Discipleship: Sin & Temptation

You can rest secure in your salvation. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for all of your sin, therefore you will not be condemned if you sin:

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; …

– John 3:18 (ACV)

However, sin will affect your relationship with God, therefore you need to understand it and know how to deal with it.

What is sin?

Each believer has different ideas about what things are sin. What some think is sin, others do not. J. Vernon McGee gave this illustration.

My wife was reared in Texas in a Southern Baptist church. She was brought up by a mother and father and pastor who believed that mixed bathing {swimming} was sinful. Then when she came to California, you can’t imagine the shock she had the first time she went down to the beach with the young people from our church – even in those days they weren’t wearing much. My wife was in a state of shock for twenty-four hours after that! She had never seen anything like it. However, in the area from which she came the use of tobacco was not frowned upon. The officers of the church smoked; in fact, her pastor smoked. When she came to California, she found that using tobacco was taboo. If you were a Christian, you did not smoke.

– J. Vernon McGee

This example shows how ideas of what is a sin varies among believers. If you were to rely on your own personal opinion about what is a sin and what is not, the definition of sin would be very subjective. Your definition might clash with mine, and mine with yours.

It is important to realize that even though we each have ideas about what is sinful and what is not, only God can define what sin is, because sin is against God, it is what offends Him. Therefore we must study His Word, and revise our understanding accordingly.

Sin has been defined as “missing the mark”, not meeting God’s standard of righteousness, transgressing the law:

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

– 1 John 3:4

Sin “may be regarded as the missing of a mark or aim: it is then hamartia or hamartema (sin, evil deed); the overpassing or transgressing of a line: it is then parabasis (transgression, breaking); the disobedience to a voice: in which case it is parakoe (disobedience); the falling where one should have stood upright: this will be paraptoma (trespass, offense); ignorance of what one ought to have known: this will be agnoema (sin of ignorance); diminishing of that which should have been rendered in full measure, which is hettema (a fault); non-observance of a law, which is anomia or paranomia (iniquity, unrighteousness, transgression of the law, wickedness).”

– Trench

Sin is choosing to follow your own will over God’s will:

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; …

– Isaiah 53:6 (ACV)

“Sin is fun to get, but it’s like sugar-coated, long-acting cyanide!”
– Keith Green

Sin is, by words or deeds, declaring independence from God.

God gave the Jews the Law, which defined sin in practical terms. The Law said if someone did such-and-such, it is sin, and this is the punishment for it. But even though the Law defines sin practically (i.e. as various actions such as stealing, lying, murder, etc.), sin actually begins in the heart, which cannot be seen by men.

He who despises his neighbor sins; …

– Proverbs 14:21 (ACV)

“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. …

– Matthew 5:22 (AKJV)

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

– Matthew 5:28 (RKJNT)

The Law can be used to identify sins once they become actions, but only God can see someone’s heart. The Law identifies heart sins such as coveting (“thou shalt not covet…”), but provides no punishment for it, because coveting is a heart sin which only God can see. (Look through the Bible and you’ll find only God ever convicted men of coveting, i.e. Numbers 11:4, Joshua 7:21.) But even though there is no punishment prescribed for coveting, it is still a sin. And even the most minor sin has an affect on your relationship with God.

If you are saved, you have no need to worry about losing your salvation due to sin or anything else because Jesus took the entire punishment for all of your sin. You have much liberty in Jesus. However, salvation is not a license for you to sin. Paul said:

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

– Romans 6:15

Even though you and I are free from the penalty of sin, we are not to sin. Sin is what displeases God, what offends Him. Because you now have a relationship with God, one that you should be continually striving to better, you need to seek to live in a way that pleases God. Otherwise, your spiritual growth will be hindered.

We all offend people at times by what we say or do. Many times we are unaware of doing so. I may offend my wife unknowingly. Then, even though I think things are going well, my relationship with her is affected. We are not always aware of what offends our friends, but the more we get to know them, the more aware we become of their likes and dislikes. The same is true of God. You cannot go on the basis of your likes and dislikes to know what God likes and dislikes. Some things that you may think are good, pleasing, and even righteous in God’s eyes are not.

