We’re not all perfect and we do err. Paul told the Romans that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans ). But how do people err? There are several ways that this can occur. One way is through ignorance. Jesus said “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” (Mark ). Some do not even take the time to understand the scriptures and as a result will continue in ignorance all their lives. Some have professed Jesus Christ but then stray from the faith as Paul points out in I Timothy 6:21. In this day and time deception plays a key role with why people err. People want to believe something so bad that they will practically do anything to twist the scriptures to make it fit their liking, or they’ll try to find a church that is teaching all the things that “they” agree with, not that they are right in the sight of God. People are deceived and do not test the spirits to find out if it is indeed the “oracles of God.” We can know the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Take a few moments to read I John 4:1-6. These few passages clearly point out the differences. People often err because of weakness. Our fleshly bodies are weak and have a tendency to give into temptation. That is why Jesus warns “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). It takes an effort on our part to keep ourselves focused on Jesus Christ and his righteousness.
Covetousness causes people to err. Many good Christian brethren have fallen due to covetousness. Paul tells Timothy that “the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy. ). There is yet another cause that is hurting the church today and that is that Christian brethren begin to err because of the company they keep. Paul warned “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians ). Again deception plays a part in this area and if we are not careful we will separate ourselves from the Lord. We need to be very careful who we associate with.
When we see erring brethren we have a responsibility to get them back on the path that leads to heaven. We need to warn against err when we see it happening as pointed out in Matthew and Luke 11:3. We need to admonish them—let them know that they are not behaving in a godly manner (II Thessalonians ). In addition we need to pray for them (James ), convert them back to Christianity (James ), and restore them (Galatians 6:1). When we talk to a brother or sister that is erring we need to be careful about how we handle the situation. Getting angry, upset, and mad at them will not usually turn them around. We are to deal with the erring gently. Paul taught the Galatian brethren that “a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians. 6:1). See also Hebrews 5:2. No one is perfect as I pointed out at the front of this article and we need to ensure that we treat others as we would like to be treated in any given situation (Matthew 7:12).
A spirit of gentleness will go much further in restoring an erring brother than a tough “I’m better than you” attitude.
Once one realizes the error of their way, then they can return to the fold by repenting (Acts Revelation 2:5), confessing (James ; I John 1:9), and by praying to God for forgiveness of their sins (Acts ). Afterward, we have a duty toward the erring. We must forgive them (II Corinthians 2:7), love them (II Corinthians 2:8), and comfort them (II Corinthians 2:7). We should actively strive to restore any erring brother because it is our duty (Matthew ) and it is our goal to want to save all from the grasp of Satan, so that all can be saved (James ).