Life-Giving Restoration

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 3/14/2021

Beside clear, compelling, gospel preaching. . . (and please don’t always assume that is happening). . . there is no more pressing need in the modern church than for “Life-giving Restoration.” A good friend of mine loves restoring cars. I won’t say his name because he doesn’t like getting too much attention! Behind his house he has a large shop that contains dozens of classic cars. Every so often, total strangers will drive up and ask, “What you got stored back there in your building?”

People can be so nosy! But it's truly remarkable how he literally takes something most people would consider a heap of garbage metal (a bucket of rust) but then restore it to mint condition! He has several cars that were made of wood. Oh boy, the woodworking in me comes alive. To restore a wooden car, you have to create special jigs, and find the exact, perfect wood, and painstakingly hand-craft, hand-sand, hand-finish, hand-fit each and every piece. It’s insane and takes years.

It’s a metaphor for how the gospel works. God the Father created us in his perfect image; he knows our true value, our true worth. Despite our wrongdoing and sin, God still loves us. In Christ, God rescues us, washes us, forgives us, justifies us, takes us "rust-buckets", takes us "junk-piles", and makes us his treasured possessions. The moment we hear the gospel and believe in Jesus we belong to God! But then God wheels us into his Kingdom, fills us with the Holy Spirit, and painstakingly begins to restore us in the exact image of his Son, Jesus Christ. Sanctification is a lifelong work that never ends this side of glory. But how beautiful it is to see lives fully restored BY GOD, IN CHRIST, THROUGH THE WORKING OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT.

We are not merely spectators. We are co-laborers with God. Yes, we preach and clarify and contend for the gospel that people might believe. But we also participate in the Spirit’s work of “restoration.” God isn’t just a “soul collector”, he is a “soul restorer.” The church isn’t just a collection of souls. We’re a place of restoration and life change—God transforming each and every one of us into his very own holy image and likeness! But this isn’t how people approach church these days.

Allow me to begin with… A very common scenario: Wrongdoing! Galatians 6:1, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing. . .” When you look at this verse, what do you consider the likelihood to be, that you or someone in the body of Christ, might be overtaken by sin, by wrongdoing, by the flesh?

Last week we looked at Galatians 5:19-21? “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

There are four categories of evildoing listed here. First, we have the whole spectrum of sexual wrongdoing (immorality, impurity, promiscuity). Second we have heart-seducing, mind-altering cultic sins (idolatry/sorcery). Third we have relationally destructive sins (hatreds, strife, jealous, outbursts of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, faction-building, envy). And fourth, we have sins of fleshly excess (drunkenness and carousing). And in every one of Paul’s books there are other such lists, containing specific sins specific to those fellowships.

But the issue is this. A person who continuously, rebelliously, practices “anything similar” or “such things” will not inherit the kingdom of God! Now my question is how do you understand Paul’s warning here? If God’s will is “restoration” but you are willfully corrupting yourself (or worse corrupting others), how do you see that playing out? A little leaven leavens the whole dough. A little bad corrupts a lot of good. A little rust unattended soon corrodes the whole!

A very common scenario in the church is that there is going to be sin and wrongdoing! And sin left unattended, unconfronted, is not only physically lethal (leading to death), but spiritual lethal (leading to eternal death). So, let’s next talk about a very uncommon scenario. . .

A very uncommon scenario: Restoration! Galatians 6:1, “. . . you who are spiritual, [should] restore such a person. . .” What would happen if God’s business with people’s souls (gospel preaching unto faith and justification in Christ … whole life sanctification into the fullness of Christ). . . what if God’s business were to become all of our business too?

I’m thinking of Galatians 1:10 where Paul says, “… Am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

That’s the problem in the church today. Pastors want to please people. Churches crave populist appeal. Parents want to be the friend or part of their child’s peer group. Brothers and sisters in Christ don’t want to make waves. We rather overlook sin and wrongdoing, be loved and liked, than concern ourselves with a person’s soul. We’re not serving Christ, we’re slaves to our social needs and desires.

If you are part of the church… your soul is other people’s business. . . other people’s souls are your business. . . and God’s restoration business is our business.

Galatians 5:16-17:“I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.” Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

So, a very common scenario in the church is sin and wrongdoing. But a very uncommon scenario is restoration—that we’d speak up, and act courageously—whenever a brother or sister is overtaken by their flesh. Or that they would seek our restoration should we be the one who stumbles. Let’s talk a few moments about a very needed scenario.