… all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; …

– Isaiah 64:6

King Saul, in 1 Samuel 15:11-23, thought he was doing something pleasing to God when he saved some sheep and cattle of the Amalekites for sacrificing to God. But God had told him to destroy them completely (vs. 3). Saul delayed to do so because he thought he had a plan that would please God. Instead, God wasn’t pleased, and Saul was rejected as king.

Don’t be like Saul, assuming your own standard of right and wrong is God’s. Study your Bible to know what God considers a sin. Yes, there is the obvious: don’t murder, don’t steal, etc. But when you meditate on God’s word, you need to let God speak to you so that you can examine your heart to see if you are entertaining thoughts that God doesn’t like.

There are three other practical definitions of sin you need to be aware of:

1. Sin is whatever is not of faith.

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

– Romans 14:23

Paul here is talking about food sacrificed to idols. While there is nothing directly wrong with eating food sacrificed to idols, if you have doubts, but eat anyway, then it is sin for you. Whatever you do, if you are not sure if it is a sin, and you do it anyway, then it is a sin. This is an attitude problem. You are doing something that you think God may not like.

2. Sin is whatever hinders your relationship with Jesus Christ. If your relationship with Him is not growing, there is something wrong that needs to be addressed.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.

– Psalms 66:18 (AKJV)

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

– Isaiah 59:2

The results of sin in a believer’s life includes hardening of the heart and a lukewarm or cold relationship toward God. You may not be conscious of sin in your life, but if you are not growing closer to God over time (i.e. in character, not in feeling), you can be sure there is sin somewhere – even if it is a sin of omission such as not spending time with God in the word and prayer. Ask God to reveal it to you.

3. Sin is whatever you do that hinders someone else’s relationship with Jesus Christ. You have a responsibility towards your brothers and sisters in Christ.

For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

– 1 Corinthians 8:10-12

What you do may not be a sin in itself, but if another believer is not sure, or thinks it is a sin, then you should not do it in front of him because he will be weakened. He may be emboldened to do it, but not of faith. Be careful with those whose faith is weaker than yours.

What is temptation?

Temptation is whatever urges you to sin, and it comes from three places:

SATAN, YOUR ADVERSARY: He works by deception, making sin seem appealing, but he never forces you to sin. The devil can’t “make you do it” unless you give him permission.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

– Genesis 3:4-5

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

– Matthew 4:3

THE WORLD, its way of looking at things. The world is made up of men who all have the fallen sin nature. The world tempts through peer-pressure and overly familiar attitudes and views that are ungodly.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

– 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

YOUR OLD NATURE (the “flesh”). It is this nature, inherited from Adam, that is the primary reason that you sin. You are not a sinner because you sin, you sin because you are a sinner. Practically speaking, your greatest enemy is not Satan or the world, but yourself.

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

– Matthew 15:19 (AKJV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

– 1 Timothy 6:9

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

– James 1:14-15

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

– James 4:1

Temptation from Satan and the world create evil desires, but temptation of the flesh works on the desires that already exist in you.

(As Adam was not created with a sin nature, his temptation in the garden was entirely from outside of himself (i.e. of Satan and the “world” – Eve). Jesus, the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), also did not have a sin nature, and so His temptation was also limited to Satan (Matthew 4:1-11) and the world (Matthew 27:39-44).)

Temptation does not come from God, however. He may test you, but He does not tempt you to sin.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

– James 1:13

What is the difference between temptation and testing? Well, it may not be apparent when you go through it, but there is a difference. The purpose of temptation is to get you to sin, but the purpose of testing is to prove and strengthen you. The problem is that you can’t always see the purpose, and sometimes the line between temptation and testing gets blurred because it may be a combination of both. Satan tempted Job to blaspheme God, but God permitted it to prove how blameless and upright Job was.

