I'm wondering if you can please help me with a difficult situation I'm living with. There is a brother in the church I'm part of that has been living in sin. He had been living in adultery for a while, but then he came back to the church seeking help and his wife welcomed him back. But then soon after he left again and went back into an adulterous life and once again came back. He then got some help from an elder and his wife welcomed him back again. I think he went through some counseling with his wife, but I don't think they ever started living together again. Recently he has again slipped back into sin as the elders of our church announced after one of our church services. This has been discouraging to our local church and to his wife and family.
One thing that I'm really struggling with is that I actually live with him in the same house, along with some other Christians. I think the elders have advised us to not associate with him unless we are talking about spiritual things pertaining to God. Now since I live with him, I'm wondering how to handle this situation in the way God wants me to handle it. If I am to not associate with him, how do I act around him if I see him? Is there anything I can say to him to encourage him to repent? I've been really worried about this because I live with him. I'm afraid of him acting rudely and unkindly around me and others living in the house. I've been praying to God to help me with this.
"The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:22-24).
How many times a person repents doesn't matter. You never know whether this time he might truly mean it and stick with it. "Then Peter came and said to Him, "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).
What you want to avoid is showing approval for his adulterous lifestyle. You don't treat him as if nothing is wrong, or that you two are good friends. "I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -- not even to eat with such a one" (I Corinthians 5:11). So, on some quiet occasion, tell him that you are sorry for the problems in his life, that you would like to have him back at church, and that if he wants to talk about it, you are willing to listen.