Knowing that we live in a fallen world, fight a vicious enemy, and battle with flesh that is prone to indulgence, we should not be shocked when one in our company falls. The Church has a reputation for “shooting our wounded,” but rather than kicking a sister who is down, we should be the first to offer help.
If you missed yesterday’s post, I hope you’ll click over to read it first to get some context for today’s post. I’m sharing with you some components for the recovery effort of a fallen church member and the first one was in yesterday’s post: “Cultivate a Grace Environment”.
On the practical level, how do we step in and “carry” a fallen brother or sister?
[box]Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1–2)[/box]
How do we aid in the restoration process?
- Be a Truth Speaker
When a fallen believer starts down the road to recovery, he needs the assurance that he will not be abandoned, that he is not walking this journey alone. It is critical for truth-speakers to be intentional in surrounding him early in the process. Truth-speakers perform the integral function of helping the brother or sister get their perspective adjusted. Sin is blinding, and when you’ve been caught in it for a long season, you no longer have clear vision. Your thinking has become skewed and truth is no longer your guiding star.
The body of Christ should come alongside individuals who’ve lost their way and graciously speak truth:
[box]Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . .” (Proverbs 27:5–6)[/box]
“Speaking truth” may mean sending out regular text messages filled with Scripture, or just loving and truthful encouragement. It will probably include some confrontational conversations—but these should be delivered in humility to be effective or biblical.
- Provide Clear Guidelines for the Process of Repentance
The process of recovery must begin with repentance. Whether a fellow believer confesses his sin or is “caught” by another who confronts him, repentance must be evident for recovery to begin. In the early stages of turning back to God, the fallen brother may not demonstrate the level of brokenness that we would hope for, but as he begins experiencing the consequences of his sin, it will aid him in recognizing the gravity of his sin. For the sake of his soul, we must not provide short-cuts or attempt to soften the blows of those consequences.
- Provide Adequate Accountability
Depending on the level of deception and length of time involved in the sin, appropriate measures should be taken for accountability. This may include involving professional counselors and ministries who specialize in the particular area of addiction. If that isn’t necessary, the church should provide some type of regular counseling. A network of mature believers, who are knowledgeable of the individual’s vulnerabilities, will also need to serve in this process. This is especially important in the early stages, but never assume the brother is “in the clear” and no longer needs accountability. The accountability will lesson as trustworthiness is established over time, but all believers need to live with some type of accountability in place.
- Encourage Continual Confession
Confession brings everything into the light and strips the darkness of its power to deceive, shame, and addict the fallen brother. Confession should become a regular activity. Encourage the fallen brother to begin recording events, sins, activities, and conversations that the Holy Spirit brings to mind in a journal. Once a week, he should share the latest additions to the “confession list” with at least two members of the accountability team or the individuals who are involved with counseling.
- Saturate with Truth
The only hope for full recovery is a fresh and serious commitment to the Word. Sin’s power over us is the result of losing our love for the Savior. The way we fuel our love is to grow in our understanding of who He is, to reach increasing levels of intimacy with Him, to come to a greater appreciation of the cross, grace, and His love. That will not happen apart from feeding on His Word. That is how we know what we know about God. The Word is what reveals to us His beauty and justice.
- Flood the Heart with Pure, Lovely, and Praiseworthy Activities
Our fallen friend is leaving behind a hidden lifestyle that occupied the heart, mind, and a portion of time and energy. When he or she turns from that lifestyle, there will be gaps that need to be filled with good things. The old must be replaced with the new. Invite the fallen to join you and friends in activities that will stimulate new thought processes and encourage their desire to know Christ more intimately.
- Be the Fragrance of Christ
The only hope for our fallen friend is falling deeply in love with Christ. As their love for Christ grows, their desire to follow Him will overcome temptation. We must pray for their love for Him to increase, but also encourage that love by allowing God to use us in practical ways to spread the fragrance of Christ.
[box]But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)[/box]
How are you helping someone who is on the road to recovery?
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