How can a Christian help reach out to another Christian who is living in sin? What ways would you suggest?
Pray for God’s Conviction
The Holy Spirit is the most powerful way for Christian who is sinning to be convicted. We are not the Holy Spirit so we must be careful to not be the one who convicts them, but John does tell us “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death” (1 John 5:16). Here John tells us precisely what to do “if [we] see any brother or sister commit a sin” he says that we “should pray and God will give them life.” Sometimes just leaving it in God’s hands and praying for Him to do the convicting through the Spirit may be all that’s needed.
Paul defines for us when it’s time for us to intervene by writing “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them” (Titus 3:10). Jesus adds “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matt 18:15). Here Jesus says to warn them privately but if this doesn’t’ work, take another person with you and if that still doesn’t work, it should be brought before the church but it must be a sin that is serious enough to bring before the church (Matt 18:16-17). Causing division in the church would be one of those reasons because God detests those who cause division in the Body of Christ. Peter warns us that “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning” (2 Pet 2:20). They should be made aware of that.
Speak to them in Love
Galatians 6:1 is clear that “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” This restoration must include words of course but it must be done “in a spirit of gentleness” because we too can “be tempted” so we must not approach a sinning brother or sister in Christ in a self-righteous way. We can tell them that we understand how this can happen and that we ourselves are still striving to live a life that is pleasing to God and that we too fall short of God’s glory. Say this but still confront them with a sin if it is serious enough to confront them over because “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6) and “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue” (Prov 28:23) so the most loving thing we can do is to rebuke a sinner and if we don’t, we are not showing the love of God for in love God disciplines every child of His (Heb 12:6; Prov 3:12).
If we go to a brother or sister in Christ, let us first be sure to pray about it. Is it a serious sin or is it something that they are doing that just irritates us and is a non-essential and not precisely a sin mentioned in the Bible. If it truly is a sin, first pray for God’s Spirit to convict them, then warn then, and finally speak the truth to them in love. Wouldn’t we want them to do the same for us?
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman[ssba]
image source: CC BY Forrect Cavale