Galatians 6:1 NIV
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”
Caught in Sin
This is speaking of a fellow Christian being caught in (discovered, seen committing) a sin, and/or it is speaking of him/her being overtaken (hit, overwhelmed, conquered) by a sin, perhaps by surprise, and perhaps not. Perhaps this was due to negligence to put up proper safeguards.
This could be speaking, too, of not just a singular incident, for the word “overtaken” can also mean that the person has been beaten down and defeated by a particular sin, because he/she did not resist the sin, and then he/she gave in to it again, and perhaps again.
So, those of us who are walking according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, should restore such a one gently.
Restoring One Gently
So, how do we do this? Well, let me say up front that females should talk with females, and males with males, unless there is same sex attraction, and unless the sin is against one’s marital partner, and then the marital partner can confront his/her spouse and attempt to restore him/her.
So, what does it mean to “restore” the person caught (or trapped) in sin? Well, I can tell you that it doesn’t mean to ignore the sin, or to minimize it, or to excuse it away, or to just give the person a consolatory pat on the back to let him/her know that everything is okay.
Jesus is our example in how to restore those caught in sin back to not being under the influence of sin. He taught repentance, which is not worldly sorrow for sin or for getting caught in sin, but it means a turn-a-bout. So, this means we show them the way out of their sin.
When Jesus died on that cross for our sins it was not just to forgive us our sins and to take away the punishment of sin from us, but it was to deliver us from our slavery (addiction) to sin and to empower us to live godly, upright, holy, and self-controlled lives (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14).
So, if we are going to restore a brother or sister after he/she has been caught in or overtaken by sin, then we need to counsel him/her in how to not go down that path again, in how to resist Satan, and in how to put on the armor of God so that he/she can walk in freedom from sin.
But we are to do this gently. And this means that we aren’t to be harsh and condemning, but that we are to be kind and forgiving and to show them the way out of their sin and how to walk in holiness and righteousness.
A Word of Caution
But let me add a note of caution here. Many people are professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in sin deliberately, defiantly, and even premeditatedly. And some of them are convinced that God is okay with that because they believe, via God’s grace, that he can no longer see their sin.
We will have to be much stronger in our approach with them than we would be with those who do not make sin their practice, but who fell into sin and they just need someone to help lift them out. With those who think they can continue in sin and it not impact their eternal life, we will have to speak the truth with power and with the authority of God’s word, but in love.
But, from my experience, most people who are engaged in deliberate sinful addictive behaviors are not going to listen to the truth, or if they do, most of them will continue on in their habitual sin and will lie to cover it up and/or will make excuses for why they are still trapped in sin. And it will end in death for them, not life everlasting (Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Galatians 6:1-2 NIV
“But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Especially if we are dealing with people who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are willfully, deliberately, and defiantly continuing in their sin, we will have to watch ourselves, not only so that we aren’t tempted to join them in their debauchery, but so that we don’t get tripped up by their lies and tricks.
Many of these people are masters at deception and trickery, they are very skilled actors, and they may, if you try to help them, turn against you, and accuse you falsely of what you did not do, or they may try to destroy your reputation with others, for many of them are known for retaliation.
Yet, as a general rule with anyone caught in sin who we might attempt to restore, we need to be guarded against temptation to sin or we might get pulled under with him/her, just like what happens sometimes when someone tries to rescue a drowning person. So, we need to be wise in how we approach the one caught in sin.
Galatians 6:3-5 NIV
“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
In approaching someone caught in sin, in order to restore that person, we must be humble. We, too, are susceptible to sin or else we would not be given this caution here to watch ourselves, or we also may be tempted. So, we need to take heed if we think we are standing, lest we fall.
We need to not only test our own actions, but we need to also test our attitudes and our intentions, too, for it is possible to try to help someone but to do it with the wrong attitude or with false motives. So, it is good for us to test our own hearts before we approach someone caught in sin.
But let me add a word of caution here, too. There are many people who claim faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in sin, and who think that God is okay with that. So, if you approach them with the truth of God’s word regarding the subjects of sin, repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord, you may get accused of being legalistic or judgmental.
If you have tested your own heart, though, and you know your heart is in the right place, and you know you are being gentle (exercising controlled strength in the power of God’s Spirit), don’t let their accusations against you deter you from speaking the truth of God’s word. For they need to hear the truth which can set them free if they will believe it and obey.
So, don’t let them convince you that you are egotistical or self-righteous or judgmental just because you believe the truth of the gospel and you are sharing it with others so that they can be free from their sin. Keep on sharing the truth. Share it in love. But don’t buckle to persecution.
Open My Heart
An Original Work / July 2, 2013
“Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (Rm. 16:19b).
Open my heart. Let Your truth in.
Make of me a servant, pure within;
Sing of Your praise all of my days.
Let Your Spirit transform all my ways.
Jesus Christ died on a cross to
Save me from my sin.
“Repent of sin. Be cleansed within.
Obey all of His commands today.”
“Why do you doubt? Why do you fear?
Jesus Christ will wipe away your tears.
He cares for you. He feels your pain.
Die to sin, and life with Him you’ll gain.
Follow Him where’er He leads you.
Talk with Him each day.
Then you will know what He has planned
For your life before your world began.”
“Come unto Me, weary in heart.
Let My love and grace to you impart.
Believe in Me. Trust in My care.
Take your burdens to the Lord in prayer.
He will meet all of your needs,
And give you peace within.
Rejoice in Him! Tell of His love.
He will give you comfort from above.”