Jas 5:17-20 “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 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.”
We often read scriptural accounts of men like James, Peter, and Paul, and we are tempted to think that they were supermen. It is good to remind ourselves that they are just men who God has blessed in a mighty way. Based on James’ statement concerning Elias (the Greek name for Elijah), they needed this same reminder of their scriptural heroes.
James reminds his audience (and us) that Elijah was a man who was affected by things (subject to like passions) in the same way we are. In spite of that, Elijah prayed earnestly before the Lord. He came before God with an attitude of worship and made his petition known. Elijah asked for something that was a mighty example of God’s power: he did not attempt to take any credit for it. He asked that rain be withheld from the earth, and it did not rain for three and a half years.
This man who was no different from us asked God for a great thing to teach His people a hard lesson. God heard his earnest prayer and granted His request. At the end of the three and a half years, I am persuaded that Elijah prayed just as earnestly as he had the first time. Again, God heard him and sent rain that the earth should bring forth fruit. God was attentive to the earnest prayers of a man like we are.
Like Elijah, we are going to stray from the truth from time to time. Remember that Elijah was convinced at one point that he was the only one left who loved and worshipped the True and Living God. After all the mighty things God had blessed him to do, he wavered in his faith and did not realize the truth that there were still seven thousand Israelites who had never bowed to Baal.
Our godly desire, when we see a brother or sister err from the truth, should be to see them restored to a right path. We should encourage one another (let him know) in this desire to see our brethren restored to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. We must also recognize that it is God who will actually do the turning and restoring, just as it was with Elijah. What a wonderful thought that God would be pleased to use men of like passion as the prophet to display His power to His children here.
While we clearly understand that we cannot save anyone to Eternity, the scripture here plainly tells us that we can save a brother or sister. We can, by God’s grace, save a brother or sister from death. God will hear our earnest prayer and do mightily to save (deliver) His children from walking in error and thus becoming dead to the joy and power of the truth. God will allow us to turn the sinner from error and hide a multitude of sins.
God did not say we were going to put away anyone’s sins. He did not say we were going to forgive anyone’s sins: this is the province of the Triune God. However, in converting a sinner from error, we can cover many sins. How many times in our life has someone pointed out an error to us and helped to turn us from that destructive path? What sins were covered (hidden) by their earnest effort of love for us and for God? It is truly a blessing to have one inspired of God (see Strong’s definition of prophet) to speak and deliver us from being separated from the joy of our salvation.
May God bless us to earnestly seek Him to do great things when it comes to the daily deliverance of our brethren!