—Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NASB)
Man, I’ve seen real-life examples of both of these observations. Aside from spiritual examples there are repeated historical examples of a smaller, ill-equipped force fending off and even defeating a much stronger one simply by the smaller side’s ability to more accurately assess the situation and devise the correct response. But the greatest spiritual damage that I’ve witnessed repeatedly within the walls of the church has most often been initiated by only “one sinner“.
—Galatians 5:9 (NASB)
Throughout Scripture leaven represents both sin and false teaching. It doesn’t take much to permeate the whole loaf. Time and again I’ve seen a church’s problems traced back to a starting point consisting of just one person engaged in personal sin or propagating false doctrine. It’s contagious. And the reason it spreads so thoroughly is that it encourages others to stop focusing on the need for personal repentance and instead pursue something according to their own wants and desires. One sin or false teaching begets many others.
This is why as individuals we need to speak up whenever sin presents itself to us. I’m not talking about going on an organized witch hunt leading to a full-scale inquisition, but simply having the basic integrity to speak the truth when it makes its first appearance. When we fail to do so, the consequences aren’t limited to just the sinner because it begins to infect the rest of the congregation. We are members of the BODY of Christ, and when an infection takes hold even in a part of the body we don’t happen to personally occupy, we all bear the consequences of the pain and ensuing sickness which eventually consumes every part.†††