occurring, and the Corinthians were allowing it to go on. Did the fornicator think that he was affecting the whole church by what he was doing, by living this "little lie"? Not at all.

This is in the Book for us to understand that every one of us has a responsibility, not only to God, but also to the Body of Christ. What we do and what we say—God clearly shows—is going to affect the efficiency, the effectiveness, and the purity of the whole church! What occurred in Corinth was confusing and dividing the congregation, jeopardizing the spiritual health of the entire congregation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Every Action Has a Reaction


 

1 Corinthians 5:2

The Corinthian congregation had serious problems with sexual sins, but instead of feeling terrible, people were "glorying" in it. They did not comprehend the slavery imposed by profligate lifestyles: broken marriages, ruined health, and alienation from God and man. They did not realize true liberty is in keeping the law.

Staff
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread


 

2 Peter 2:2-3

These ungodly people turn the church into a commercial operation. These are men of evil ambition; they are covetous. Their primary objective is success in argument, not truth. They make changes in order to exploit. This is the reason for the feigned words and the deceptive or phony arguments.

We in the United States, especially, have been conditioned to be tolerant. But, from what is written in II Peter 2 and Jude, it is clear that God is not tolerant of this kind of thing. We are tolerant because we have lost, or we never had, a sense of the diabolical danger of Satan's false teaching. It leads people to their deaths! As a nation, we have become dulled to the distinction between truth and falsehood, not only in terms of right and wrong in behavior, but also in terms of ideas or concepts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)


 

Revelation 2:4-5

The Ephesian church did have a problem. It was not in holding false teachers at arm's length, but in tending to become lax, to "drift with the tide," as it were, and this made them an easy target for false teachers. In this way, their weakness was, in a way, connected to their strength. They approached matters somewhat lackadaisically when times were fairly good, but when times became bad, they seemed to be able to stand up for the truth.

At certain times, their devotion to God's way left a lot to be desired. Just before the apostle John died in about AD 100, this was very much the case, and he really had to rouse them to get them back. From what we know from church history, by this time the membership of the true church was small and concentrated mostly around John in the church at Ephesus and some of the nearby towns in Asia Minor that he directly pastored.

Jude recognized the beginning of this drifting when he wrote in the mid-60s. All the apostles wrote similar things in their epistles: that the members of the church needed to get on the stick because false doctrines and false teachers were already in evidence among them and beginning to cause problems. If they did not root them out quickly, destruction would follow. The brethren were far too tolerant of divergent beliefs and practices, and Jude, especially, makes this point rather bluntly. He basically yells at them. Those who know Greek intimately say his language is very terse and sharp, and with it he lays in to them for being too tolerant of untruth.

His brother, Jesus, is more circumspect in His wording in Revelation 2:5. To paraphrase, he says, "I would rather that you were strong all the time. You need to go back and do the first works and remain strong so that these false teachers do not get a foothold in the church in the first place."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Revelation 2:14-16

God knows all and sees all. He can read the intents of the heart and understands our frame (Psalm 103:13-17). These people were faithful and held fast His name under trying circumstances and great temptations, but they also tolerated evil. He instructs them to repent or face "the sword of My mouth" (Hebrews 4:12-13). To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).

Staff
The Seven Churches: Pergamos


 

 




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