I have another question that relates to a brother who is dealing with some personal issues. Basically he is a good brother who is ambitious and devoted to the church. However he has gone through a lot and is continually fighting the temptation of allowing the old man to return, especially when negative situations occur. I am very concerned for him as the church is aware of his problem and how it might affect the congregation if he continues to allow this sin to overcome him. Each time he has fallen he has repented, but he would eventually fall again. His mother, myself and friends are concern, do you have any suggestions?

I would be willing to help, but you have given me very little to go upon. I'll give you some general advice, but would it be possible for the brother to write to me? Perhaps if I knew more about his struggles I could help him sort out the cause and what he needs to do.

In dealing with people battling sin over the years, I find that many people, even among our brethren, do not fully understand the nature of temptation and sin. They know they have a problem, they know they shouldn't sin, but they try battling the problem on the wrong grounds and thus often lose. Read over the sermon, "The Nature of Sin, Temptation, and Lust." The application section of the lesson was geared more toward teenagers and sexual sins, but it can be applied to almost any situation. I use this lesson a lot when helping those caught up in drugs to understand the battle all Christians must wage against Satan.

Second, it is easy to get frustrated when dealing with someone who repeatedly falls in sin. You must keep in mind what Peter and Jesus discussed, "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-22). None of us would want God to place limits on how many times we might be forgiven of sin; neither should we place a limit on our brother. Since our own forgiveness depends on forgiving others, Paul warned, "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. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2). You can't fix a wrong with another wrong. Some people require a LOT of patience to help them overcome sin.

Third, all involved with this brother must examine their interactions with him to see if they are enabling him to sin. Are you making excuses for his misbehavior? Are you rescuing him so that he doesn't face the consequences of his misdeeds? Just like a child, a person who is continually shielded from the results of his own bad choices will not stop making the bad choices. A child who never faces a problem because he didn't turn in his homework, will not bother turning in his homework. Some of the best lessons in life is when a person must face the full reality of what he has done.

I believe that a good part of the problem is that we misunderstand the nature of what forgiveness really involves. Read over the lesson, "Have We Forgotten Our Shame?" and see if this helps.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Restoring a Brother
Questions and Answers regarding Sin
Questions and Answers regarding Forgiveness