Earth seems like a big destination, but when you're headed there from the moon, being off course even a degree or two could be fatal. That's the dilemma the Apollo 13 astronauts and the command back on earth were facing. How do you get three men home without the normal and backup directional controls working when even the slightest error was so dangerous? Finally ground and lunar module crews created a plan which was dependent on turning on the rocket thrust at the critical moment. Vance Brand, the communicator, was to give the signal, "Mark!" at exactly forty seconds before the thrust. Somehow in the tension, he read the wrong clock and gave the command two minutes early. As the astronauts began the countdown, one of them noticed the error. How should Brand have responded to that correction? By being angry that someone had challenged him or upset that someone had pointed out he was wrong? Of course not! He must have been incredibly relieved that the error was noticed in time. If it is so obvious to us that Brand should have been thankful to have his mistake corrected, why don't we respond with thanks when someone points out our mistakes and sin so that we can get back on the right path that pleases the Lord? James 5:19-20 shows us a Christian's responsibility to lovingly correct other Christians, and, incidentally, to love to receive correction. Study the passage to learn more about this important and often neglected truth.
Ask the Lord to teach you from His Word so that you can think and live in a way that pleases Him.
Read Focus Verses
Read James 5:19-20 and notice the theme of these two verses that close the book of James.
What is the main idea of these verses?
Keyword - Convert
Marking the word convert or bring back in each of these verses will visually remind you of their theme.
Mark the word convert or bring back each time it appears in James 5:19-20.
Who is addressed in these verses (Hint: look at the beginning of verse 19)?
Who is the Christian to watch out for and help according to verse 19?
What has this second Christian done?
How is the first Christian to respond according to verse 19?
What motivation for doing this is offered in verse 20?
From what is the first Christian trying to bring back the second Christian?
What is the first result of this according to verse 20?
What is the second result of this according to verse 20?
A Little Background
Today's passage shows us what a big problem sin is. Let's go back and see why starting in Genesis 1:1.
Revelation 4:11 tells us what we should conclude about God because He is Creator.
Next read Genesis 1:26-27.
What do these verses tell us about God and our relationship to Him as people He has made?
We read the beginning of the story of sin entering the world in Genesis 2:15-17 when we read God's instruction to Adam.
Genesis 3:1-8 tells the next bit of the story.
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Romans 3:23 makes this more personal.
Breaking God's Law
1 John 3:4 defines sin for us in relation to God's law.
Romans 6:23 tells us what this means and offers hope.
What is sin according to the Bible? Why does it matter?
We've already seen a hint of the mercy God shows us in spite of our sin. Romans 5:6-8 tells us more.
2 Corinthians 5:21 explains this further.
John 3:16 tells us why God did this.
What did God do for us to give us hope? Why?
How does John 3:16 tell us we can receive God's gift of eternal life?
1 John 1:9 tells us what God does with a Christian's sin when they confess it to Him (agree with Him about it) and turn from it.
What does God do with a Christian's sin when they confess it to Him and turn from it?
What's the Problem
Perhaps you've wondered once a person is saved, what's the problem with them sinning? Romans 6:1-23 answers that question.
Psalm 66:18 tells us another consequence of unconfessed sin in a believer's life.
Ephesians 4:30 tells us another result of a Christian living in sin (the verses before and after this one list some specific sins Christians are to avoid).
When we read Matthew 5:16 we see that the opposite of this verse must be true when God's people sin.
1 Corinthians 11:30 tells us the solemn consequence for some sin - a consequence mentioned in today's passage.
What are some of the problems with and consequences of a Christian sinning according to these verses?
How does seeing something of the seriousness of sin help you understand why today's passage encourages Christians to help other Christians who are living in sin?
When we look at a Christian's responsibility toward other Christians, we understand today's passage even more fully. Consider what the Lord Jesus says in John 13:34-35.
In Hebrews 3:13 we see another responsibility Christians have toward each other.
Provoke to Good
Hebrews 10:24-25 reveals another of these responsibilities.
What kinds of responsibilities and care does God command His people to take for each other?
How does understanding the responsibility Christians have toward each other bring clarity to today's passage?
God tells us a lot of how to correct each other in Scripture. Consider what Galatians 6:1 says.
In what spirit and with what caution should a Christian correct another?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us what is the basis for Christian correction.
On What Grounds?
In what ways is the Bible the basis of a Christian's correction?
Romans 14:10-13 reminds Christians that in their correction they are not each other's judge.
Notice what Matthew 7:3-5 says about it.
Luke 17:3-10 tells us that forgiveness, however hard it may seem, is simply a matter of obedience.
Proverbs 17:9 instructs us about how we should (or shouldn't) talk about it with others.
In This Spirit
With what attitude should one Christian correct another?
If They Won't Listen
Matthew 18:15-17 answers the question, 'What if they don't listen?'
If a Christian has humbly tried to help another Christian see their sin and its consequences and lead them to the right path, but the other person won't listen, what is the biblical next step?
Proverbs 9:7-10 issues a warning to the person who is going to correct another.
But Proverbs 21:11 shows that sometimes there are still reasons to correct one who is scornful.
What contrast is presented in these verses?
The Bible also tells us a lot about how to receive instruction and correction. Consider Proverbs 10:17.
Compare that to Proverbs 12:1.
Proverbs 29:1 gives a severe warning to the one who hates correction.
Love or Hate
Proverbs 9:8-9 adds to this.
What kind of person loves correction?
Why should you love correction according to these verses (there are positive and negative motivators)?
Do What You Hear
How should you respond to correction? James 1:22-25 gives the first step.
2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us more.
Ephesians 4:28 shows us that sometimes there are things you need to make right with others.
Luke 22:32 reveals another step after turning away from sin back to Christ.
How does a wise Christian respond to correction according to the Bible?
Considering everything you've learned about sin and correction in this study, how should you think about correcting others?
Thinking Rightly 2
Considering everything you have seen in this study, how should you think about receiving correction and instruction?
Proverbs 28:23 motivates us to do what today's passage encourages.
Read James 5:19-20 once more in light of what you've seen in God's word.
In Your Words
Explain James 5:19-20 using your own words (and the passages you've studied).
This is the last study plan in the book of James. If you've been working through them, you might be encouraged by listening or reading through the book again and remembering some of the things the Lord has taught you. You could also consider listening to it regularly for a while when you drive, work out, or some other similar task to let it become part of your thinking.
How has what you've seen challenged the way you think about correcting others? What does God want you to change based on what you've seen in His Word?
How have you thought about receiving correction? How does what you've studied today challenge that? What needs to change about your thinking and reactions so that you love, seek, and accept correction wisely?
We hope this study has helped you understand why Christians should lovingly correct each other and has challenged you to love correction.
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