Wandering or Drifting

Scripture: James 5:19-20, NLT

19 My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.


19 My brethren,  20 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.


19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.


Both Wiersbe and Tasker agree that James is still on the subject of prayer. We it comes to restoring a brother, which may be more difficult than reaching a lost person, prayer in sorely needed.

I. THE TRUTH [word of God]

Christian “Truth” differs somewhat from scientific truth. Christian truth is always moral. You could believe something false about thermodynamics and it would not effect your life but when we deviate from Christian truth, it leads to a moral decline.

In all fairness, we have something going for us that the first century Christians did not have and that is a BIBLE. Our forefathers have canonized the holy scriptures so that we have a clear road map. False teachers abound where there are no lines of orthodoxy drawn in the sand. Today we have a guideline, a clear objective before us and it is the Bible. If a preacher gets beyond the guidelines of scripture, he can be easily identified as a false teacher.

  • Christian truth is something we should LOVEHe {antichrist] will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. [2 Thes. 2:10]
  • Christian truth is something we should OBEY You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. [Galatians 5:7-8]
  • Christian truth is something we should DEMONSTRATEWe reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. [2 Cor. 4:2]
  • Christian truth is something we SPEAK IN LOVE We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love. [Ephesians 4:14-15]
  • Christian truth is something we MUST WITNESS TOI was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” [John 18:37]
  • Christian truth is something which LIBERATES— “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[John 8:32]
  • Christian truth is something Illuminated by the HOLY SPIRIT When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. [John 16:13-14]

Let me give you an example of how the truth can be twisted into a lie. Origen said, “Man may gain remission of his sins by doing six things:

  1. Baptism
  2. Martyrdom
  3. Almsgiving
  4. Forgiving Others
  5. Love
  6. Converting a sinner

[Origen was wrong]


 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses[i] and the prophets long ago.22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

We are saved by grace through faith: Salvation is a gift of God, it is not our works. It that we true, we would boast.

II. THE TASK [turning a brother from error]

Paul said is Galatians 6…Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin [trespass, fault], 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.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

I say without hesitation or reservation that restoring a brother is the most difficult task in ministry. Why? Because a lot of folks blame their drifting on someone else and you are dealing with a root of bitterness which makes them unapproachable.

  1. To restore a brother–you have to CARE, a lot. People who are willing to bear your burdens care.  You can’t fake love in the matter of restoration. No one needs to even attempt reconciliation until they are assured their motivation is love.
  2. You have to be HUMBLE. This means, you have to consider yourself…what would you do in similar circumstances. You have to acknowledge your weakness and vulnerability. We can’t approach with a “better than thou” attitude.
  3. You have to be GENTLE–it didn’t happen over night and will not be fixed over night. It will take time and encouragement. There is a difference between a nudge and a push. Most folks don’t like to be pushed.
  4. You have to be CAREFUL–The fact that you have pointed out a sin or error puts you at risk. You have to be willing to take those risk but if you aren’t careful, you will get caught up in the very thing you spot in your brother.


The writer of Hebrews said,  So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.  

  • To drift is to be carried slowly by a current of air,water, or social trends.
  • Drifter don’t fight the current. When we get lazy, we are bound to drift.
  • In the spiritual sense, we always drift away from, not toward. Things like Evangelism and Missions have to be intentional. We are not going to drift toward them any more than we will drift toward God.
  • Usually drifting is a slow process…
    • We begin to stay home during special events, like Block Parties, Visitation, Mission and Ministry Projects.
    • Then we stop participating in fellowships: it is never a good sign when people refuse to eat with you. It generally means, they don’t like you are feel superior to you.
    • Then we stop attending PM services
    • Then Bible Study
    • Then Sunday worship, instead of being regular attenders, we become infrequent attenders. Some stay in this pattern for life others quit all together.
  • Danger in drifting…some drifters never come back [like the generation of Israelite’s who died in the wilderness] Some drifters take others with them.