It is a glorious truth that God accepts us just as we are. Whoever we are, whatever we have done. We could never come any other way, for no-one is ever ‘good enough for God’.
This, as I say, is a glorious, essential, inescapable, truth.
But it is not the whole truth. In fact, by itself, it is a dangerous half-truth.
One half of the truth is to say that God meets us where we are, and the other half is to recognise that he does not leave us there. We are saved from our sins, not in our sins.
When God a person to himself, he calls that person from his previous ungodly life. Acceptance by God ‘means that he fully and freely forgives all who repent and believe, not that he condones our continuance in sin.’ Our Lord was indeed known as ‘the friend of sinners’. But it was precisely such that called ‘to repentance’. The Lord Jesus ‘welcomes us in order to redeem and transform us, not to leave us alone in our sins.’
In the same way, Christians are to accept others just as they are. After all, who are we to judge others (Rom 14:1ff; 15:7)? But we accept one another ‘only as fellow penitents and fellow pilgrims, not as fellow sinners who are resolved to persist in sinning.’
Let’s work out how we can ‘welcome the sinner’ without ‘affirming the sin’.
Based on, and quoting from, Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today, 4th ed., p469f.