Temptation is not sin. It may seem so at times, when an evil or blasphemous thought comes into your head. You feel unclean. You may think you have sinned right then. But remember that Jesus was tempted, yet He was without sin. Satan put thoughts into Jesus’ head, but Jesus didn’t entertain them. He took action right away. Sin has to do with what you do with those thoughts when they first enter your mind. Do you entertain the thought? Do you toy with the idea? Then it is sin, even if you don’t intend on acting on your thoughts.

How should I respond to temptation?

Obviously, you are not to give in to temptation. (“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”, Romans 6:15). But how can you resist it?

RECOGNIZE THE CHOICE: You always have a choice with temptation. The devil can’t make you do anything. He can put thoughts into your mind, but you have the choice of what to do with them. No temptation is too strong for you because God always provides a way out.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

– 1 Corinthians 10:13

When temptation is very strong, this is a truth that you must take by faith. Don’t give in but look for the way out. Ask God to show you, expecting Him to show you or provide the way out. Then choose to resist.

AVOID TEMPTING SITUATIONS WHERE POSSIBLE: Don’t see how close to the middle of the road you can get without going over. Giving in to temptation weakens you to further temptation.

Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly;

– Proverbs 23:31

And remember, what may be a weakness to you may not be to someone else.

PRAY TO AVOID TEMPTATION: When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He included asking God to not lead us into temptation (i.e. to lead us away from situations where we might be tempted) (Matthew 6:13). He also told His disciples to watch and pray lest they enter temptation:

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

– Matthew 26:41

The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came…Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.

– R. A. Torrey

COUNTER TEMPTATION WITH SCRIPTURE: Jesus when tempted, countered with appropriate scripture. Here’s a good reason for you to memorize scripture.

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

– Matthew 4:3-11

Notice that Satan wanted Jesus to focus on himself, his needs and desires, while Jesus responded by focusing on God.

PUT ON ALL GOD’S ARMOR, RESIST SATAN, AND STAND IN FAITH:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —

– Ephesians 6:10 (GENEVA1599)

All of this armor is necessary to withstand Satan. You must be saved, know the truth, live a righteous and blameless life, be prepared to spread the gospel, and live by faith and the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not say you are to bind Satan. It does says you are to stand, resisting him:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

– James 4:7

Don’t give in!

RECKON YOURSELF DEAD TO SIN: You are dead to sin. When Jesus died, you died in Him.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

– Romans 6:1-18 (AKJV)

Now consider yourself dead. A dead man no longer responds to the things of this world. Do not respond to temptation.

LIVE IN THE SPIRIT:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

– Galatians 5:16

Do you realize what this verse is saying? While temptation can come from outside of you, all sin comes from giving in to the desires of your flesh – your old nature. But if you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the desires of your flesh, therefore you will not sin. Think about it. It is impossible to walk in the Spirit and sin at the same time. Go back in your mind and recall any past sin you want, and you will find that you were not walking in the Spirit at the time. You are in a war between living in the Spirit and living in the flesh:

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

– Galatians 5:17

What makes it so hard is that the enemy is your old nature. Victory over sin in your life is achieved not only by considering yourself dead to sin, but by considering yourself alive to Christ, alive in the Holy Spirit:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

– Romans 8:1-9 (WEB)

I highly recommend an in-depth study of Romans 6 to 8 and Paul’s letter to the Galatians. You will see that the power of living a holy life is not in yourself but in the One who lives inside you. Jesus Christ’s death deals with your sins (past, present, and future), and the Holy Spirit deals with your sin nature.

How should I deal with sin in my life?

When you do sin, what do you need to do?

CONFESS: To God who is the one you sinned against, and whoever else is involved. Admit what you’ve done. Be specific. It also helps to tell someone else.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

– James 5:16

REPENT: It does no good to confess but not repent. Confession says you sinned. Repentance says you will make an effort to not sin again.

MAKE IT RIGHT: Where possible, make restitution to the person you sinned against.

GO ON WITH LIFE: Once God has forgiven you, the sin is in the past. Don’t dwell on it.

