When A Brother Sins

When A Brother Sins

We’ve probably all been there. Someone we know gets caught in a high-profile sin. Our initial reaction is shock. We didn’t see it coming. What was going on behind the scenes doesn’t sync with what was projected on the surface. The person we thought we knew bears little resemblance to what we see now.

What follows the shock are some of the other phases of grief: denial, sorrow, anger, to name a few. All of these can be present when we come to grips with the reality of our brother’s sin. We don’t want to believe it. Sometimes people refuse to believe their brother is capable of such a thing (or are slow to) even in the face of strong evidence. Part of that can be because we can’t believe we could be so wrong, so easily fooled.

Other times we experience intense sorrow—for the brother, for his family, for those who bear the consequences of his sin, for the devastating fallout that follows, even for ourselves and the potential change in our relationship with them.

Often there is anger. We are angry at the brother for his stupidity, or weakness, or deception. Angry because of the mess they have made of their lives, their family’s life, or other people their sin has victimized. It can be a very righteous anger—very appropriate anger at the conduct and consequences of their sin. We can even be angry at ourselves, either because we didn’t see it coming, for being taken in, or perhaps we did see something, but didn’t say anything. All of these grief reactions are common, understandable, and could be sequenced through multiple times as we come to grips with our brother’s sin.

Let me suggest that there is yet another grief response that would be appropriate for us to consider. When a brother sins, we should mourn as Ezra did when he saw his brothers violating God’s law. We read in Ezra, chapter 9, that he mourned as if someone had died—weeping, fasting, throwing himself down in fervent prayer, deep in a spirit of confession. Even though he held the transgressors personally accountable for their sin, his prayer of confession did not point finger at others. Rather, he prayed, “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”

In Ezra’s reaction to his brothers’ sin, there is such a sense of corporate guilt, and an example of the innocent, righteous man identifying with the guilt of the sinner. This is much like what Jesus did when He took on our sin (the Innocent identifying with the sins of the guilty). We see similar confessions in Nehemiah 9 and Daniel 9, as well. These righteous men humbly identified with their sinful brothers, and, thus, could bring them before the Throne in true intercession. If we would only follow their example in this, I believe we would find a healing and revival power in prayer that would be restorative and transformative, not only in their lives, but in our lives. and the life of the church as a whole.

Such praying opens us up to the powerful cleansing search light of the Holy Spirit, as well. For when a brother sins, if we would avoid the sin of pride and condemnation, we should ask the Lord to probe us for any vestiges of that sin (or any other sin) luring in our shadows. God told Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door, and desires to have you.” He could say that to every one of us. They may be a different variety of sin than took our brother down, but the threat to our intimacy with God and effectiveness for His kingdom are still on the line. And, as Paul warns us, we must be careful with our reaction to the sins of others, lest we fall into the same trap.

Take a moment and read Ezra’s reaction to his brother’s sin in Ezra 9, then consider a brother whose sin has sidetracked or even derailed his life. Ask the Lord to help you to adopt an Ezra-stance in intercession for this brother, and to show you your own sin which could be crouching at your door (or one that may already have you in its grip). If we would continue in this frame of praying, I would dare say we would see God move in power in many lives, and perhaps even revival in the church.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries