I’ve been doing a lot of restoration work in sin contexts with leaders, marriages, and all sorts of situations. As I’ve tried to think of it biblically, I’m trying to put it in steps:

1. Confession: talk about what happened, taking full responsibility for what I have done. Others will need to help in getting that straight. When the problem involves deception, getting confirmation from other people or a polygraph may be essential. The confession cannot involve manipulative phrases like “I’m sorry” or “Please forgive me.” That comes later, but at this stage, the others are under heavy pressure to say “It’s OK.”

2. Repentance: this is change of values, not just behavior. Think of Jimmy Swaggart weeping away in front of the world and then going right back to his trash.

3. Redemption: come out of the bad place. That place might be emotional, social, spiritual or physical. It may involve counselors or physicians or pastors to help with the movement.

4. Restitution: this may be monetary, confession/apology to others, clearing the name of someone who has been slandared, etc.

5. Reconciliation: clearing up the relational damage done by the sin. Normal relationships with trust and openness cannot happen until this occurs.

6. Restoration: this will be through several levels with any kind of leadership occuring only after the trust has been restored. 1 Timothy 5:19-22 is a great passage. Don’t be too quick to entertain either accusation or restoration.

One must NEVER do step 6 before going through the other steps. So often the sinner is really only interested in what minimal steps need to be taken to get back into the place of leadership (see Saul in 1 Samuel 15). There is no basic change. Work through the steps deliberately and carefully.

I’m interested in any suggestions on this process.

4 thoughts on “Restoration

  1. I resonate with some of the above about the need for adequate understanding of repentance. Martin Luther’s first statement in the 95 theses was that ‘all of life is repentance’. I, too, have noticed that many Christians (or non-believers) have a cheap view of repentance, settling for a worldly sorrow of ‘I’m sorry’ and hoping to somehow get better. But it is in fact so much more, from a biblical perspective.

    I wonder, Gerry, if much of what you wrote on ‘restoration’ is more closely connected with the holistic process of repentance (i.e. bearing fruit in keeping with repentance).

    Altogether, though, good stuff to chew on and practice in ministry.

  2. Gerry,

    Your framework is scriptural. However, the greatest challenge facing Christians today is that of genuine repentance.

    I would submit to you that this presents a greater challenge than is first apparent for the simple reason that genuine repentance, outside a true understanding of sin and God’s Holiness, is impossible. If people really understood that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, if they really understood the parable of the wedding banquet (for example), you would have genuine repentance. But when was the last time you heard a preacher correctly expound on the parable of the wedding banquet? Who wants to hear about the guest being thrown out of the banquet for not having his wedding garments on? No one. Exposit that truthfully and prepare to lose 80% of your congregation and your job as a pastor. Because people do not want to fear God. They want His grace but they don’t want His justice or His commands. Hence the state of Christianity today in the West for the most part, defeated and in continual rebellion. 30% of pastors viewing pornography, 50% of christian men addicted to such. Can God hear their prayers when such iniquity abounds?

    God’s grace will not be trampled upon. If a fallen leader truly believes this, one would have much more confidence in following the 6 steps without loss of effectiveness at any of the intermediary steps. But the problem today is that the teaching of eternal security/OSAS and even perseverance of the saints is being abused for a license to sin. We can deny that, we can say that in theory these doctrines should not lead to this abuse, but nevertheless this is the cold hard reality. Facts and statistics are stubborn things.

    To truly restore the church, we need to restore the teaching that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is ONLY within that context, that one can find genuine restoration through faith in Christ’s power to deliver and abide in us.

  3. Hi Gerry,

    I wholeheartedly agree with the last step. I know in my sin and separation from leadership, I look back and see that I was way too eager to strive for leadership responsibility again. Even though I felt horrible about my sin and truly believed that God was ready to crush me (He wasn’t) I was wanting to “hurry” and get restored. Thankfully my accountability team (apparently it took more than 1 person to hold me accountable) slowed me down and got me on the path to thinking through my sin issues.

    Had I rushed in too fast, I wouldn’t have seen what the real sin issue was (pride). I would have thought my main issue was lust or adultery and would have just settled with setting boundaries to not hang around women. But in recognizing the deeper issue was different, I was able to make big strides in tackling the main thing.

    Though I am involved in leadership now, it’s been over 5 years of still growing. Had I thought it would have even still taken this long, I would have abandoned it all together, but again, I am so thankful for those that were around me keeping me on the right path. Major praise to Jesus!

  4. Gerry,
    I think the whole process will only work if a person works through your NC Model of Sanctification first. Until a person really processes, in a community of grace, the benefits of obedience and consequences of disobedience; and is fully convinced of what will make them most deeply happy none of these steps will be real and effectual. Without working through this confession will be less than total, repentance is not genuine, and the rest of the steps cannot truly happen.

    I actually have been pounding the NC model into the heads of the college students at SWBC every week as we work through Respectable Sins. If you look on that blog address I listed above you can see a paper I wrote up on ‘how to defeat sin and temptation’ based on the method. Check it out if you have some time. Id love any feedback you have for me.


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