(Outline from a Dudley Rutherford sermon)
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
I. The Reality
A. People are going to wander from the truth.
Judas turned on Jesus for the equivalent of $16, King David turned away from the faith for the love of money, John Mark got discouraged and just quit when the problems of life distracted him, people are like lost sheep who just wander away carelessly. Whether is it corruption, greed, problems, or just laziness, how big would the church be if nobody quit? We need to make sure that we come to church with the right motive, holiness, and not something like happiness, so when life challenges us, we cling tighter to the Savior.
People are not grounded enough in the Word of God, that they get blown away when another doctrine comes along. How many people raised in the church, who never heard the Gospel clearly explained, and didn't spend time in their bible getting the truth into them, left the church for a cult, or the New Age Movement, or even a liberal (not literal) interpretation of the bible.
I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
People raised in a Christian home go off to college and come home with a morality that is relative, believing that the bible is not reliable (though their textbooks are), that abortion, pornography and homosexuality are all OK. Once you discredit the bible at THE standard of truth, you can pretty much make it up as you go along, and people certainly do.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ! Colossians 2:8
B. People are in danger of spiritual death.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
It is clear that God in the New Testament is angry at people who keep on sinning, calling them His enemies, and promising judgment and raging fire. Spiritual death is dangerous. Much more dangerous than spending fifteen minutes with someone who does not share your beliefs. Anyone who believes that becoming a Christian is just 'saying a prayer' and then continuing in their old lifestyle has not read this verse. I hear people who say that they "confess" their sins all the time, but have yet to actually "repent" and turn from them, actually forsaking them as we are required to do. Hebrews is talking here about people who show up every Sunday and call themselves Christians, but their lifestyle clearly shows otherwise. These are the ones that will say, "Lord, Lord" and He will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you."
2 Peter 2:20-22
20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
The problem with the watered down, modern Gospel, is that it produces false converts. People who are willing to give this Jesus thing a try to see what it can do for them. They have never seen their sin as God sees it, examined themselves in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, and, like a dog, return to their own vomit at the first chance. If someone truly sees what God thinks of their sin, and sees His righteous anger at their sin, they don't have to try not to look at pornography on the Internet. When someone realized their sin makes them an enemy of God, they don't have wandering eyes, looking at anyone else from their spouse. People who have truly surrendered to Christ, cannot be slaves to sin anymore.
II. The Responsibility (to restore)
A. Follow the Scriptures
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. - This seems to be the only verse that non-believers can quote from memory. Why do you think that is? They don't want to be told what they are doing is wrong. But, they neglect to read on.
2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
�3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
We not only have a right to restore those who have drifted away, but the responsibility to do so. It is not just the job of the pastor, or the elders. James just wants to be sure that we make sure our walk matches our talk. Then we are called to go bring our brothers back into the fold.
15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
There is a biblical order to confronting people with their sin. It starts with one on one witnessing, so that you don't embarrass a person in a crowd. Ultimately it ends with treating him like a tax collector. How would that be? Well, you don't have to be best friends with the person, but always show them respect and humility.
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.
Clearly the scriptures want us to restore lost sheep, but tells us to do so with humility and gentleness. Watch your motive and tone when you talk with someone. Are you trying to win an argument? Passion is OK, as long as you have compassion. This is another reason to ask people about their keeping the commandments, and not accuse them of doing so. We don't need to judge people, their conscience does that. But, telling people the truth of God's judgment is not the same thing as judging people ourself.
B. Follow the Steps (Nathan) 2 Samuel 12:1-13
1.He mustered the courage to go. - Let your fear drive you to your knees. That is where our true strength comes from... prayer. It's not always fun, but we need to put people's welfare over our own comfort.
2.He had the right timing. - Pray about it every time you confront someone.
3.He had the right facts. - Make sure you are not acting on a rumor or a false accusation.
4.He chose his words carefully. - Make sure you confront someone biblically. (see how Jesus did it)
5.He maintained communication. - Waiting around on your high horse for people to ask for your opinion will never work. You need to be the one to reach out and communicate the truth to people.
III. The Reward
A. Save him from death.
B. Cover over a multitude of sins.
The bible is clear that death is the consequence of sin. Our reward comes in the form of saving someone else, showing them how their sins are covered, all, ultimately to the glory of God, not ourselves.
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.