Enabling Sinful Behavior

Table of Contents

  1. List of things that we might be enabling

  2. Who we might be enabling

  3. Helping vs. Enabling

  4. Why we might be enabling/the big confusion

  5. Complying to Enable

  6. The Devastating consequences of enabling

  7. A biblical lesson about enabling- Account of Jonah

  8. A biblical lesson of boundaries and their progression

  9. A message for those in dangerous situations

  10. Taking the Example of Wisdom

List of things that we might be Enabling;

  • Abusive/Wrathful Behaviors

  • Drug Addiction/ Alcoholism

  • Sexual Immorality

  • Gossip/Slander

  • Continual Wrong Choices Despite Advice Given

  • Other sinful behavior

Who We Might Be Enabling

  • A Spouse

  • A Family Member

  • A Child/Teen/ Adult child

  • A Friend

  • A Stranger

  • A Co-Worker

  • A Boss

  • A Brother or Sister in Christ

  • A Wolf (Terminology as used in the Bible)

  • Any Other Relationship

Helping vs. Enabling


There are times in life where personal loads become too heavy to bear. These are the times where God calls us to help a brother or sister lift their burden up. Examples of these times are but are not limited to, grief, death, and sickness.


Enabling someone happens when we get in the way of letting a person carry their own load, or reap the natural consequences to their irresponsible behavior.

It's important to differentiate Helping from Enabling because enabling someone is not helpful. When we do somebody's work for them, we stunt their growth. And when we keep others from reaping the consequences to their choices we prevent them from learning from their mistakes.

We need to walk circumspectly when we feel like we are being called to help. The best thing that we can do when someone asks for our help, is to steer away from giving a compulsive answer.

When your asked for help, practice asking questions about the situation and telling the person that you will get back to them with an answer. Meanwhile, pray and check to determine if you can meet their needs, and if helping them would be the right thing for you to do. If you can meet their needs and God says yes, then help them, and follow through with your yes. Matthew 5:37 says,

Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

But if God has shown you that you shouldn't help, then fear God and follow through with his instructions.

If God says no, God will give you the way to approach them. You can also say something like this:

"I would love to help you but I don't believe that helping you with this would benefit you. If I carry this load for you, or spare you from this consequence, I will become a stumbling block for your growth".


" I am not able to do what you have asked, because it is wrong. Take a look at what the scriptures say about this...."

You can also say if God has shown you to do something else for them:

"I am not able to help you with what you asked, but I know a place where you can get the help you need". Then follow through with pinpointing them in the right direction.

Why We Might Be Enabling Someone

"The Big Confusion"

Many people enable sinful behavior in the name of Love. Ultimately, the big confusion falls under a lack of understanding of what true biblical love is. It is important to look to God; who is the very source of Love, to define what love is. We can find God's definition of Love, throughout the entire Bible. When we do this, we see that under the umbrella of Biblical Love, Love falls into 2 broad categories:

Kindness & Forgiveness + Correction & Discipline = LOVE

Love is a balance of these 2 categories. Here is a balanced scale to illustrate this concept:

Note: The Holy Spirit is the person who teaches us the balance of Love in our lives.

When we are called to correct others, we need to be filled with the spirit. The Holy Spirit will then help us balance His uncompromising truths with a spirit of gentleness and respect.

Complying to Enable

As Christians we are at war with Evil. The Bible says in Ephisians 6:12,

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

When we do not stand against evil we are complying with evil, for our war is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6 & James 3:14-16).

Confronting a person who is being used as a tool of Satan is a loving thing to do; even Jesus had to reprimand one of his disciples (Matthew 4:10).

God wants to teach us to fear Him versus man, to set us free.

We are called to live peaceably with everyone as far as it depends on us, but when it comes to unity, we are to be united with Christ. Being united with Christ will automatically bring division in between us and the World. That is why Jesus says, in Matthew 12:30,

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

He also says in Matthew 10:32-39,

32“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35‘I have come to set a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.

36Your enemies will be right in your own household!’l

37“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

We acknowledge Jesus on earth when we publicly declare his truths as we confront people and their evil deeds. Verses 34-36 say that Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth but a sword in between families. This DOES NOT mean that we should kill people who disagree with our God, as some Muslim extremist do, when a person disagrees with their God. But what it does mean is that Friendship with the World is enmity with God (James 4:4). Serving Jesus automatically brings division in a family that is unequally yolked.

Serving Christ requires our devoted allegiance to Him. God wants our full allegiance to him so that he can heal us and fill us with his spirit. When we choose to fear man, we hurt ourselves, and others and slow down the process of healing and restoration God wants to give us.

