Remember Satan is a deceiver and like a lion hunting a herd of animals, will trick and separate a struggling and weak member from the group and pounce on them. So Peter warns us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” [1 Peter 5:8].
Also Hebrews 3:13 states, “…but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Our best defense and safety is in close constant fellowship within the local church. Apart from the “herd” a believer is vulnerable to spiritual defeat.
The apostle Paul covers this principle in Galatians proving there was a great need of training for the disciples even 2000 years ago. And sorry to say, we have not learned much in our day. One good program that many churches are using is Rick Warren’s Celebrate Recovery which is a biblical and balanced program that helps people overcome their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. It is based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory. This is the focus of full restoration.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.“ Galatians 6:1-10
When we speak of restoring a believer we are not talking about helping them to be born again—again! When you are truly converted you do not lose your salvation and have to get it again. What we are concerned about is the spiritually young, sickly, or wounded sheep that need mending. All the realities of the fruit of the Spirit are cut off from a sinning believer, so they need the joy of their relationship with God restored.
Therefore, we must have a plan of action to help a wounded or wandering sheep. Use these six steps to help others.
1/ Restoration is a process not a one-time confrontation. [Verses 1-2]
1/ Sometimes, new believers misunderstand what God wants and a simple Bible study will strengthen and move them to the narrow way. Acts 18:26 “So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
2/ But often the deception of the enemy has lodged more deeply into the wayward one, and the church must firmly confront and admonish him. 2 Thes. 3:14-15 makes this command, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Trying to make a person ashamed is unpopular today. You will get a harsh response from the world and most Christians for even thinking of obeying God in this way. But so many claim the name of Jesus and shamelessly sin, and then have the guts to demand acceptance by the spiritual leaders of the local church. Please trust God that He knows what He is doing, obey His Word and trust the Holy Spirit to use you to bring conviction and restoration.
3/ If they will not listen to gentle but firm warnings, further steps must be taken. 1 Cor. 5:1-5: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
“For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Remember God is not mocked, and the church must act when members are sinning. If they are hypocrites, they need to be removed and not dirty God’s name. If they truly are believers this is the first tough-love step of restoration. The real Christian will fall under conviction and repent.
The phony will be content to live on in sin and be bitter toward the believers who try to restore him. 1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
4/ Then the restorers of the breach must begin their work. 2 Cor. 2:6-11 “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
2/ When a believer sins against you, follow Matthew 18. [verses 1-2]
1/ Matthew 18:15-22 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
2/ “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'”
3/ “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.”
4/ “But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
5/ “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”
The normal person wants revenge when they are offended by someone. But, the Lord directs His narrow road followers to so love their enemies that they always privately speak to the one that sins against them. Remember this is personal, and dealing with intentional offenses, not a difference of opinion or taste. But, when sin is involved God demands all of us to not tolerate or ignore the sin, but lovingly confront and bring resolution by involving as many people as necessary. Sin must be repented of, not allowed to spread and poison others.
3/ When a leader needs correction make sure there are two or three witnesses first. [Verses 1-2]
1 Tim. 5:19 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” There is a great temptation on many modern day believers to crucify their pastor on the word of an accuser. Scripture is very clear, a leader is innocent until proven guilty by at least two unrelated witnesses who saw him doing wrong.
When that is true, scripture teaches, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” 1 Tim. 5:20. Obviously, leaders are to be restored not fired, unless their sin is so shameful their presence would destroy the testimony of the church.
4/ Learn the warning signs to spiritual deception and failure. [Verses 7-8]
1/ Believers who keep changing churches and doctrines are in spiritual danger. Ephes. 4:14 “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,…”
Today many church people float from church to church, from one form of doctrine to another as they change churches. The confusion of fragmented scripture information leads to a misunderstanding of God’s Word, and spiritual consequences. This whole group of people are in danger of Satanic attack.
2/ Next, believers who do not make daily obedience a priority are in grave danger. 2 Tim. 3:6 “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,…”
Spiritually inactive people who fill their heads with things like soap operas, immoral reality shows, supposed adult rated entertainment, fantasies and desires of better lives are in great danger. And believers who do not make an effort to daily confess and turn from sins are in danger of spiritual shipwreck. Paul warned us in1 Tim. 1:19, “…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,…”
5/ Restoration demands that we help hold them up until they can walk again by themselves. [Verse 2]
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” It gets messy to be involved with defeated and hurting people. Crushed and hopeless people are broken and needing long-lasting care and tough love. Many failures and restarts have to happen for so many in our day.
To bear means to put your should under the weight of those defeated and relieve the pressure. Hold them up! This is what Christ commanded when He explained to all His followers how to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The investment of time, money, and personal involvement proves our love for Christ.
6/ Restoration may take years [ex. drug and alcohol abusers], so do not grow weary while doing good works. [Verse 9]
1 Cor. 13:8 “Love never fails.” Time always tests our commitment to love God by loving one another. But remember our focus and priority is to “especially” do good to the Christian because God is at work with His mighty Holy Spirit, empowering and building new desires in them to live in freedom from evil.
But the wicked cannot be changed through your love or willpower, they must be born again to have the mercy and grace of Jesus to become a new creation. If God is not at work in them, you must leave them in God’s hands, you are not greater than God, nor more loving then He is.
Jesus let the rich young ruler leave, He did not force him into rehab. Find out what God wants you to do, then do it. Come on, you do not force little old ladies across the street when they are not ready to go.