On Sin And Restoration
The cross of Christ deals with man's sin problem completely, and to the satisfaction of God the Father. At the cross, Jesus becomes the sinless substitute to absorb the righteous wrath of God that our sins deserve. And those who trust in Jesus are set free from both the penalty and the power of sin.
Because of the cross, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus- no more guilt, and no more penalty! Not only that, but sin has no authority over us obey its demands. Praise God for the grace that flows to us through the death of Jesus!
The Reality Of Sin
But now that we have been set free from the penalty and power of sin, we have to deal with the reality of the presence of remaining sin in us. We are new creations, but we still have the remnants of our old sinful nature within us. And that means the reality of sin is always near. Sin clings closely to us as believers (Hebrews 12:2), but it is not our identity as believers. Sin dwells within, but it is a parasite. So we shouldn't be surprised when sin strikes us from the inside-out. We struggle with sin and we fall into sin. Sin entangles us, and we can find ourselves caught in transgression.
But God is greater. So when sin entangles us, we need to rely on the means of grace, where God has promised to bless us and meet us with His power and help.
Restoration From Sin
Paul says in Galatians 6:1:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)
The word, "any" should be encouraging here. If anyone is caught in any transgression. There is no such thing as a Christian who doesn't qualify as "anyone"! And there is no sin that does not qualify as "any" transgression! That should comfort us immensely. In Christ, there is real hope for restoration for any Christian caught in any transgression. But that restoration doesn't happen automatically. The members of the church are called to play an important role.
Paul says that "you who are spiritual" should be involved in restoring anyone caught in any transgression. That takes wisdom. That takes time. That takes commitment. That takes prayer. That takes faith. But most practically, that will take a "spirit of gentleness." The work of restoring a fellow Christian from sin will take lots of hard conversations and maybe even some setbacks. There can be discouragements along the way. Pride can creep in. And if we're not careful, we can be tempted to respond to someone else's sin with our own sin. So we need a "spirit of gentleness" that only the Holy Spirit can give us. We need the mindset and willingness to bear one another's burdens, and love one another like Christ loved us.
Sinners Helping Sinners
Sinners helping others sinners follow Jesus is the work of ministry that the church is called to do. And the work of restoration will look different from person-to-person and situation-to-situation. But we can't do this great work according to our own wisdom and according to our own strength. We need God's help and grace to see that we all have a deep need for the Spirit's humbling work in us.
So as we engage in the work of restoration, pray that God would give us humble hearts, gentle hearts, wise hearts, loving hearts, and hopeful hearts. God's plan is not only to restore His children, but to humble and transform those who come alongside to help.