What happens when someone who has been struggling with sin, desires freedom, accountability, and godliness?
What happens when that sin is a sensitive subject that most people are deathly afraid of?
What happens when that sin is one of the top most secretive heart issues walking around in the Church? When it’s ugly? (Contagious even?) Scandalous??
Though every time that sin is an ancient temptation over which the Holy Spirit guarantees freedom, we certainly blunder our way through what to do…?!
To whom can a person turn if everyone who knows the Truth is afraid of her? What happens when the Church is afraid, shocked, cowardly, or uncaring towards the one who needs time, grace, and instruction? When we turn our backs on each other, the sinner begins to believe that the devil has her hands tied.
But he doesnâ€™t.
Scripture teaches us that â€œGod is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.â€ (1 Cor. 10:13). This escape is through our Savior Jesus â€“ our Wonderful Counselor â€“ and through the Holy Spirit â€“ who is our sure accountability when we listen to His promptings, warnings, and encouragements. But He often works the way of escape through people in the Church who simply must enter each otherâ€™s lives to encourage, bolster, redirect, and reconcile each other.
Perhaps taboo temptations inspired Paul to teach in his letter to the the Galations, â€œBrethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one anotherâ€™s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christâ€¦ as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.â€
Perhaps temptations like this inspired James to write, â€œBrethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 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.â€
There is an appropriate time when we must go after each other; let’s not always require others to figure out who would be a safe, strong, humble, restorative friend; let’s be that friend ourselves.
I used to think that Paulâ€™s and Jamesâ€™ instructions about “restoring the sinner” lent themselves to witch-hunting and misjudgment. But after todayâ€™s reflection, I can see that when led by the Holy Spirit, these teachings lend themselves to graciousness and rescue.