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Restore Such a One

by H. E. Phillips

Those who have very little concern for the lost will not make much effort to restore them to the Lord. Those who love the lost and are concerned about their eternal destiny will work and pray for the salvation of their souls. The difference between these two groups is the difference between the spiritual mind and the carnal mind. This will depict the zealous and devout workers in the kingdom versus the indifferent bench warmer who finds fault and criticizes every effort on the part of the faithful.

Galatians 6:1 says: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

Restoring that one who has been overcome in a fault requires more than knocking at the door and scolding him for his sins. It involves more than sending a card, or making a phone call and talking with generalities. These things will help show the sinner that he has someone's attention, and that they are expressing some concern for him. Restoring the lost requires an attitude of love for the lost and a respect for the word of God that propels that person to seek opportunity to communicate with the one who has been overcome with sin and convince him to repent of his sins, confess his sins and pray to God for forgiveness.

There are so many hindrances to getting this work done. I suppose that is the reason we have so few who are willing and ready to attempt to restore the lost to the Lord. Often there is little interest in and desire for the salvation of the lost in the hearts of those who claim to restore the lost. These will talk about how others ought to be doing the work, but they will make no effort themselves. Some will boast of what they have done in this area, but they sometimes do more harm than good.

The Holy Spirit said the man to be "restored" is the one who has been "overtaken in a fault." The word used by the Holy Spirit for "overtaken" indicates one who has been caught in sin without premeditating the sin; his terrible trespass overcame him. His "fault" was not simply a mistake in judgment or a weakness he may have. It was a serious sin which would cause him to be lost in eternity. It does not mean that the "spiritual" person caught him in the act of sinning and therefore has the responsibility of restoring him. But he does observe that the person has been overtaken in sin, and he responds by trying to "restore" that one.

"... ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). Those who are "spiritual" refer to the previous chapter where the works of the flesh are in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. Those who walk in the Spirit will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1).

The "spiritual" one is sometimes too harsh and cold in his attitude and judgment of the sins of others. I do not suggest that one should compromise with sin to any degree or in any matter. Sin is sin and it damns one in hell if he does not repent. Godliness and love for the truth do not permit any deficiency in dealing with sin.  Love and kindness alone, without conviction and urging repentance, will not rescue from sin. If they could, no one would be lost because God has unlimited love and kindness toward mankind. God is no respecter of persons and we sin if we show respect to persons (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11; James 2:9). The restoration of anyone overtaken in sin is not a penalty, but an attempt to rescue him from the consequence of his sin. It is an act of love, not revenge.

The "spiritual" one is admonished to give heed to himself as he goes about the work of restoring the overtaken. He is to do it in the spirit of meekness. In the previous chapter the fruit of the Spirit includes love, gentleness and meekness (Galatians 5:22-23). Here the spirit of meekness must characterize the one who restores the offender.

But he is also to consider himself lest he be tempted.  Tempted to do what? Clearly it refers to the trespass into which the one to be restored fell. One could hardly help another out of a situation into which he himself has fallen, or is likely to fall. One who has a reputation for gossiping, tale bearing and lying or adultery could hardly do much with one who was overtaken in a terrible sin which was destroying him. Could one cry out to another who is as weak in the same area of temptation? The deceitful and seductive nature of sin and the persistence and subtlety of Satan should put every Christian on 24 hours a day watch lest he be overtaken in a trespass. It is even more important that one watch himself and pray when he is trying to recover another from sin.

The "spiritual" person who attempts to restore the person overtaken in a trespass must remember where the power is that recovers the lost—the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16). Opinions, personal evaluations of behavior, psychological analysis and conformity to denominational doctrines will not restore anyone. We must teach the truth and encourage those who are in sin to repent and turn to the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins.

Every Christian who loves the lost, especially those who have fallen away, will put forth every effort to "restore such an one" to the Lord.