Summary: Instruction from the book of James on reclaiming a wayward believer.

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TEXT: James 5:19-20

19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

ETS: James emphasizes the importance of reclaiming wayward believers.

ESS: Christians should attempt to lead wayward believers to repent and return to the truth.

OSS: Christians will commit to reclaiming wayward believers.

PQ: What are we to do with fellow believers who go astray?

UW: truths

TITLE:#”Reclaiming the Backsliders” or “Getting the Backslider to Slide Forward”


Have you ever known someone who once served the Lord faithfully that chose a pathway of rebellion against the Lord? They now are almost as far away from Him as they can possibly be? What does the Word of God say about this issue?


A.It is possible for a believer to fall into theological error.

(2 Peter 3:17 )” You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; ”

(Proverbs 19:27 )Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

(2 Timothy 2:17-19)”And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.  Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

B. It is possible for a believer to fall into practical error.

(1 Timothy 1:19-20)” having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

The old hymn "Come, Thou Fount" was written by Robert Robinson when he was just twenty-three years old. The third verse contains a phrase, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love." Unfortunately, this phrase was prophetic for Robinson: in his later life, he lapsed into sin. While riding a stagecoach, Robinson heard a woman humming his hymn. She later engaged him in conversation and asked what he thought of the hymn. Overcome with emotion, he said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then." Since we are all "prone to wander" we need to hold each other up from the clutches of sin and the unhappiness of backsliding.

C. There is a process that is common in falling into error

1. Choosing to keep the wrong company

(1 Corinthians 15:33) Do not be eceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

2. A wayward thought that is entertained too long.

(James 1:15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death

3. A willful choice to stray from what you know is right.

(Psalm 119:118) You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, For their deceit is falsehood

4. A warping of beliefs to relieve a guilty conscience.

(1 Tim. 4:1-2) “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron”

(Titus 1:15) Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

5. A worldview change in which faith is rejected.

(Hebrews 3:12-13) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin


There are several things that must be done to reclaim the wayward believer:

A. Pray earnestly for the reclaiming of the wayward believer.

(Philippians 4:6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

(Ephesians 6:18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

B. Personally prepare for possible use by God.

1. Make sure you understand the scriptural teaching on the matter.

(2 Timothy 2:15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

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