An excellent example of a person who bore God's name but complied with Evil was Eli. Eli allowed his sons to do whatever they wanted without giving them any consequences. Thus, when God rendered a just judgement for the evil that Eli's sons had caused, Eli was also found guilty because he did not Ucerpt his authority and hold his children responsible for their behavior.

You can read Eli's story in the book of 1Samuel 1-3.

We will have times in our lives where we will be called to stand with God over our spouse, friends, and family. And due to our sinful nature we will also be at the receiving end of correction. There are those who will be restored as you stand with God, and there are those who will automatically become your enemy. We are NOT to be afraid of the consequences for doing the right thing (1Peter 3:14). However, we should be fearful of the consequences for not doing the right thing for we will always reap the consequences of what we sow and what we allow people to sow in our fields.

The Devastating Consequences of Enabling Sinful Behavior

Enabling Sinful Behavior brings destruction to ourselves and the person we are enabling through disorder. God is a God of order (1corinthians 14:33) who desires to organize our life, as we learn to walk with him. James 3:16 says,

For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

All sinful behavior has a root; selfish ambition. When we enable a person's sinful behavior, we are assisting and empowering their selfish ambition, this in turn WILL bring disorder and evil of every kind into our lives. Take a look at how God uses Genesis 1 to further illustrate this concept. Turn there in your Bible.

In verse 1 of Genesis 1, God created heaven and earth. Just as God created heaven and earth he created all human beings in his image. Our purpose is to represent him. But this does not happen unless we surrender to him.

In Verses 2-3, The earth is described as void and dark. This is an example of the void and darkness we feel before we surrender our lives to God.

In Verses, 3-4 God turns on the light and separates darkness from Light. This is exactly what happens in our life when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior. God also calls us to become separate. "For the Scriptures say, "You must be holy because I am holy." 1peter 1:16. The word Holy means to be separate. In other words, God calls us to separate ourselves from evil.

In Verses 5-25 God calls into existence the things that do not exist (Romans 4:17), and by the power of His word He organizes the world day by day. God also organizes our life day by day as we walk with him.

In Verses 26-27 God creates human Beings in his image; this is an example of how God works in the Christians life to bring about the image of Christ. Although all human beings are made in the image of God, it is not until God turns on the light and we surrender to Him, that we can reflect Gods character. Notice the order of events in this illustration. We must repent of our sin first, then separate from evil, walk with God daily, and allow him to order our lives so that we could reflect him. The reflection of Christ in us comes after we allow God to order our lives (Be patient, this a daily surrender).

In verses, 27-31 God tells his new creation to bear fruit and multiply, this is an encouragement to us, that when we let God order our lives we will bear much fruit for Him, and for our good.

The enemy's purpose is to distract us from bearing the righteous character of Christ and from the great commission.

Enabling someone is a distraction. And it interferes with Gods purpose and healing work in our:

  • Life

  • Marriage

  • Children

  • Family Members

  • The Body of Christ

  • The person Your Enabling

  • And Other People

I wrote more about this distraction, in a post called "Counterfeit Work".

A Biblical Lesson about Enabling Sinful Behavior:

Let’s learn a lesson from Jonah’s Account

RED: God’s Word

Black: Practical Explanation

Jonah: 1

The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” [First, we see that Jonah was given a command and an instruction by God. Like Jonah we are also given a command by God. Our command is to Love God and others. The Bible instructs us on how to do that.]

Vs.3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. [Secondly, we see that Jonah disobeyed the Lord. He sinned against the Lord hoping to get away with it. There are people just like Jonah, they know they are doing wrong but they willfully disobey God or the law, and then look for ways to get away with it.]

Vs.4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. [Thirdly, we see that Jonah sinned against God, and consequently affected others. However, God in his loving kindness did not let Jonah get away with his disobedience. God created the law of sowing and reaping, before the foundations of the world were established. This law of sowing and reaping is in place for a person to learn from their mistakes. When we get in the way of these natural consequences, we also pay the penalty for being disobedient to God.]

Vs.5-6But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” [Moreover, we see that Jonah was sound asleep, while others were throwing their cargo away. When we enable someone that is unrepentant, we are throwing our pearls before pigs (Matthew 7:6). We often end up paying the consequences of their sin, while they are sound asleep, hardened, untouched, unaware, and untroubled by the storm that might be raging over our lives, due to their disobedience.]

Vs.7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” [Jonah could have had time to confess his sin while the crew cast lots, but Jonah continued to be unrepentant, and hardened towards God. Moreover, he remained unconcerned towards the sailors who were suffering on his behalf.]

