The Sin of Silence
"When I say to the wicked, You shall surely die, and you give him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul." Ezekiel 3:18-19
The sin of remaining silent when we should be telling the world what Christ has done for us is a great transgression. The only way for the gospel to be carried to the sinner is through our actions and words, for we are God's chosen means of expressing Himself. We know that the message of salvation - the greatest news the world has ever heard - is in the hands of God; yet, it has always pleased God to use His people as His mouthpiece, and He will continue to do so, no doubt. Every true witness for Christ gives at least some assistance in this gigantic task.
Is it not a sin for us to refuse to speak up and warn unbelievers of the wrath of God which will surely come upon this world of darkness? Can we be right with God and say nothing against the present evils, though they be among our relatives, classmates, and associates?
Still, there are many who are keeping the good news to themselves. They may fear the reaction which the word of God often draws from those who refuse it. Or, they may not want to be branded as different from others. To state it plainly, they desire to be like the world instead of like Jesus. But the world expects us to speak out against wrong; let's not disappoint both the world and our God by committing the sin of silence.
There is an axiom that "silence gives consent." This is true in the case of believers who refuse to openly and audibly denounce sin. In the Bible, we read that at the stoning of Stephen, Paul, as a young man, "was consenting unto his death" (Acts 8:1). But how did he consent to that cruel injustice? We are told that those who stoned Stephen "laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul [Paul's earlier name]." As far as we know, young Paul never said a word at Stephen's execution; still, he was as guilty of that crime against Christ as any who threw a stone.
My reader, can't you see the danger in making no utterance against wrong? Oh, that sin of silence, when God would have us to speak up, speak out, and influence others!
God does not communicate truth for it to be buried but to be passed on to others. Can you imagine Andrew not telling his brother Peter that he had found the Messiah? Think what it would have meant, had the disciples kept quiet about the resurrection of Christ. But when Peter and John were commanded by the rulers of the Jews not to speak any more about Jesus, they said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).
There was only one Judas Iscariot; at the same time, there were many, young and old, who silently lined the streets of Jerusalem, watching Jesus struggle with the burden of the cross. During the trial of our Lord, thousands of people knew there was a great injustice taking place before their very eyes, but they did not speak out against it. Think how few rose up in protest, and ask yourself this question, "What would I have done, had I been there?" We can only answer that question by answering this one: "What am I doing about it now?" I hope, dear Reader, that you are not letting Christ be crucified anew because of an habitual disinclination to speak out against wrong and make a stand for that which is right and just.
Jesus, in speaking of repentance and remission of sins, told his followers, "You are witnesses of these things" (Lk. 24:48). Reader, have you told someone about the way of life today? Yesterday? How about the day before? Unless we are daily testifying of our blessed Savior, we are poor witnesses for the cause of Christ.
"We are not all called to tell the world about Christ," someone has said. This has been a common protest among many silent believers. And yes, we all know that God gives to some the specific task of preaching the gospel to unbelieving multitudes. However, this does not excuse believers who do not have that calling from the responsibility to be witnesses of the grace of God in their lives. Every child of God will find, sooner or later, that he or she must speak up and be a faithful witness, or be a failure in the faith he represents. A true believer is a witness of Jesus Christ. No one is exempt from that calling.
The saints who lived immediately following the resurrection and ascension of our Lord were effective as witnesses, for they were driven with an inner compulsion to go out and bestir the people by introducing them to the living Word of God. Within a few years, they came to be known as people who "turned the world upside down."
Paul charged the elders of Ephesus, "Watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one, night and day, with tears" (Acts 20:31). Child of God, let's take this statement of Paul's and make it our own, bearing in mind the words of the Psalmist (126:5): "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Those glorious words have comforted the hearts of earth-weary saints from that day until now. And may I say, if we are hoping for a good reaping, we had better be serious enough to start shedding a few tears to moisten the seeds we are sowing. Our words seem to penetrate the heart more deeply when sprinkled by drops of sincerity and compassion. The Psalmist (126:6) portrayed this beautifully when he said, "He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
My brother, my sister, we have the priceless privilege of testifying to the world about Jesus, and our testimonies are the means by which we overcome the wicked forces which confront us in this world (Rev. 12:10-11). This warfare is a battle to the death. There are no stalemates. Either you overcome the world or you will be overcome by it. But be of good cheer. The One who called us has overcome the world and has given us His strength with which to subdue the powers of darkness.
Now I commend you, my friends, "unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."