What do we do when we notice sin in the life of a loved one? I imagine few welcome that conversation; fewer still know how to navigate it. The Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect Counselor. He provides us with a model to follow when these situations occur. Revelation 2:1-7 provides us with five keys for restoring a loved one in Christ.*
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:1–7)
Always begin with encouragement. Just as a farmer tills the field for a fruitful crop, so too do words of encouragement help prepare a heart. In Ephesus, for example, Jesus determined to address a sin that needed attention. He began with nine (!) different encouragements. The word “and” appears nine times in vv.2-3 to create a chain of uplifting encouragements.
Jesus identifies the sin in v.4. While some may view an honest identification of sin as unloving, it is one of the most loving things we can do for a brother/sister in Christ. It’s important to note that Scripture commands us to do this (Matt 18:15, Gal 6:1). Best of all, it teaches us how we are to do this: gently (Gal 6:1), without hypocrisy (Matt 7:3-5), privately—if possible (Matt 18:15-17). You may be surprised at how God will use your faithfulness in the response.
“Knock it off” doesn’t work. Jesus provided the church with both a mandate (v.4) and the means to accomplish it (v.5). For you and I, that means some forethought is put into these kinds of conversations. When we do this, we come as an ally of the brother/sister—ready to walk the road with them, caring about their journey.
Encourage some more.
I take v.6 to be yet another word of encouragement from the Lord (the total is now 10!). Notice the placement of this timely word: it came after the exhortation. Jesus is not going to let His beloved out of the conversation without more encouragement! Neither should we.
A large portion of the “Christian hope” is grounded in what is to come. It is entirely appropriate to keep looking to the future kingdom, eternity with Christ, and reward as we persevere in this life. Jesus offers hope in what is to come for His people at Ephesus (v.7).
The keys for restoration from sin may be used in a multitude of scenarios in life. From challenging conversations with spouses, to parenting, to conflicts in the church—our Lord has given us what we need to handle the tough conversations. May the Lord give you the spiritual fortitude to walk in grace!
*Revelation 2:1-7 is the foundational Scripture for our Men’s Small Group study. Christ’s message to the church in Ephesus has significant application for us at Immanuel.
With the affection of Christ, Pastor Michael