1 Jan 2003

Dealing with a brother who has caused much hurt?

Submitted by theshovel
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How do I deal with another believer who has caused not a few people (including myself) hurt and who attends the same church? ... this person believes he/she is justified in their actions. ... How does God allow this person to get away with such things? anonymous

Excellent question. I love your questions because they are real questions of real things in your life and not just hypothetical situations of an intellectual nature. Thank you very much for that. :)

There are only two ways to deal with anybody: according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. Now what does that mean in your real-life scenario? Also, please take your time with this as I realize that I am giving you a huge chunk to chew on.

The fact is that you probably already find yourself going back and forth in trying to deal with this person and trying to ignore him, huh? After all, if God has forgiven this person then I should also, right? But then again, if this person keeps justifying his actions and keeps hurting people then shouldn't I do something about it? And your head is probably spinning from it all. If this happens to be hitting the nail on the head it won't be because I've been spying on your thought patterns. No, not at all. For you to ask this question presupposes that it's been bothering you and I just fill in the blanks from my own experiences. And amazingly I find that many others have been where I have been.

You stated in your letter that your relationship with this person has been mended ... but has it really? Could it simply be that the two of you just aren't involved in each others lives enough to let you know that the wound in your relationship is still there? That's called coping. I don't say that to make it sound like a bad thing, but to ask you if it could be the case.

How you are to deal with this person is the same as how you are to deal with yourself. How you are to deal with yourself is the same as how God deals with you. How God deals with you is based on the new creation He brought about in Christ.

Now, contrary to the common belief that grace means that we don't address such problems in each others lives is bogus, it is actually just the opposite. For the truth of the matter is that we have been brought into the reality where we can truly address what is REALLY going on. Everything we learned in this world, including and especially the religious world, never, ever dealt with reality, but with issues and formulas and illusions ... you know, surface stuff.

What I mean by that is simple. We learned to evaluate based on a performance standard (modified by our own likes or dislikes) and our way of dealing with one another has been in direct relation to how others rated by this standard. Their wrongness or rightness was determined by the standard. We ask the question, How does God allow a person to get away with such things?, based on the evaluation of our performance standard forgetting that according to such standards somebody is probably looking at us at the same time wondering the same thing about us. That is the ministry of law, which is condemnation. No, I'm not suggesting that we EXCUSE one another, for that is also one of the coping skills found in trying to live by law ... it's called loopholes.

In Christ, we were put to death ... and then raised up with him. No excuse for sin ... only death. Now look around you and realize this: God doesn't allow ANYONE to get away with sin. What do I expect from the flesh? The answer is the same as to What do I expect from a dead man? NOTHING.

Those who are not in Christ remain in death and the best they can do is to put a good face on the corpse. Those who have passed from death into life but who have been taught that they still need to approach life by living according to Christian principles will find themselves trying to patch up the old corpse they still imagine that they are. And they will act AS IF they are still sinners instead of living in the reality that they have been made new in Christ.

The natural, legal mindset of the flesh says, Deal with this person according to his sins! The life of Christ has already dealt with sins once and for all. If your friend is indeed alive to God and yet is trying to justify himself then your friend has fallen into the trap of law. The need we have to keep trying to justify ourselves is only brought about when we live as if under a standard of conduct, because such a standard leaves no room to rest until we think we are okay by it. As soon as we think we are okay by the standard then there is always someone who will come along and let you know that you are not. The law has convinced them that we do God's work by holding each other accountable for their sins.

Your friend fails because he is TRYING to achieve a good performance and the law-standard he tries to live by forces him to keep trying to justify himself because, in reality, he inwardly despises himself for doing it but cannot seem to get out of the trap and cannot tell anyone about it because he is afraid of the added condemnation from others.

Okay, are you finally ready for my long-awaited answer? :)

Brothers, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness, looking out for yourself lest you also be tempted. Galatians 6:1

When you see your brother caught up in breaking the rules you have the wherewithal to restore such a one. But you can give him no help at all unless you see that you are spiritual - of the Spirit. Trespassing is breaking commands. Breaking commands has to do with trying to live by law. Living by law is only for those don't have the Spirit. The real question here is: Do you mean my brother is failing because he believes that he must try to live according to the rules?

To restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness is not about the method you use, but it indicates the premise of the restoration. It refers to the miraculous life we have received from God. The message of law is the spirit of condemnation even when it is spoken gently. The message of life in Christ is the spirit of gentleness, because it is not condemning, even if it is spoken harshly.

Considering yourselves, lest you too be tempted. This has been taught as if Paul was telling you to watch out for the particular sin so that you don't get caught up in it. But this is not the case at all. A law-approach will do that because we usually recognize the sins of those who are struggling with the same sin we do. But what Paul was suggesting was this: I need to consider myself because of the natural reaction in dealing with those who are breaking the rules. It is on the basis of law. Simply this: "You have a problem and you need to deal with it!"

This natural reaction we refer to as accountability only reinforces my brother's law-breaking by causing him to try harder to stop his sinning because now both of us are putting him under the microscope! When I do this to my brother it has another effect. By ME focusing on HIS sin, I am automatically demanding that I focus on MY sin. Lest you too be tempted.

Remember, Paul's whole focus to the Galatians was that law only brings the knowledge of sin and condemnation, but in Christ we have been set free from condemnation and death and have been brought into the miraculous reality where the Spirit of God produces his works in us. His main point:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and DO NOT BE SUBJECT TO A YOKE OF SLAVERY. Galatians 5:1

If I think that God deals with me according to the freedom brought by Christ, and yet I deal with my brother as if he needs me to subject him to a yoke of slavery, then I am demanding that I must also be dealt with by this yoke of slavery.

Let the freedom of Christ shake those false perceptions you hold concerning your brother so that your spiritual eyes will see his situation for what it really is. Then, and only then, will you be of any help to him.

Love, Jim

Comments

‘….then I am demanding that I must also be dealt with by this yoke of slavery. Let the freedom of Christ shake those false perceptions you hold concerning your brother so that your spiritual eyes will see his situation for what it really is. Then, and only then, will you be of any help to him.’-Jim Yeah , this is what this reminds me of: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”-Mathew 7:5 Adam

I am still trying to come to grips with a situation about 2 years ago in which I was publicly interrupted, attacked, and discredited in church while giving a teaching (on grace, of all things, with some comments on the security of the believer). I was not the pastor, but at that time the chairman of the “steering committee.” The attacks were personal and quickly led to a near-split in that church which was only avoided by my calling the denominational leadership who came in and (among other things) removed me from office. That was something of a relief and I learned from the Lord to sit without defending myself in tense meetings. We subsequently faded out of that group because it no longer felt safe to be there, wishing them all God’s blessing. My problem is this: how do I respond to those who wonder why I don’t come back now that everything has settled down? Those who were most vociferous in their public attacks have never apologized or asked forgiveness and, I suspect have no sense of doing any wrong. There was public hurt and no form of apology. At this point I believe I have forgiven them, but how can I relate to them when there is every reason to expect they would do the same thing again?
theshovel's picture

Hello my dear friend,
You said the attacks were personal, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to assume if this happened because of your teaching on grace and security. For I've been in that place, and I understand how those controlled by the legal mind will do whatever they can to remove one who teaches true life in Christ. I also relate to the sense of relief you described, as well as the grace from God as he taught you that you didn't have to defend yourself. There is real value in this, my friend. :)

So ... how do you respond? Well, the simplest answer - as well as the least understood one - is to respond according to the life of Christ that is within you. I doubt there's any one response you could make to any of those who ask, but if you'll listen to the heart of those who ask, your answer will often be the very thing you hear behind their question. Does the one asking have any idea as to why you might have really been attacked? If not, their confusion would be connected with why the grace of Christ is so important to you, as well as why it is objected to by others in the group.

