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When a Spiritual Sibling Sins

1 John 5:16-17
If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. (NIVUK)

The church is a family full of brothers and sisters who are all equally related to their heavenly Father through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although we will all be perfect when we see Jesus, we are not yet sinless. We sin more often than we like to think, and yet, when we do think, we are deeply ashamed and turn to the Lord in confession, asking to be forgiven.

When we see another of God's children losing the battle with temptation, we have a responsibility towards the brother or sister. Rather than becoming superior and judgemental (as so many believers are inclined to do), the first thing to do is to pray for them to repent. After all, they belong to the Lord: He is making them like Jesus and so He has a special interest in their holiness. The inner voice of the Spirit is powerful to convict sinners of their guilt so we should ask the Lord to bring them to repentance. When they repent they will be cleansed and made usable again in God's kingdom (Hebrews 10:22).

Alas there are some in our churches who do not seem to care about their sin. It brings them no distress at all. They are not repentant and appear to have no guilt. Instead of comparing themselves against God's Word they assess themselves against the standards of the world. Their consciences are not working and they are on a one-way street to judgement. Yes, they are in the church, but they are not in Christ.

We cannot ignore the responsibility to watch over our true spiritual siblings. Paul writes in Galations 6:1, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." But it is so easy to become critical and judgemental; that is why we need to learn to talk to God before we open our mouths to others. In God's mercy, full restoration is the privilege of the child of God who responds in repentance when the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts: so pray that He will show His true children where they have missed the mark.

Loving Father. Thank You that You want all Your children to be in full fellowship with Yourself and each other. Thank You for showing me where I have sinned, and bringing me back to Your love as I have confessed my sin and sought forgiveness. I am sorry for the times when I have been critical of other believers and have not prayed for them that You will bring them to repentance. Please do Your own work of conviction in my life, and in the hearts of my spiritual brothers and sisters, so that we will respond to Your Holy Spirit in repentance and know the joy of restoration. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams