Thursday, May 01, 2008

Walking With Sinners

In the last post I mentioned that we are to walk with those who have addictions in their new life. How do we do this? I think a number of ways.

First, the person is probably hurting and so they will need great encouragement. We read in Psalm 32 that when the Psalmist kept silent about his transgressions his bones wasted away through [his] groaning all day long. We read later that his strength was sapped as in the heat of the summer. We need to understand that they are engaged in a battle and even the small advances in holiness should be noticed and pointed out. They need to hear someone thanking God for victories they may not yet see.

Second, the person should continually "expose" his sin - that is he should be accountable to you. Ephesians 5 encourages us to expose our sins by the light. As you walk with this person, you need to be someone they can trust with their sin. You need to be someone who will speak the truth in love, not as one standing above but as one walking alongside - a fellow sinner. In fact, we need to understand that it is often us who has the log in our eye while we see their speck.

Third, the person needs to know this is a process. Sanctification is in part the process of God working His will in our lives to separate us from the world. In fact, walking beside someone is a very appropriate image because it conveys a journey that takes time but as you travel, you become closer to the destination. In the case of someone fighting an addiction, we need to reassure them of Biblical truth that God is working - at times slowly and at other times more decisively - and creating in them a pure heart.

Fourth, the person needs to know that while God's discipline is at times harsh, it is always for our good. We need to allow people to speak about the groaning and weariness of the battle but we cannot leave them there. We must ultimately point them to Jesus and the hope that is found in him.

Fifth, the person must be encouraged to become active in Christian service and Bible reading/prayer (fellowship with God). Why? Because there is joy found in a deeper relationship with God and in a serving relationship with God's people. That is joy. And the more joy they experience of God and His people, the less attractive sins looks. This means that the one walking with the person must also exhibit great joy in the Lord.

The greatest battle against sin is won not ultimately looking at sin and its consequences but looking at the cross and knowing the joy of the Lord (Hebrews 12).

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