"THE EPISTLE OF JAMES" Restoring Straying Saints (5:19-20) INTRODUCTION 1. As James comes to the close of his epistle, he stresses the importance of restoring those who wander from the truth: 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. (James 5) 2. Restoring straying saints is a responsibility given to ALL who are truly the children of God - cf. Ga 6:1-2; 1Th 5:14 3. Yet, it is a responsibility that is so easy to neglect, and in most cases IS neglected! 4. The purpose of this lesson is two-fold: a. To impress upon our minds the importance of engaging in this work of restoring straying saints b. To suggest how we should carry out this important work [To appreciate the grave importance of restoring saints who have strayed, consider this question: "What is the condition of those who have wandered from the truth?"] I. THE CONDITION OF SAINTS WHO HAVE STRAYED FROM THE TRUTH A. AS DEFINED BY JAMES IN OUR TEXT... 1. They are in danger of DEATH! - Jm 5:20 2. One who has wandered from the truth has also wandered from the from the source of forgiveness - cf. 1Jn 1:6-7 3. Separated from the blood of Christ to cleanse him of his sins, he is in danger of suffering the consequences of sin: DEATH! - cf. Ro 6:23 B. AS DEPICTED BY PETER... 1. "the latter end is worse for them than the beginning"
- cf. 2Pe 2:20-22 2. That such a person is in danger of more serious punishment is stressed by Jesus in Lk 12:47-48 C. AS DESCRIBED IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS (He 10:26-31)... 1. "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" -- the blood of Christ is no longer available for him in this state! 2. "but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation" -- all that remains is to be eternally lost in hell! 3. "much worse punishment...will he be thought worthy" -- because such a person is trampling underfoot the Son of God, counting the blood of Jesus which had sanctified him a common thing, and is insulting the Spirit of grace! 4. "the LORD will judge His people" -- for those who despise His mercy, they will face His righteous indignation! D. AS DECLARED BY JESUS HIMSELF... 1. Such will be removed from His presence! - cf. Re 2:4-5 2. He will expel such from His presence! - cf. Re 3:15-16 [When we truly understand the spiritual condition of our friends and loved ones who have strayed from the truth, it should move us to do something! But how shall we carry out this responsibility?] II. RESTORING STRAYING SAINTS A. IT REQUIRES SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES... 1. PEOPLE WHO ARE SPIRITUAL - Ga 6:1 a. Those who are producing the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives - cf. Ga 5:22-23 b. Unqualified personnel need not apply for this work 1) They might best work on themselves first - Mt 7:3-4 2) Then they can help others - Mt 7:5 2. A SPIRIT OF GENTLENESS - Ga 6:1 a. We are engaged in delicate "soul surgery" b. This is not the time to misuse the "sword of the Spirit"! 3. A CONSTANT SENSE OF SELF-EXAMINATION - Ga 6:1 a. If we are not careful, we can easily fall into the same fault! b. As many do when they counsel those with marital problems without proper supervision 4. A WILLINGNESS TO BEAR ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS - Ga 6:2 a. Which involves an expense of time and energy to help the weak to overcome their faults b. Our responsibility is not fulfilled by simply pointing out our brother's faults! 5. HUMILITY a. This is implied in Ga 6:3 b. It is stated outright in 2Ti 2:24-26 c. People will not accept correction or advice coming from an arrogant person! d. In many cases, we may need to confess our own sin of negligence first! (for not coming sooner) 6. AMPLE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WORD - 2Ti 2:24 a. We must be able to teach and apply God's Word to the situation b. For it is important that they respond to GOD'S word, and not just to OUR views or opinions! 7. PATIENCE (longsuffering) - 2Ti 2:24 a. The same kind that we receive from God for our faults b. The same kind that Paul showed towards the church at Corinth - cf. 2Co 1:23-2:3 c. Of course, if repentance is not forthcoming, we can wait for only so long - cf. 2Co 13:1-2 8. A SINCERE DEMONSTRATION OF LOVE a. Both at the time of rebuke - cf. 2Co 2:4 b. And at the time of repentance - cf. 2Co 2:6-8 B. IT REQUIRES THE PROPER PROCEDURE... 1. The wrong procedures: a. Running around and talking to everyone but the person who needs to be corrected and restored! b. Preaching about these people from the pulpit at the very outset! c. Bringing it up at congregational business meetings at the very first! 2. The proper procedure is outlined by Jesus in Mt 18:15-17 a. Even though the sin may not be against you personally... 1) This is still a good way to avoid misunderstanding 2) This is still more likely to succeed b. Therefore... 1) Go to the person first 2) Then take others, if necessary 3) Then tell it to the church, if necessary 4) If he won't hear the church, withdraw any association that might appear to give approval to their behavior - cf. 1Co 5:1-13; 2Th 3:6-15; Ro 16:17 CONCLUSION 1. The work of restoring or correcting saints may be unpleasant at times, but it has the potential for great joy! a. Both in heaven: "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (Lk 15:7) b. And in our hearts: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 Jo 4) 2. It comes down to this... a. Do we really love God? b. Do we really love our straying brethren? c. Read 1Jn 3:16-19, and substitute "spiritual goods" for "world's goods" to answer our question Brethren, let us love one another!