I hope to hear from you again. :)
Jim

“To restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness is not about the method you use, but it indicates the premise of the restoration. It refers to the miraculous life we have received from God. The message of law is the spirit of condemnation even when it is spoken gently. The message of life in Christ is the spirit of gentleness, because it is not condemning, even if it is spoken harshly.” <~Jim Wow, that is really awesome! :) So can it be said that there is nothing to fear with the grace of GOD for we have been set free, yet with the reasoning of law there is everything to fear and distrust in its consequent and guaranteed criticism, judgement and condemnation? For without Christ, the reasoning of the natural mind with the law has no end to criticism, judgement and condemnation. I love and appreciate the following as well: “Paul’s whole focus to the Galatians was that law only brings the knowledge of sin and condemnation, but in Christ we have been set free from condemnation and death and have been brought into the miraculous reality where the Spirit of God produces his works in us.” <~Jim  :) This is all very thought-provoking to say the least! In a good way.  :) For instance, I find myself thinking that as wonderful as the love and confidence is that we are provided in and by the grace of GOD to view ourselves and one another from the miraculous perspective of the Spirit of Life, and as wonderful as its healing is to us who have been saved (and have also been guaranteed hurt and pain from others while in this world), it is still yet no guarantee of restoration from or by those who have hurt us. Especially, sibling or not, as long as they staunchly and/or stubbornly hold to the law and view us and themselves from that ‘legal’ mentality and perspective. I do not see it necessarily allowing or providing (from us) any trust in them. In fact, I think it is safe to say that it can often times have the complete opposite effect, which teaches and/or reminds us that the two wisdoms - that of the natural mind and that of the mind of Christ - are two extreme diametrically-opposed-to-one another reasonings. We enjoy our freedom when we realize that our trust is not in the wisdom and reasoning of this world, but is totally trusting in the wisdom of GOD given to us in all generosity shared in and from the mind of Christ. In short, the grace of GOD enables and allows us to see and call things for what they are in reality between us and others, but it does not always provide or create what we may have hoped for, or perhaps even unrealistically expected, in or from our relationships with others. Perhaps we simply misidentify and misunderstand what the reality is when we create, develop or take-for-granted a particular outcome, result, response, reaction or dot dot dot … fill in the blank? Perhaps we simply get disappointed that our forgiving-them does not bring about whatever it is we hoped it would bring about, nor in the time-frame we hoped for? Like some unforeseen or unrealized and unrealistic expectation about it all, especially from the other person or persons? This causes us to quickly dismiss the miraculousness of the grace of God worked-in and brought-about-in our own lives in the situation, even tho’ the others may not yet see it, nor perhaps do they yet care to. We dismiss the miracle of actually seeing there are 2 minds and reasonings at work and that they are opposed to one another. Or we may totally miss it while we are yet unrealistically and subconsciously hoping and deluding ourselves that the two reasonings can somehow work together. Eeeeks. Well, probably far too wordy and long. However, I am excited about these thoughts.  :) I think they are encouraging and supportive for the heart and mind of the New Creation in Christ Jesus. :)
theshovel's picture

Sherri, I like how you have emphasized that there are no guarantees in outcome. Indeed, there will often be great disappointment if we expect that everything is going to smooth out. Thanks for this!

Jim

Sherri very encouraging post for sure. I think we find ourselves so often on the receiving end of these legal bashing’s and we simply come up out of it just not really knowing just quite what to do? Going back to someone or something that continually pummels or resists the grace of God , over time seems to be a bit insane. I think when we endure those situations we are often just looking for what a child of God must recognize in the midst of that. I see this sister seemingly doing that very thing above. Paul turned aside from the Jews eventually in his message to them. I do not think he ever totally turned the good news away from them but, it seems at some point he did indeed allow them to dig their own grave just as the Scriptures had foretold. He simply had to watch it play itself out and go in the direction the grace of God was taking him. I think we get confused on what all these things are supposed to look like, i really do. For many times what we end up doing or deciding ends up having the appearance of sin.[but isn’t]

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What premise? The one that keeps us thinking that we can eventually get it all figured out well enough so that all our questions are answered.   source