James 5:19-20 (NKJV)19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Today we close our series of exhortations from the book of James. And it is fitting that the book closes with a promise that James himself kept in mind as he wrote his epistle. He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
James wrote his epistle to encourage his audience to love, serve, and obey the Lord with fullness of joy and diligence. He wrote to those who were tempted to compromise; tempted to soften the demands of the Lord and Savior Jesus. He wrote to call them back to their senses – call them back to righteousness and holiness. Why? So that he might turn their souls from death and cover a multitude of sins.
The way of sin, in other words, is the way of death. When we walk down the path of transgression, we are walking the path of death. Satan lured our mother Eve to sin by promising the knowledge of good and evil – if you eat of the fruit then you will have a true and full life.
But Satan was a liar from the beginning. What he really held out before Eve was not life but death, not liberty but slavery, not knowledge but ignorance. And when Eve ate of the fruit, she plunged headlong into destruction. And when Adam joined her, the fate of mankind was sealed. We became corrupt, demented, distorted, full of wickedness and deceit, the living dead.
But Jesus came to give us life, to free us from the ghoulish state of unbelief. He came to breathes into us the breath of life so that once again we might become real men, freed from the curse of unbelief. But what are we tempted to do? We are tempted to forget; tempted to wander away from the one who has loved us and given himself for us; tempted to embrace once again the culture of death. And so James reminds us – he who rescues an erring brother, rescues him from death.
And so this morning, let us be reminded to pray for all those who have turned from the truth and who are walking in the paths of death. In particular, let us pray for ——–. And let us also pray that God would forgive us for so often believing the lies of the evil one and embracing the culture of death. Let us kneel together.