How Do I Lead An Intervention For A Loved One?

When dependency reaches a point at which people are hurting themselves and do not know they need help, a guided intervention may be necessary. Intervention is an attempt to change an influencing force that is destroying a person’s well-being.

The principle of intervention is certainly not new since the Bible records interventions into the destructive behavior of many people. Genesis 3 gives an account of God’s first intervention with the first parents of the human race. After Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience, they needed a recovery program, and we have been in need of recovery since that time. When they hid themselves from God among the trees, He sought a conversation with them asking, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). God was keenly aware of their fallen condition and obviously knew their whereabouts, but He wanted a response from them. Through this intervention, God helped them see their condition, held them responsible for their actions, and provided a way out of their web of deception.

After David took Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and then had Uriah murdered in an effort to cover up their sin, the Lord sent Nathan to intervene in David’s destructive course. Nathan sought a response by telling him about two men in a certain community: one was rich and the other was poor (see 2 Samuel 12). When a traveler came to the rich man for a meal, the rich man would not give him one of his own sheep. Instead, he took the only ewe lamb the poor man had, one that had grown up with his family, and prepared it for the traveler. After hearing the story, David responded with anger toward the rich man, suggesting his death. Nathan then said to David, “You are the man!” (v7). Nathan discussed the consequences of David’s behavior, and David acknowledged he had sinned against the Lord. The Lord used Nathan to conduct an intervention on David to help him see his sinful condition, its long-term consequences, his need for repentance, and how to get back on the track of recovery.

Showing guided level-by-level interventions, Jesus deals with the principle of restoration in Matthew 18:15-17. He begins with an early intervention: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you” (v15). Early intervention should be done privately with careful confrontation based on observations (show him his faults), not with judgment and condemnation. This should be done soon after the fault has been observed to prevent delusion. If the brother in the wrong responds favorably, then the issue is over with and restoration accomplished.

If the brother does not respond to early intervention, he is probably in a state of delusion. The next step, intermediate intervention, is described in verse 16: “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ” There should be descriptive facts presented based on times, places, people affected, and so forth, as they relate specifically to the problem.

The third level of restoration is crisis intervention. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (v17). At this level the church should already have a plan in place to assist this person if he is repentant and shows a willingness to receive help. If not, he should be made aware of the church’s continued love and compassion for him, but the church members will lovingly detach themselves from him until he shows evidence of wanting to change.

This principle of intervention shows three levels with people being added at each phase. All involved are people who are meaningful in his life. To prevent gossip, it is important to inform only those who need to know. The purpose of intervention is to help people, not tear them down.

How does the local church intervene when a person’s addictive behavior reaches a crisis stage? After the individual has been approached with early and intermediate intervention without success, who should be involved in the crisis intervention-the entire church body or just a few meaningful people in the person’s life? A crisis intervention should involve only meaningful people. Involving the entire local church body would probably include enablers, carnal Christians, and those who do not understand addictive behaviors which would hamper restoration.

Material from Understanding the Times and Knowing What to Do 
Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Turning Point Ministries 
All Rights Reserved

The Truth Test When Feeling Guilty

“Have I truly repented of my sins?” You may want to take a close look at a specific memory that is flooding you with guilt. Then put it to this test.

  1. Have I already confessed this sin?
  2. When did I confess it?
  3. Was I truly sincere?
    Have I been completely honest with God?

If the answer to all these is yes, then you can stand on the promises of 1 John 1:9, John 8:36, and Romans 8:1.

Are You Punishing Yourself with Guilt?
Do you look at problems in your life today as God’s punishment for past sins? When sickness or a financial setback comes into your life, do you see this as God’s way of making you pay. Or perhaps you have heard someone say, “God, what did I do to deserve this?”

Not all your problems are the result of your sins. When Saul (later called Paul) had his en-counter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, God sent Ananias to pray for him and give him a message from God: “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16 NIV)

Paul could have lived with guilt for the rest of his life as he remembered the Christians he persecuted. The vivid memories of Stephen being stoned to death could have haunted him as he reminded himself that he did nothing but watch and approve of that death.

But Paul chose to look at life from a new point of view — God’s. He said, “I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in.” (Philippians 4:11-13) He recognized he had been a sinner — in fact, he described himself as the worst of sinners. (1 Timothy 1:16) But he walked in the freedom Christ provided.

Paul speaks with bold confidence that God’s power would see him through every difficult circumstance he faced.

God Does Not Use Guilt to Punish His Children
You may find it easy to pound yourself with guilt as you recall past failures or sins. But God only uses guilt to motivate us to come to Him and confess our sins.

Once those sins are forgiven, He does not use guilt to punish us, no matter how serious the sin. See Romans 8:1.

Copyright © 2000, 2006 By David Batty. Used by permission.

So Why Do I Still Feel Guilty?

Satan wants to rob you of God’s peace and joy. He comes with false guilt, which feels exactly the same as true guilt from God.

So how can I know if I’m feeling true guilt from God or false guilt? How do I know if I’m living with guilt that doesn’t belong to me?

You must use God’s truth to evaluate your feelings of guilt. You must examine your heart and ask, “Have I truly repented of my sins?” You may want to write down the specific memory that is flooding you with guilt. Then put it to the truth test.

