My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James is dealing with a number of issues in this passage. The first is the fact that a Christian can wander from the truth. The word, wander means to roam or rove around.
In the natural, wandering takes place when we get distracted by something. When I’ve gone hiking, there have been times when I’ve gotten distracted and missed a turn in the trail. A couple of times I had to do a fair amount of backtracking before I got to where I should have been.
That’s why this Greek word can also mean deception. Deceit is when I knowingly try to distract you from the truth. The question is; how does this wandering manifest itself in a spiritual setting?
One day, Jesus explained this very concept to the Sadducees, who were trying to prove to the Lord that there would be no resurrection.
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
The word, error, in this verse is the same word wander that James used. Jesus was telling these priests that they had wandered from the truth because of two problems. They’re the same two things that cause modern believers to miss out on God’s best.
The first, was not knowing the Scriptures. This was an interesting thing to say to the Sadducees, since they had huge portions of Scripture memorized. They had to know all the books of Moses by heart just to qualify for the priesthood.
The problem was that they only knew about the Scripture. The word that Jesus used was a knowing by experience. These priests knew what the Bible said, they just didn’t want to apply it to their lives. Without the application of Scripture, we’re merely wandering around hoping to stumble upon God’s best for us.
The second thing that causes us to wander is not knowing the power of God. That’s probably the greatest hindrance in our generation. In many church circles we’re relying upon secular corporate models or clever programming to grow our churches.
In many cases, if the Holy Spirit showed up on Sunday morning, we wouldn’t know what to do with Him. In some churches He’d be escorted out the door, in others He’d be told to sit quietly in the corner. The last thing they want is to see the power of God active in their services.
I believe that the goal of God’s people is to see, and experience the power of God actively in their lives. In my opinion, that’s what the world needs to see. More than structures or programs, it’s the power of God that will bring them to repentance and salvation.
I want to see a new move of God in my generation. But for that to happen, we need to stop being distracted by the world around us. In other words, we need to stop wandering from the truth.
By focusing on experiencing the truth of Scripture and experiencing the presence of God we can once again see the Lord’s best manifest in us. As a result, there will be a great harvest of souls when they see the hand of God actively working in our lives.
Question: How much time do you spend actively applying Scripture to your life and seeking God’s presence?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017