Converting the Backslider
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner [the sinful] from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 NKJV
To be converted is to revert back or turn back to the Lord. When a believer returns to the Lord, it is called restoration, but restoration is the result of repentance. There are so many disillusioned and wounded believers who have stumbled, slipped, or failed in some way who need to be converted, i.e., repent, restored and returned back to the Lord.
A believer who wanders away from the truth, and begins to live a life inconsistent with his or her beliefs, is living in sin. Now, there is much disagreement over whether or not it is impossible for a believer to lose their salvation (See Heb. 10:14), but all agree that those who move away from their faith need to repent and be restored to the Lord.
How do you convert the backslider? Psalm 19:7 gives the perfect prescription: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). The Word of God is perfect and has the power to convert the soul when spoken in love and compassion. God’s sure testimony throughout the scriptures is: “O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).
In out text above, the Apostle James urged believers to help the backslider by taking the initiative, to pray for him or her, act in love, and meet the backslider where they are. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did for Peter when he backslid? (See Luke 22:31-34; John 21:15-17). In addition, the Apostle Paul instructed the believers of Galatia to bear and share the backslider’s burden: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:1-3). So, reject religion and false tradition in ostracizing and judging and condemning backsliders, and practice unconditional love and acceptance. Love not only covers a multitude of sin, it covers all sin, too. (Prov. 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8).