Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity

"Restore Such An One"

Gordon Wilson, Sacramento, California

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which arc spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Gal. 6:1)

To restore means to "bring back to a former condition; to make strong or impart strength." The instruction of the apostle Paul here obligates every Christian to know what restoration is and how it may be accomplished. We are instructed to restore the one who is overtaken in a fault. There is certainly a difference between the person who deliberately, in defiance of what he knows to be right, commits a sin, and the one who is overtaken in a fault. Temptation is often of such a character that we do not recognize its power until it has developed into lust, lust into sin, and sin into separation from God. It is one thing to be bad, and quite another thing to be overtaken in sin because of weakness or inexperience. All of us have sinned and have from time to time failed to measure up to God's standards of holiness, but most of us are not basically evil. We are weak, but we are not by nature corrupt. Therefore we can see the importance of trying to restore the child of God who has slipped away. The soul of that weak brother or sister is a jewel with a reflection of God's glory. Certainly we must hate sin, but let us not be too quick to condemn the human perpetrator of that sin. We are too often ready to give a weak member of the church up for lost without any effort being made to lead him back to the right relationship with God. There are congregations in the land whose strength might be nearly doubled if a real effort were made to restore all of that community who have left the Lord.

But who is to seek to restore them? Paul says it is the responsibility of "ye which are spiritual." The one who is spiritual is the one who has manifested in his life the fruit of the Spirit, mentioned in the verses just preceding our text. (Gal. 5:22, 23) Among these results of the Spirit's influence in the life of a Christian, are such traits as should cause us to reflect with sympathy and helpfulness when we see a brother stumble. These are traits which ought to be a part of the life of every child of God. It follows that the command to "restore such an one" applies to all of us. It is not the task of the preacher only; it cannot be left entirely up to the elders. Sometimes the private member of the church can have an influence for good along this line that surpasses that of preacher and elders. The preacher has a responsibility to preach the truth; the elders have a duty to lead, guide, and watch for the souls of the flock; but every Christian must also Co good as he has opportunity. Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Burden-bearing is the task of every creature under the law to Christ. The burden cannot be shifted to just the "leaders" of the church.

Restoring the wandering child must be done "in the spirit of meekness." The work of Paul among the Thessalonians sets forth the proper spirit of instruction: "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." (1 Thess. 2:7, 8) No Christian can afford to be arrogant or boastful in teaching the truth, and especially not in helping the weaker brother who has been overtaken in a fault. Our own danger of slipping should preclude the possibility of pride. "Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." If I had been subjected to the same temptations, and the same pressures, as my brother, perhaps I would have done just what he did. And even if I can assure my heart that I would never have committed that sin, I know that other sins may have allurement for me. If each of us will consider ourselves when we go to help another, surely our spirit will be meeker than it many times is.

In restoring the one overtaken in a fault we must point out to him that God has a law of restoration. This law involves genuine repentance and sincere prayer. (Acts 8:22) It includes confession and a request for forgiveness to whoever may have been offended by the sin committed. If sin is known only to God, confess it to him alone; do we not all confess to him daily and ask him forgiveness? If the sin is against a brother, go to him and settle the wrong. If the sin is of a public nature, the entire community of believers has been affected by it, then the confession should be before the church. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)