A Very Needed Scenario: The Art of Restoration. We need Spirit-led brothers and sisters to step in, to get their hands dirty in the work of restoration. Restoration isn’t demolition. Any fool can take a sledgehammer, a stick of dynamite, and utterly destroy another believer. But what’s needed is patience, prayer, skill, finesse, and intentionality. In Galatians 6:1-5 Paul describes several keys to restoration. Let’s take these verses phrases by phrase and make a list.

First, Restoration Requires Directness. Galatians 6:1. “You who are spiritual" (Spirit-governed—walking in the Spirit—keeping in the step with the Spirit—not practicing works of the flesh) “ought to restore [the wrongdoer.]” Wrongdoing is everyone’s business. We are here serving Christ’s interests, not our own.

Second, Restoration Requires Gentleness. Galatians 6:1, “restore. . . with a gentle spirit.” Remember the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Directness and gentleness aren’t antithetical. We are to be gently direct about things of eternal consequence. Think of a surgeon operating on a cancer. You want a surgeon who gently but directly confronts what threatens life.

Third, Restoration Requires Caution. Galatians 6:1, “restore… watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.” I’ve seen it time and again, and it has become a point of caution for me. A Spirit-led man or woman, succumbing to the very sins they are seeking to restore their brother or sister from. When it comes to restoration, it is so important we get prayed up, and that we stay rooted in accountable relationships. In the context of spiritual discipline and restoration Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “where two or three are gathered...there I am.” How dangerous it is to do God’s work alone. Nobody is invincible, we’re all prone to wander.

Fourth, Restoration Requires Servanthood. Galatians 6:2, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What was Jesus critique of the Pharisees? It wasn’t that they taught righteousness, or even practiced righteousness. It was that in prescribing righteousness, they would tie up enormous soul-crushing burdens on people and not so much as lift a finger to help them! Matthew 23:4, “They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.”

Even when we are careful, this is what our preaching, teaching, parenting, discipleship… our church discipline and restoration… can become! We can sure pile on the guilt and shame, judgement and condemnation, legalism and works. A legalistic Pharisee never says, “Let me help you… let me serve you… let me lighten your load… let me come alongside… let me carry some of that…”

We’re pro-life, but will we support a young mother financially and relationally? We preach purity, but will we show hospitality, and lessen the financial hardship, so that young couple doesn’t have to live together before marriage? We preach reconciliation, but are we willing to be the peacemaker and stand in the gap and be the bridge between hostile parties? Drive by guilting is not restoration. Help carry the burden.

Fifth, Restoration Requires Humility. Galatians 6:3-4, “For if anyone considers himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else.” Restoration has nothing to do with being better, or holier, above or below another person. Restoration is all about becoming holy like Christ. There is absolutely no room for pride—and should you struggle with pride you only need to examine yourself, and compare yourself, to Christ Jesus.

Last, Restoration Requires Healthy Fear. Galatians 6:5, “For each person will have to carry his own load.” Wait a minute, didn’t Paul just say were to carry each other’s loads? This is Paul way of reminding us that one day we will individually stand accountable before God alone. God will judge every word and deed. Every secret of our hearts will be laid bare. Sin and wrongdoing aren’t trivial matters.

Let me end with an Often Neglected Scenario: Thanking Your Restorers. Galatians 6:6, “Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher.” A person who seeks to restore you has demonstrated tremendous courage to speak truth in love with you. Maybe they did it well. Maybe they were too heavy on truth, or too heavy on grace. There is no greater thanks than going to that person and saying, “Thank you. Here is what the Spirit is doing now.”

Scripture Verses

Galatians 1:10; 2:20; 5:16-25; 6:1-6

Worship Playlist

Glorious Day by Passion

Ever Be by Bethel

Holy Spirit by Jesus Culture

Scandal of Grace by Hillsong

Study Questions

1. Why should we be looking out for other Christians who are “overtaken in wrong-doing”(vs. 1)? Why is Christian community imperative in living for Christ?

2. Why is it so important that we follow the commands to have a gentle spirit, watch out, and consider yourself nothing when restoring a brother or sister in Christ?

3. When have you stumbled into wrong-doing and been restored? Did it feel like someone was helping you carry a burden out of love?

4. What is needed to help someone stuck in sin? What do you need when you are stuck in sin?

5. It isn’t stated explicitly, but what do you think is the law of Christ?

Apply It!