Oct 16 2022 How to Correct a Believer
16th October 2022
A question has come up in our after-church discussions.
The time will come when we need to address sin in another’s life. How do we approach someone in sin?
Galatians 6: 1 Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.
CAUGHT – has 2 meanings – it might mean that you caught someone doing something wrong. That is the lesser of the meanings. Most would say the person is ‘caught in a trap’ – like a fish in a net.
That is most likely what Paul is saying here. When we find someone who is caught, how do we approach them.
When we think of sin, we think of someone doing something wrong. That is a big part of it – but it is not all of it.
I sent out the Bible Project videos – there are three of them there regarding sin – and it is a much bigger subject than doing something wrong.
Sin is also an ENTITY – a spiritual power of evil.
In that video, they talked about Cain’s sacrifice not being accepted – God came to him and said, if you do well… but if not… sin is crouching at the door, ready to pounce.
When I was coming over here on Wednesday, I was thinking about this – and the neighbor cat ‘Tux’ was in the back of my driveway – I was hoping I wouldn’t run over it – and the cat was crouching – and I wondered what he was looking at and he pounced toward a squirrel who quickly climbed a tree (and ‘Tux’ was embarrassed because I was watching.
Paul is not telling us how to address the world for being sinners. The New Testament addresses that very little – whenever it talks about sin, it is mostly about BELIEVERS. The reason this is important – before we can properly help someone else, we – all of us – at some time, will be caught in that trap – caught in a net. And we have to have that attitude. It happens in many ways and for various reasons.
We need to have some understanding of those ways and reasons if we are to guard against them.
This will help us in approaching others when we understand this about ourselves.
We are susceptible to being caught in a net when we are under stress or pressure. When we find ourselves in that situation – if we are not understanding the pressure – well, plumbers say that pressure bursts pipes. And what happens with us – we tend to fall into old patterns that lead into sin.
It can be anything from binging on food or Netflix, giving into lust or anger – recognize old patterns. Learn to monitor your spiritual condition and recognize what triggers you.
I need to monitor my own life -and recognize when I’m likely to be trapped.
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Proverbs talks about the young man passing by the harlot’s house. And ‘suddenly’ turns in.
Neglecting important relationships – especially with God and the people important in our lives.
In the context of Galatians – when we are not walking in the Spirit – we are in danger. If we walk in the spirit, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh. You cannot be walking in the Spirit – with your mind set on the Spirit – and be caught.
What I have found – when I am trapped in sin – I don’t know how I got there and I don’t know how to get out. Paul felt the same way:
I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (Rom 7:15 NLT)
All of us feel like this at some time. Maybe many times.
These are good Christian people who want to do the right thing – who hope to do the right thing -and yet they (we) don’t.
This will help us to have compassion and give grace to others. If someone is caught – to be able to say – that person is probably like Paul – wanting to do the right thing and not doing it.
‘Caught’ -there is a difference between being caught in a sin or making a mistake – or saying something briefly that we shouldn’t. Some people think they have the gift of reproof – and I’m not sure that is in the Bible – so there needs to be a balance – “they offended me, but I’m good with it”
With that – let us go back to Galatians 1
Galatians 6: 1 Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person
If you are not walking in the Spirit – don’t go. If you are not producing the fruit of the Spirit – don’t go. You don’t have to be perfect – but you need to look at your life and ask – is my heart right with God and this person. IF my heart is not right, I must deal with me first.
you who are spiritual restore such a person
We go with the attitude of restoration – to mend, heal, lift up someone who has fallen down or to help someone back to the path. That is really different than pointing out how awful you are.
Last week – “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” – when we go to someone, we need to go as a healer, not as a police officer or prosecutor.
Step 3 -
you who are spiritual restore such a person
in a spirit of gentleness.
If we are not able to be gentle, we are not walking in the Spirit. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Gentleness means mild (as opposed to spicy) – pleasant, considerate and showing leniency.
The Greek word –
Laws should be strict; Judges should be lenient! Lenient is the word gentleness.
We might think of soft or weak, but it is a sign of strength that accommodates to others’ weaknesses. The gentle person is strong, but recognizes weaknesses and accommodates themselves to that.
Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.
Gentleness is often connected with humility and patience. That could be you – don’t go until you realize that. And then go with that attitude. We cannot approach another in gentleness if we don’t recognize our own weaknesses and failures.
Matthew 7: 3 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
A couple weeks ago, we talked about judging -and these are the verses before that.
To find a speck in another’s eye – what does it take? How often do you do that? It takes some intense scrutiny! It is literally a piece of dust! IN the contexts of judging and condemning – it is about people who are continually looking for flaws in others in order to judge and condemn them. It is so easy to see small things in others’ lives, and miss big things in our own.
Most of us have a hard time believing that we have a log! We look at others and say – they are so wrong! But is it possible that you have a log?
If you are judging – you have a log in your eye.
Galatians 6: 2 Carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
We don’t judge or condemn, we carry. We carry them, we walk with them until they can walk on their own. We are not just going to point out their flaw or failure, we are going to walk with them until they are no longer caught and can walk on their own.
If you are not willing to do that – don’t bother!
3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Pride and arrogance lie at the heart of judging and condemning.
4 Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. 5 For each one will carry his own load.
Sometimes we just need to examine ourselves more.
The goal is to restore and repair.
One other verse –
Paul talks about the character and demeanor of the person who is qualified to correct and instruct.
2 Tim. 2: 24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,
First – we are servants. Bond-servant: the lord’s slave. We are pretty low – we are a slave. Yes, we’re the Lord’s slave – but it is showing humility and lowness in the right way.
We are not the expert – we are not the one who has it all together – we are not the perfect, but a servant.
Next – not quarrelsome – “fighting with words” – I like that. We are not to be that way, but we love to fight with words. As Christians, we know not to fight – so we are really ‘good’ at fighting with words!
There is no room for that in the Bible for fighting with words.
but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition,
No fighting with words with your enemies – love and pray for them.
Able to teach patiently when wronged – to endure evil without resentment and anger. That is a lost art. But it is the heart of God and Jesus. He patiently endured when He was wronged. For all of us, on the cross.
if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
Again, it is bringing someone back – restoring someone. Helping them get back on the path.