Summary: What do we do with the brother or sister who brings reproach on the church disgraces us by their sinful behavior?
RESTORING FALLEN CHRISTIANS - The Ministry of Reconciliation
Full text of sermon by Jim B. Miller, teaching pastor, Old Town Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Nacogdoches TX, email@example.com.
INTRODUCTION. In this great spiritual war we are fighting, there will always be casualties. From time to time, Satan’s fiery darts will sometimes pierce a brother’s armor and wound him. Some, including even our respected leaders, may fall into scandalous adultrous affair or some other shameful public disgrace, others may be arrested for crimes, yet others become pregnant out of wedlock, still others may sue divorce and break up marriages and homes. What do we do with these people, especially those who bring such reproach on the church and the cause of Christ?
Frankly, sometimes Christians fall into sin. This is an unchangable fact. Thankfully, it is the exception and not the rule. But it happens. Temptation, like a typhoon, can sweep a weak believer off his feet and send him tumbling. When this happens, what are the rest of us do?
A. Here is the Apostle’s advice, Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another’s load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself. (Galatians 6.1-3, Amplified)
B. Elsewhere he wrote, But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]. (2 Corinthians 5.18, Amplified)
C. We are to restore the fallen brother. We are to reconcile him to God and to the church. We are to help him back on his feet again. This discipline is both personal and corporate . . . the individual has a responsibility as does the entire church. We are commanded to help the brother up. This is restoration.
I. WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN A BROTHER FALLS
Restoring another Christian is a demanding responsibility; it’s a touchy task. How will the person respond? Will they blow up at me? Is the whole thing merely a rumor that I should ignore? It’s none of our business anyway, is it? It is indeed our responsibility. God wants to restore the fallen one, and he chooses to use us as his helpers/restorers. The responsibility for restoration lies squarely on the shoulders of other Christians. Yet because of misunderstanding, fear, and lack of training, we often sidestep this command. Instead we bypass the whole issue when faced with another’s sin. We must avoid these popular "cop outs."
A. We should not diminish the seriousness of the sin.
1. Excusing sin as typical or common doesn’t help. "After all, he’s only human," we say, apparently believing it is simply natural for Christians to fall into sin. We cannot afford tp use the guise of "loving the sinner" to completely ignore the directives of Scripture. Of course, we must love the sinner, even when he is a fallen brother, but for our sake -- and for our fallen brother’s sake -- we cannot afford to dismiss sin with a trivial remark about humanity, treating sin as inconsequential. Jesus told one sinner "Neither do I condemn you," but He quickly added "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11).
2. Sin, sometimes characterized as leaven, has a pervasive influence on others. It can be contagious. We are called to restore our fallen brother, not merely excuse him. Rationalizing sin by justifying it as merely human error skirts the whole issue, ignores God’s command to restore the fallen, and gives the would-be restorer an "easy out" from a tough task.
B.. We must avoid the temptation to witch-hunt.
1. The trouble with this discipline -- and it is a discipline -- of restoring a brother is that those least likely to do it are the best for the job and those most likely to lightheartedly greet the idea of restoring another are the worst ones to do it. In most churches there are a few people who would love the idea of signing up for "search and destroy" missions to uncover and correct the sins of others. They feel that they are experts at exposing and condemning sin.