What do we do when someone we love, someone we know has accepted Jesus as their Savior, is allowing a particular sin to become bigger than their relationship with God?
What do we do when we see them walking dangerously close to the edge of a choice that will harden their hearts and bring along with it the painful consequences of habitual sin?
The Bible tells us we must warn them. We must urge them not to let it take the place of God in their heart. We must beg them to turn away from it. To repent.
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:13 NLT)
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:21 NLT)
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. (Acts 3:19 NLT)
But what if they don’t heed our warnings? What if they lose their footing and slide down the embankment into habitual sin? What do we do then?
We reach out our hand – making sure our feet our firmly planted so we don’t fall, too – and we help them back onto the right path. We make it known that though we hate the sin that is contaminating their life, we love them. And that God loves them, too. We continue to build them up. We never stop praying.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. (Galatians 6:1 NLT)
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (Jude 20-23 NLT)
Never stop praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT)
And if they do turn from their sin and come back to Jesus, we celebrate with The Lord! There is great joy in heaven when a sinner repents!
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
(Luke 15:4-7 NLT)