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Friday, August 6, 2010

How Do You Restore Someone Who Has Sinned?

We have all sinned. Each sin was enough to condemn us to an eternity of hell. Yet, not all sins carry the same consequences here on earth. Telling your spouse a lie will not be the same as committing adultery. Coveting your bosses car will not be the same as stealing from your boss. Therefore, some sins will require the sinner more time than others for restoration.

Here are the steps I have seen that have brought people back to a full restoration of service for our Lord. These are necessary both for the one who has sinned and those who will work together with the sinner. Avoiding these steps will most likely result in the return of the sin.

Confrontation. The person must know that he has been exposed regardless if he realizes it because his sin brought to light through another person or by the Lord personally. He must know that he can no longer hide the sin. Hiding the sin or any part of it will result in committing this sin again.

Confession. This is not telling God something that He already knows. It is saying the things that God would say about the sin. It is saying that the sin was against Him even if it involved others. It is taking full responsibility in the heart- not just with the mouth. It is painful because of the realization of how this sin has hurt God as well as others. True confession should be made as large as the group it affects. It should not go before the whole church unless the whole church is involved. A pastor may need to confess something done publicly before the church. However, others would not unless it involved the whole church.

Repentance. This is turning completely around. It means being in a church each time the doors are open. It cannot be casual. A casual repentance is of no use. It is radical. It is consistent. It is real.

Consequences. Most people say that forgiveness means there are no consequences. They point to the woman caught in adultery. They are wrong. That woman had to go back to her husband. (Their culture said that a woman had to be married to commit adultery. It didn't matter if the man she was with was married or not.) Jesus told her to "sin no more." This would have been extremely hard for a woman whose sin was so publicly known. There were huge consequences for her sin. There will be consequences for all sins. It may mean that the person is asked to attend church somewhere else for a while. It may mean that the person is removed from places of service. It may mean that the person must reveal his whereabouts at all times. It may mean restoring what has been taken.

Commitment. Most people think that commitment should come after repentance. Surely, repentance is a commitment in itself. However, I have found that people readily make a commitment when caught in their sins. They forget these commitments in the middle of their consequences. It is after the consequences are administered that the person cries out that their punishment is too much. In other words, they are saying, "I am willing to take punishment as long as it doesn't hurt too much." There is no real confession or repentance if there is no commitment after the consequences.

Restoration. I would love to do this in a formalized form if anyone would ever let me. I would love to anoint the person with oil and declare they are restored. However, most people stop somewhere before they are restored. They often return to their old ways. They never get this far so that they are never truly restored. They go somewhere else where they can repeat their sins.  A restored person needs to know he has been restored.

Do you have someone whom you know is in a sin which carries major consequences? Restore him if you can.

Galatians 6:1 (NIV)
1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

(Yes, I know I used this scripture recently in a blog but the thought of restoring others is on my heart at this time. It is a totally different blog than before. The previous blog dealt more with my attitude. This one deals specifically with restoration.)

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