Thursday, October 10, 2013

Am I A Restorer?

God knows... Jeremiah 17:9,10
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. ~Galatians 6:1

Last Sunday Lucas Bair was our guest preacher for the morning service and he asked an important question. Why is it so hard to respond to sin in other’s lives with the goal of restoration in view? Here in Paul’s letter to the Galatian church, he exhorts believers to respond to sin in other Christians lives by making decisions and taking actions that lead to the eventual restoration of the offender’s relationship to God and God’s people. This is not the natural and default response, so the title of his sermon, “Am I A Restorer?”, is a good one to consider.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” ~Matthew 18:15

Paul’s teaching of dealing with sinning Christians with a restorative approach was not his own idea. Jesus had already given the disciples instructions on how to handle the difficult circumstances of Church members sinning against other members. This passage in Matthew (verses 15-20) are familiar instructions on what we do when another Christian sins against us. Again, each step of it has restoration of the relationship in view and removes the role of judge and punishment from the Christian and places it with God alone. Lucas pointed out the difficulty of forgiveness and restoration we may have is due to the condition of our hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~Jeremiah 17:9

God, speaking by the prophet Jeremiah, made it quite clear that man’s heart is desperately wicked. No amount of cleaning up, self-help, or behavior modification will work. The human heart (the center of understanding and feelings) is incurably sick and therefore unable to understand or diagnose its own condition. The important thing to note here is if you are a believer and Born Again, you have an understanding and a perspective that the person in Jeremiah 17:9 does not have. Remember Pastor’s message from two weeks ago? He spoke about “regeneration.”

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. ~James 1:18

Regeneration is the act of God alone, whereby He gives life to spiritually dead sinners so that they may respond to His call to be saved. While it is true those who have been regenerated (Born Again) still have a sin nature to struggle with, it is also true they have been given new life and new Spirit! Christians are no longer incurably sick and no longer entirely deceived by their hearts. Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have been given new hearts.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. ~Ezekiel 36:26

So to answer the question “Why is it so hard to respond to sin in other’s lives with the goal of restoration in view?” it is because believers are still struggling with a sin nature, but we must look to the truth and wisdom found in God’s Word and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When someone sins against us, we are to work towards restoration with them rather than judgment because that is what we have received from God.

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21,22

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