“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
As James concluded his epistle to those persecuted Christians of the 1st Century, he admonished them to “Do” what he has commanded them. God inspired James to issue over 54 imperatives (commands) in the 108 verses of his letter. His final words teach us the following:
1) We can Wander from God’s Way.
James, speaking to His “brethren”, i.e. Christians, implies that we can stray from God’s revealed will. We can easily rationalize our departures from His way of thinking and living as we think and do what pleases us instead.
2) Deviation is Deadly.
Wandering from God’s Way is not a minor offence without serious consequences. God’s Word is clear that “the wages of sin is death . . .” (Gen. 2:17, Romans 6:23, Proverbs 14:12, James 1:13-15). In his final sentence, James warns us that sin is a serious threat to our salvation.
3) Salvation Requires Repentance and Renunciation.
A wandering Christian must turn back, i.e. Repent! Our minds must change! We must realize that Sin and Satan make promises they cannot keep! Therefore, in order to be forgiven and saved we must change our minds, turn from our sin and back to God, renounce those sinful ways and, with God’s help, keep them behind us from now on!
4) Our Influence is Incalculable, Inescapable, Inestimable and Inevitable.
“No man is an Island” (John Donne). God, through James, wants us to realize that what we think and how we live inevitably affects everyone around us – for good or evil. James points out the responsibility we have been given. God wants to use each Christian to bring wandering brothers and sisters back to His way. And when we do, James encourages us to know just how important our obedience has been. Jesus said that we are the “salt of the earth”, the “light of the world” with incalculable influence on the lives of others.
Have you confessed your sin to God and received His forgiveness through faith in Jesus? Do you appreciate the seriousness of sin for unbelievers, and believers? Are you living in such a way that influences others to turn back to God?
God bless you richly, as you follow Jesus closely!
Pastor Tim Sir