How should I deal with temptation and sin in others’ lives?

As far as temptation is concerned, you must be careful not to put stumbling blocks in the way of other believers. Obviously you must live in a way that avoids tempting others with real sin, but you must also be responsible in the area of your Christian liberty:

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

– 1 Corinthians 8:9

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. …

– 1 Corinthians 6:12

Romans 14 deals with your liberty in Christ in relation to others:

(:1-3) Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. … (:13-17) Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. … (:20-23) Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

– Romans 14

Weak believers are those who do not realize the liberty that we have in Christ. In Paul’s time, there were those who didn’t eat meat because they thought it was wrong. Perhaps it was meat that was unclean to a Jew. Perhaps it was sacrificed to idols. Whatever the reason, notice that Paul considers the faith of the one who does eat as stronger than the faith of the one who doesn’t. The one who won’t eat meat hasn’t given that area over to God in faith. Paul says there is nothing inherently wrong with eating things sacrificed to idols:

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

– 1 Corinthians 8:4-13

What does Paul instruct believers to do in a situation like this? We are not to try to show our liberty in Christ by eating meat, but we are to bear with their weakness:

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

– Romans 15:1

In teaching others by example, no less than by argument, it is possible to be overbold. Here for instance is a brother whose conscience does not allow him to eat meat. So what do I do? I sit down in his presence and eat as much meat as possible, in the vain belief that by so doing I shall show him what Christian liberty is! I do not argue with him, but I put meat here and I put meat there, all in order to demonstrate to him the nature of liberty in Christ. Am I helping him, or am I “destroying” him? For note how this verse continues. It does not say “Destroy not with your argument,” but “Destroy not with your meat.” So if my brother and I see differently about such a matter, I should keep that difference well in the background and not thrust it on his consciousness. God commends me to do nothing to hurt him. Why? Because this is the man for whom Christ died.

– W. Nee

The realization of your liberty is of faith, not example. In other words, for someone who avoids meat because he thinks it is a sin, in order for him to realize it is ok to eat meat, this must come by his understanding being changed first, not by him seeing you eat meat. Actions arise from faith, not faith from actions. If you exercise your liberty where it is not understood, it will not make a weak one’s faith stronger. He will likely think what you are doing is a sin, which may cause him to stumble. Instead, you must bear with their weak faith.

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
Are the builders of eternity.
To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere time is flown,
A stumbling-block or a stepping-stone.

– R. L. Sharpe, Major Edward Bowes, “Verses I like,” Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., 1937.

As you go on in your Christian life, you will see your brothers and sisters in Christ stumble at times. Even the ones you look up to. What do you do if you see another believer sin? Condemn him? Ignore it? Neither. You are to seek restoration.

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

– Matthew 9:13

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

– Luke 15:7

Restoration, not condemnation, is God’s goal for each of us. Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save the world (John 3:17). You and I need to have the same attitude.

If someone sins against you, deal with it on a one-to-one basis at first:

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

– Matthew 18:15-17

…and that doesn’t mean shun him. Treat him with love anyway. Forgive him. It’s interesting to note that Matthew the tax collector was the one to record these words. Jesus treated Him with love.

While not common in the Bible, Jesus forgave His crucifiers ( Luke 23:34) and Stephen his stoners ( Acts 7:60) for their specific acts – even when they were not repentant.

Be willing to forgive, not second-guessing the sincerity of the one asking for forgiveness (Luke 17:4, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13). Seek to restore the relationship. Remember: nobody “deserves” to be forgiven. Forgiveness always involves taking on a loss on the part of the forgiver.

And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

– 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

Those who are spiritually mature are to restore the fallen believer in a spirit of gentleness.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

– Galatians 6:1

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

– James 5:19-20

Humility is important in this area. You must realize that you are capable of any sin imaginable, and so am I:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

– 1 Corinthians 10:12 (RKJNT)

When those who are in a position of authority in the church sin, the action needs to be bold. This is because the sin will have a greater effect on the church.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

– Galatians 2:11-14

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

– Titus 3:9-11

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