Defusing Bombs

Stress is part and parcel of our jobs. A person who works at McDonalds feels the stress of the lunch hour rush, while doctors feel the stress of the long lists of patients to attend. Yet I believe the job of the brave specialists called in to disable live bombs has to be one of the most stressful jobs. One wrong move and the bomb will explode, leaving death in its path.

We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are called on from time-to-time to disable bombs. Paul writes,

Brothers, if a person is overtaken in any trespass, you the spiritual ones must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, looking to yourself lest you also become tempted (Galatians 6:1).

If I am to be any good at disabling spiritual bombs, I must be in a place of spiritual sobriety. Spiritual ones, a person who is walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25), are called to do this work. The person who needs the help of the spiritual one is the person “overtaken” in a sin. According to the Greek, a person overtaken in sin refers to a person who falls into some act. He is taken (passive voice) by some outside force. This outside force stems from the lust of one’s own heart and is some particular thing that draws the person. The person who is overtaken is overcome by his lust or temptation. We can argue that it is the person’s fault for not walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), or we can argue that the person gave in since he did not make any provision to avoid certain temptations. Nevertheless, the person was overtaken by the temptation in his weakness. What are we to do in such a case? Are we to abandon the person who sinned and remind him that this is his fault for falling in the first place?

To pass by the person who sinned is not a viable option. I have to be in a place in my life where I am sensitive and obeying the Spirit. I am commanded to restore the believer who is overtaken in sin. Now contrary to what is commonly said, the imperative “restore” is not a medical term, but rather the word means to “mend, put in order.”  When a person is overtaken by sin and needs help, we need to be there to put the person back in order. Sin ruins things, and we need to restore the repentant sinner. Often restoration takes time. Accountability must be established to keep them from falling again. Yet, the person who restores must be very careful. In the nature of spiritual warfare, the person who restores may be tempted with the same iniquity that overtook the brother who sinned, or even tempted by a different sin that can leave one on the receiving end of restoration.  Restoration is to be done with gentleness and humility, not with condemnation and judgment (Gal 6:1).

In restoring a person who sinned, you and I are to bear the burden that has overtaken the weaker believer (Gal 6:2) and in this regard, you and I are like Christ.  One possible roadblock to restoration is a wrong attitude on my part.  If, for example, I am disgusted with the sin and the person who has done the sin, then I may refuse to restore them. Ignoring the person is not an option. It is natural to not like sin. In fact, we should hate sin. But let us use our indignation for something positive. We should hate the sin that has brought down our brother and hurt the testimony of Christ. We should put our energy into righting that which sin has wronged.

I have not fully covered Paul’s entire discussion on this topic (v 3-5), but I would like, in closing, to consider a few items:

  1. We need to walk with the Lord so He can use us to restore a repentant believer.
  2. We need to be willing to help that person and not pass them up in disgust.
  3. We need to be humble while restoring, knowing that we stand by the grace of Christ

If we consider these three things, we can be used to defuse a bomb in someone’s life and divert disaster and hurt.