James 5:14-16, “Is there anyone sick among YOU? Let him call the older men of the congregation to [him], and let them pray over him, greasing [him] with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him. Therefore openly confess YOUR sins to one another and pray for one another, that YOU may get healed.”
One might ask, “Since Jehovah is the one who forgives sins, why do I need to “call the older men of the congregation?”
The Watchtower, August 15, 2001 Issue, Page 30 explains:
“Since Jehovah is the one who can forgive our sins, why do Christians confess serious sins to the older men in the congregation Yes, it is Jehovah’s forgiveness of serious sins that a Christian needs to seek. (2 Samuel 12:13) But just as the prophet Nathan provided help for David , mature older men in the congregation can help remorseful sinners. Going to the elders is in line with the direction given at James 5:14.”
The Watchtower is correct telling us the “mature older men in the congregation can help remorseful sinners.” But is this always the case? Do most Jehovah’s Witnesses feel like they can gain forgiveness from going to the elders as James 5:14-16 tells us will happen if a sinner confesses to them? I strongly believed the elders would apply James 5:14-16 in my case and my sin would be forgiven but instead I was disfellowshipped. I’m not anymore… (crossing my fingers and toes) 😉 I had talked this scripture over with the presiding overseer before the elders meeting and he knew why I was so confused. He told me, “Jehovah has forgiven you but this is your discipline.” Say what? Where was the counsel and help? Where was the greasing me with oil in the name of Jehovah? I felt like this was all wrong. One reason was that I had already confessed to Jehovah like King David did, and felt he had forgiven me. Ps. 32:5, “My sin I finally confessed to you, and my error I did not cover. I said: “I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.” And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.”
James 5:14-16 say’s nothing about disfellowshipping or discipline. I guess one might need to have the special secret elder book that only the elders are able to look at. Could it be that nobody else can read the elder book because they go way beyond what is written in the Bible? That is what I think. I am sure that book teaches how to tell if someone is repentant or not. I was told that from an elder. Where in the Bible does it talk about determining if someone is repentant or not? Can reading hearts be a skill taught to man? I thought only God could read hearts?
In my case, I had over drank again, so I was a repeat offender. That made it clear to them I was an unrepentant sinner.
Notice the comments in The Watchtower, June 1, 1992 Issue, Page 19:
“16 Some have been tempted to hide serious sins, perhaps reasoning: ‘I have confessed to Jehovah and repented. So why involve the elders?’ The wrongdoer may be embarrassed or fear what the elders might do. He should, however, remember that although Jehovah alone can cleanse us of sin, He has made the elders primarily responsible for the purity of the congregation. (Psalm 51:2) They are there for healing, for “the readjustment of the holy ones.” (Ephesians 4:12) Not to go to them when we need spiritual help is like not going to a doctor when we are sick.
17 Some who try to handle matters alone find that months or years later, their conscience is still severely troubling them. Even worse, others who hide a serious error fall into sin a second and even a third time. When the matter finally comes to the attention of the elders, it is a case of repeated wrongdoing. How much better to follow the counsel of James! He wrote: “Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah.” (James 5:14) Go to the elders while it is still a time for healing. If we wait too long, we might become hardened in a course of sin.-Ecclesiastes 3:3; Isaiah 32:1, 2.”
Did you catch where it said, “Even worse, others who hide a serious error fall into sin a second and even a third time. When the matter finally comes to the attention of the elders, it is a case of repeated wrongdoing.” Oh my goodness! “Even worse… a second and even a third time.” We have a “case” here boys! We have a “case of repeated wrongdoing”! A “case”??? Is this some kind of court case? Don’t even think twice about it. YES IT IS. That is why they call it a “judicial committee”. Try to find that phrase in the Bible, “judicial committee”, you won’t. Try to find anything in the Bible about how to handle a “judicial committee” you can’t. Thus the need for a private book that only these judges can possess and read themselves. This is truly going beyond what is written in the Bible. Is it any wonder many Jehovah’s Witnesses are afraid of the elders? Is it any wonder many do not seek their help and remain spiritually sick and depressed?
Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He that is covering over his transgressions will not succeed, but he that is confessing and leaving them will be shown mercy.” Is that what happens with the elders? Maybe with one transgression, but “transgressions”? Well that’s a “case of repeated wrongdoing”- a totally different matter!
Remember the women caught in the act of adultery at John 8:3-7? The Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus and what did he say? Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” WOW, imagine that! Isn’t this the way it is supposed to be? However picture Jesus saying this, “Wait a minute, how many times did she do this? Three times? OK Stone her!” Or how about, “Well what we need to do here is form a judicial committee of three of us and get to the bottom of this matter so we can protect the congregation and keep it clean.” You may laugh but that is the way the JW’s do things. Totally opposite of Jesus Christ! They cast stones and kill the sinner repentant or not and they have their own little holy book to tell them how to do this!
I was a prisoner of this system for 40 years. I went to the elders for 40 years many times. I for one am glad I am out of that bondage. I have close brothers now that I can talk to without fear as James tells us to do, “Therefore openly confess YOUR sins to one another and pray for one another, that YOU may get healed.”
Your brother in Christ,
P.S. I recommend reading this: Watchtower’s Judicial System