Vs. 9-11 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” [Here we see God's correction through the unbelieving sailors. We also see that God used the sailors to confront Jonah's sin. Confrontation done the correct way exposes the lies of the enemy.]

Vs. 12“Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” [This verse shows us the importance of confrontation. Hence, that Jonah knew that the storm was his fault when he was approached about it the first time, but he wasn't willing to admit it until he was confronted about his evil actions.]

Vs. 13-14 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it.14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” [Here we see that even though Jonah admitted his fault, and was willing to pay the price for his disobedience, he had to be thrown over to face his consequences. The Bible says that physical discipline cleanses away evil (proverbs 20:30). We might be repentant and even express remorse for our behavior, but its not until are thrown over into the storm we created that we learn our lesson. We also see that the sailors tried to keep Jonah from the consequence and correction God wanted to give him, so they were also counted as disobidient to God.]

Vs. 15-16 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. [Finally the sailors realized that this problem was between God and Jonah, and they needed to get out of the way so that God could deal with Jonah. We also learn that God is a good God, and he will use bad situations in our life for our good, because we love and obey Him (Romans 8:28).]

Vs.17 [a]Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. [ Here we see that God is a God of perfect planning and timing. He had already prepared for a great fish to swallow Jonah. God in his sovereignty had already determined the ideal circumstance to turn Jonah's heart back to His.

In chapter 2 of Jonah, we see that Jonah repents and does God's will. In chapter 3 of Jonah, we see that Jonah had another disagreement with God. However, we could only speculate what was going on in Jonah’s heart. What we do know is that God knew the perfect consequence to Jonah's behavior. And although the sailors thought that God's consequence was too harsh, God knew exactly what Jonah needed to repent of his sin. And we know that Jonah repented because He carried out God's will. Repentance is a change of heart. When a person repents, they turn from their evil ways. We are to abstain from standing in the way of the natural consequences God has set in His world to correct people, lest we are also found guilty of disobeying God and interfering with someone else's repentance. Let us learn from this account and not be part of delaying God’s plan of correction in someone else's life!

A Biblical Lesson on Boundaries and their Progression

The book of Proverbs is filled with advice on boundaries. I suggest reading the book of Proverbs and prayerfully asking God to show you what boundaries you should place on the relationship you're struggling with. He will be faithful to show you. Here is a lesson on boundaries and their progression from Matthew 18:15-17

Matthew 18:15-17

15“If another believerd sins against you,e go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.16But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

1st step The first thing that God tells us to do if someone sins against us is to confront the person privately. We know from other passages in the Bible that we must confront people with respect and with a spirit of Gentleness. This does not mean that you’re going to take away from the Truth, but that you will speak the truth in Love. Abstain from personally attacking a person when you correct them.

2nd Step Confront the person with respect in the midst of 2-3 wise brothers or sisters, who are mature in their walk with Christ; brethren who can keep the matter confidential, and who can restrain themselves from judging the other person.

3rd Step

Bring the matter to the church. This does not mean you will tell everyone in your church about the problem you have with another brother or sister, doing that would fall under the category of gossiping. What this means is that you will approach your pastor or an authority figure about your situation. They will then decide if disciplinary action needs to be taken. 4th Step

Treat the person as a tax collector or a heathen: this means that you need to draw a line between yourself and the person who is sinning against you. I would suggest reading the book of proverbs and correctly implementing how to deal with a fool or a mocker. Keep in mind, that you must balance these scriptures in Proverbs with other scriptures like Romans 12; which commands us to leave room for God's judgment and love our enemies instead.

*Other than reading the Book of Proverbs, I STRONGLY recommed reading a book called "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

A Message to Those in Dangerous Situations:

The Lord has given us public authorities for protection. If you are in a dangerous situation, seek out help immediately. I advise that you meet with a pastor or a councelor, who is trained to deal with these types of problems, and DO NOT hesitate to involve public authorities.

Romans 13:4

The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.

If you want to seek reconciliation with a former abuser, do so wisely by remaining separate from that person while they work on themselves, and gain your trust. I do not advise anyone to reconcile with an abusive person without intervention. Abuse Victims need support and time to heal. Abusers need confrontation, consequences and time to change. It is foolish to re-establish a relationship with an abusive person who has been spared of the consequences to their behavior.

Taking the Example of Wisdom

When it comes to enabling sin, take an example from wisdom, take a look at what Proverbs 20-33 says:

Proverbs 20-33

20Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. 21 She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: 22 “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? 23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.

24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. 25 You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. 26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.

28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. 29 For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord. 30 They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. 31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. 32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. 33 But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”

#Enabling #ToxicRelationships

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