By Barrett Vanlandingham
So what should you do if you think your friend is in spiritual danger? In other words, if God returned today, do you have any friends who you believe are not in a saved condition?
And if so, what should you do? This scenario hit me in the face this week as I found out that an old college friend has fallen into a sinful lifestyle, and openly celebrates it on social media.
I wrote my friend in a private message that just because a person is tempted by a particular sin does not mean they have to fall so happily into it. Everyone, including every Christian (that means me, too), has something they struggle with. It is just part of being human. We are not robots programmed for only success or only failure. A loving God would not create us with a weakness that we could not overcome, and therefore be stuck with a spiritual death sentence. God actually gives us choices.
I am purposely not stating exactly what my old friend’s sin is because when it comes to falling into temptations, one sin can send us to hell just as quickly as the next. Willful sin is what happens when we choose to sin. All other sin is just a result of the fact that we are not perfect. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23).”
Both kinds of sin (Willful and unintentional) will send us to hell if not covered by the blood of Jesus. We are clothed in Jesus when we are baptized (Galatians 3:27). But when we choose to sin, we must make it right with God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” The unintentional sin is already covered (1 John 1:7) if the person has obeyed the Bible’s instructions on becoming a Christian.
James 5 indicates that prayer is a great place to start when trying to help a wayward friend. “19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back,20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).”
Scripture also tells us to talk directly to a fellow Christian who is in spiritual danger.
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother (Matthew 18:15)”.
It is difficult to stand by and watch the devil take hold of a Christian brother or sister. They may become angry with you even if your action is loving and patient. But if we do not pray and try to help them back into a good relationship with Christ, who will? Have a great week!
Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.