With the brethren and with God
Psa 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psa 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
When a Christian gets out of sorts with other Christians or God, the joy that they once experienced with their salvation is held captive by anger, bitterness, self-pity, and every other emotion that is geared to destroy our walk with the Lord. The songs of Zion are gone. The backslidden child quits, they weep, they remember, and they lose the song in their heart. The goals of these eight lessons are:
1) To show the Christian the error of their ways using God’s Word as the guideline.
2) To revive the spirit of wisdom that has been smothered by unclear and misguided thinking.
3) To restore them back into the unity of their God and His body; the church.
4) To restore that joy back where they will once again be able to lift up their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
5) To get them back into the service of the King.
To restore a brother or sister back into the fold or back with God is as important to Him as one who accepts His Son as Lord and Savior. But there is a set order in which the backslidden Christian should follow in order to get back in good fellowship with God. It’s found in Lk.15: 17-20
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
1) You must get an understanding of the situation you are in.(He came to himself.) Self-denial, blame shifting and finger pointing does nothing but fool you into believing that everyone else but you is at fault in the situation. And while you are looking at the problem through biased eyes, you haven’t been looking at the Bible sitting on the shelf, nor have you realized that the time that once was spent in prayer is now spent in a magazine, newspaper, or the television, or you’ve used the time to complain and gossip to others about how unfair the whole thing is! Understand this; that your life is in turmoil which can (and will!) spill over into your family’s walk. You will have no peace until you realize that; although it might not be your entire fault, more times than not, you’ve had a hand in it.
2) You determine that you will get things right. ( I will arise) The next phase after coming to yourself is making it a priority to get things right, first with the one (or ones) you’ve had a falling out with, and then with the Lord. Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. When the Holy Spirit convicts you to get things right, do not procrastinate. Make it right. In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. Prov 14:23
3) You acknowledge your wrong. (I have sinned) Right here is the key to reconciliation, to admit that you are wrong. Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
When we admit our errors and mistakes, we are in fact humbling ourselves to the person (or persons) in asking their forgiveness. This kind of spirit is what God wants from His children. Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
But unfortunately, one of the hardest sins we as Christians have to deal with is the sin of stubbornness. 1 Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. The word iniquity here comes from the Greek word anomia, which means lawlessness. God likens a stubborn man to be without law and a worshipper of false gods. This is a serious comparison. The Lord wants us to acknowledge what we’ve done, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and advance in our walk for Him. 2 Pet 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is one that was left out, and that is:
4) You must be willing to accept the consequences for your actions. (Am no more worthy) Prov.29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low (the prodigal was in the pigpen when all forsook him): but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. (The father clothed him with the best robe, he put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and killed the fatted calf.) Yes, the Lord will forgive you and cleanse and restore the fellowship with Him, but there is another factor involved: Josh 22:20 …Man perished not alone in his iniquity. When a Christian gets angry or bitter at God, the church, or other brethren, they need to remember that they are not the only ones affected by their spiritual condition. Husbands, wives, children, friends, family and so on are the recipients of the anger, hurt or whatever it is that has taken the place of their spiritual peace and it does take its toll. In a matter of minute, words that are spewed out in anger against God, the church, or the brethren in the presence of young ears will produce the fruit that; either intentionally or unintentionally, the speaker planted by their words. And it could take days, weeks, and sometimes-even years to weed out the bad that was produced, if it can be weeded out at all! Psa.59:7 Behold, they belch out (to erupt or explode) with their mouth: swords are in their lips: (used to tear up and destroy) for who, say they, doth hear?
5) Action is put behind the words (And he arose and came to his father) The prodigal could have made all kinds of promises to himself on how he was going to get things right, how he was going to turn his life around, how he was going to go to church every Sun., and on and on. But had he not gotten up out of the pigpen and went, those words would have been meaningless. Words without actions are dead. How many do we know that say all kinds of things, but there is no backing to support what they say. Although I’m sure there are more, listed are six reasons why the average Christian does not get the situation corrected between them and others:
1) Procrastination “I’ll do it later”
2) Slothfulness “I don’t feel like doing it right now”
3) Pride “It’s not me that has the problem, it’s them”
4) Anger “I’m not ready to get things right just yet”
5) Self-denial “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal”
6) Self-protection “I don’t want or need any more conflicts”
Whatever the reason or excuse, the backslidden Christian has no real peace until they correct the matter and are back in fellowship with the Lord and each other. Four basic principles to follow are:
1) Want to be restored. Psa 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
2) Prove you want to be restored. Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
3) Believe you will be restored. Isa.57:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
4) Give thanks for when you are restored. Psa 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psa 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Prov 13:19 The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.
Isa 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.