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KING'S COMMENTARY: Restoring a backslider, Part 1

Ryan King

By Ryan King

James 5:19-20

Several years ago when my oldest son was six, he decided he was done living in our house with our rules and declared he was going to run away.

He stood at the corner of the yard for a long time looking down the street. I was out doing yard work and would glance from time to time to watch the little boy with the backpack on. I looked up again to check and saw that he was gone! Panic filled my heart, and as I ran to the corner I wondered how far he would get. He was at the end of the block – about three houses down – standing at the crosswalk pondering how he was going to get across.

Together Dad and wayward boy, hand in hand, made their way back home.

It can be scary when one that you love wanders away.

James follows his progression from physical healing to spiritual healing, and he’s not done yet. Now he is addressing the backslider; the Christian who has wandered away from the Way.

(Jas 5:19a) Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth...

A sad reality is that sometimes one of the family wanders away.

We see this clearly in Gal. 6:1-2

This passage is for us. This is for when one of us is in trouble. As mentioned previously, this is where the connecting, the mutual accountability comes in.

Families aren’t allowed to be indifferent, not to care. Just as I was concerned when my son wandered away, we ought to be concerned when one in the midst of our church wanders away. We’re still family.

The word James uses means to wander, and we have this word picture of someone wandering around aimlessly in the Judean desert.

This is the picture, that they have left the oasis of God’s love, and traded it in for the barren wasteland of the world.

In fact, Jeremiah puts it this way. (Jer 2:13) For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

We also see that this person has wandered away from the truth.

The way James has treated truth is that it is more than simply intellectual agreement.

Truth is something you do. Action is always connected to our belief system.

How we really view God affects what we do. If we have a faulty belief system (bad theology), this will affect the way we act. This wandering has action behind it.

Now, this wandering can be in one of two categories, but more often than not, are connected.

They can wander morally. (2Ti 4:10) For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

With Demas, something or someone other than God grabbed his affections, his emotions. He was overtaken, chose not to escape it.

They can wander doctrinally. (2Ti 4:14-15) Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

Alexander had theological problems and had wandered from the truth.

Friends, when one of our family goes a-wandering, may we live out the words of Paul.

(Gal 6:1-2) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

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