“My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” (James 5:19-20 NLT)
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19,20 KJV)
There have been a lot of popular and well paid preachers who have taught for decades that sinning is no big deal for the Christian. And there are so many doctrinal variations now in the evangelical/pentecostal/charismatic/protestant world today that it is really confusing. What is the truth that sinners need to return to?
It is really just the basic thing of repenting, turning to God to live under the Lordship of Jesus, trusting that His cross and sacrifice make a way for us by which we can return to God. This is the basic truth.
John said, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4). Jesus’ commandment is to love God (which involves trusting and believing Him) and to love others, and it is unpacked by all the other instructions He gave us. This is the truth that some Christians wander from, and it is serious.
Once a person rejects the authority of Jesus Christ and is not willing to confess their sins and renew their commitment to obeying Jesus, they are in serious trouble. Such people might be everywhere in the church, but according to the Scriptures, they need to be turned back, because turning them back actually saves their soul from death, and results in the forgiveness of many sins.
Just know that it is God’s will for you to exhort other Christians you know to live a holy life, and to help them come back to the Lord if you know that they have departed from the truth in any serious way.
To know what doctrinal truth is, compare any belief you or others may have with what James teaches in his letter. Read the whole thing. Read the whole of the book of 1 John. Read the gospels, especially the gospel of Luke. Read the Book of Romans, but not just the favorite parts. Read all of it, even Romans 2, Romans 3:31, Romans 6, Romans 8 and Romans 12:1-2.
It is time to turn wholeheartedly to the Lord.