  1. Have I already confessed this sin?
  2. When did I confess it?
  3. Was I truly sincere?

Have I been completely honest with God?

If the answer to all these is “yes,” then you can stand on the promises of 1 John 1:9 and John 8:36. If you confess your sins, He promises to forgive and cleanse you — not 2 months from now — immediately.

If you have any doubt about the sincerity of your previous confession — confess it again and then instantly claim God’s peace and forgiveness.

When I was a teenager, I committed a sin one day. Before I went to sleep that night I prayed and confessed my sin. In the weeks and months that followed, the memory of that sin would come back, and with it, waves of guilt and condemnation.

Four or five times in the weeks that followed, I confessed that sin again. But every time the memory returned, the guilt came too.

Finally one day it dawned on me, “I have confessed this sin as sincerely as I know how. I have turned my back on this sin — I’m living in obedience to Jesus. I’ve got to accept the reality of God’s forgiveness and recognize this guilt is not from God. Then it must be from the enemy.”

Don’t Ignore the Guilt
When I came to this point of accepting God’s truth, I didn’t ignore the guilt and condemnation — I faced it. “Yes, Satan, I did sin in the past, but God has forgiven me. And I choose to live in His forgiveness and peace. So thanks for reminding me of God’s mercy in my life.”

The power of that old memory was broken. Every time it returned I didn’t try to ignore it, I repeated God’s truth in relation to it-reminding myself and the devil of God’s response to my past sin. The power of guilt was broken. Today the memory of that sin no longer robs me of God’s peace.

So why not just ignore the guilt? Because it may be from God. I need to say as David did in Psalms 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2 NIV)

If I can identify a sin that I have not confessed, then I need to use that very moment to specifically confess that sin and make a commitment to turn from that activity and follow Jesus. I need to repeat God’s promise of 1 John 1:9 and stand on His promise to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

If the memory of that sin returns, and with it waves of guilt and condemnation, I need to reject those feelings-they are not from God.

A freshman in Bible college had guilt dumped on him by a friend. This difficult relationship continued for weeks. He said, “I have to keep rehearsing the facts because if I listen to my feelings, I just get confused.”

You may ask, “Why can’t I shake these feelings of guilt?” Past failures still haunt you with guilt. You’ve confessed your sins, perhaps many times, still the guilt persists. Keep repeating God’s truth-the enemy will not quit just because you win one battle — he will come again and again. He will whisper in your ear, “If your sin was truly forgiven, you wouldn’t feel any guilt today.”

You must stand on the words of Jesus, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV) False guilt loses its power when we understand God’s truth and apply it.

Not Just for Sins
Satan can pound us with guilt for things that are not even sin. I once went into a bank to cash a check and deposit part of it in my bank account. After the teller had completed the transaction, I realized I wanted a little more deposited, so I asked him to change it. He did. Driving away from the bank I felt condemnation and guilt.


The enemy doesn’t need a good or logical reason to pound us with guilt. He will use anything! Several times in the next few days the memory of that bank transaction flooded me with guilt. Finally I said to myself, “Wait a minute Dave, you did not lie, or steal, or cheat the bank. All you asked was a change in your deposit.” It took less than twenty seconds to make the change! “This guilt is not from God — recognize its source! Respond with God’s truth.”

The power of that guilt was instantly broken. Not by rebuking the guilt or Satan, but by focusing on God’s truth as it related to this specific situation.

James offers practical advice on responding to the devil’s attacks. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:7-8 NIV) The most powerful way to resist the devil is to come close to God-close to His truth, His promises, His forgiveness, His peace.

We can’t change our past, but we can use our past to meditate on God’s truth. The promise of Romans 8:1 to be free from condemnation is for each child of God, not just the super saints! We have a young lady at Teen Challenge whose mom died when she was 16 years old. Since that tragedy, she has carried guilt — she felt responsible for her mom’s death. Many children feel responsible for the divorce of their parents. This guilt is not from God.

Don’t let the power of other people’s condemnation rob you of God’s peace. Fix your eyes on Jesus — He is not a condemning God.

When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (John 8) her accusers verbally pounded her with guilt. Jesus-slow to respond-said “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 NIV) When Jesus stood to face her, he asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Jesus responded, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11 NIV) When another woman quietly reached out through a noisy crowd and touched His garment, she experienced miraculous healing. (Luke 8:42-48) “Who touched me?” Jesus asked and then repeated His question.

The woman came forward trembling, admitting that she was one. He tells her “Go in peace!” Jesus doesn’t send us away with guilt or condemnation, He sends us out in peace.

As your memory movies play uninvited scenes of horrible sins, you can respond with God’s truth and refuse to give room to condemnation. No matter how often the reruns play, you can still go in peace.

Put God’s sound track to these old reruns. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

Romans 8:1 offers a simple promise for each child of God — “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We can live free of guilt.

The only legitimate place guilt has in our life is from the moment we sin until we confess that sin. Guilt can be a very temporary part of our lives.

What can be a permanent part of our lives is God’s peace-His love, His mercy, His kindness, His loving, encouraging presence. We are not perfect, but we are forgiven.

Copyright © 2000, 2006 By David Batty. Used by permission.