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What if You Commit a Serious Sin?

What if You Commit a Serious Sin?

Even though you love Jehovah deeply and you try hard to avoid doing anything that would hurt him, you will occasionally make mistakes. However, some sins are more serious than others. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) If you commit a serious sin, remember that Jehovah has not stopped loving you; he is willing to forgive and help you.

1. What must we do to receive Jehovah’s forgiveness?

Those who love Jehovah are filled with sorrow when they realize that they have committed a serious sin. But they find comfort in what Jehovah promised his people: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be made as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) If we sincerely repent, Jehovah will completely forgive us. How do we repent? Moved by deep regret, we stop doing what is bad and beg Jehovah to forgive us. Then we work hard to change the wrong thinking or habits that led to our sin, and we try to live according to Jehovah’s clean standards.​—Read Isaiah 55:6, 7.

2. How does Jehovah use the elders to help us when we sin?

If we commit a serious sin, Jehovah tells us to “call the elders of the congregation.” (Read James 5:14, 15.) These appointed men love Jehovah and his sheep. They are qualified to help us repair our relationship with Jehovah.​—Galatians 6:1.

How do the elders help us if we commit a serious sin? Two or three elders will correct us, using Scriptural counsel. They will also give us practical suggestions and encouragement to help us avoid sinning again. They may limit our participation in certain Christian activities for a while until we are spiritually healthy. To protect the congregation from harmful influences, the elders disfellowship any who commit serious sins and are unrepentant.


Deepen your appreciation for how Jehovah helps us if we commit a serious sin.

3. Confessing helps us to heal

Any sin we commit involves Jehovah, so we rightly confess to him. Read Psalm 32:1-5, and then discuss this question:

  • Why is it good for us to confess our sins to Jehovah instead of trying to hide them?

In addition to confessing our sins to Jehovah, we find relief when we seek help from the elders. Play the VIDEO, and then discuss the question that follows.

  • In the video, how did elders help Canon return to Jehovah?

We need to be open and honest with the elders; they are there to help us. Read James 5:16, and then discuss this question:

  • How does being honest with the elders make it easier for them to help us?

Confess your sin, be honest with the elders, and accept Jehovah’s loving help

4. How disfellowshipping helps

If a person who has committed a serious sin refuses to follow Jehovah’s standards, he can no longer be part of the congregation. He is disfellowshipped, and we do not associate with him or even speak with him. Read 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11 and 2 John 9-11, and then discuss this question:

  • Just as leaven ferments bread dough, how would associating with an unrepentant sinner affect the congregation?

Many who have been disfellowshipped have later returned to the congregation because the discipline, although painful, brought them to their senses. (Psalm 141:5) Play the VIDEO, and then discuss the question that follows.

  • In this dramatization, how did being disfellowshipped help Sonja?

How does the disfellowshipping arrangement . . .

  • honor Jehovah’s name?

  • show that Jehovah is reasonable and loving?

5. Jehovah forgives us when we repent

Jesus used an illustration that helps us understand how Jehovah feels when a person repents. Read Luke 15:1-7, and then discuss this question:

  • What does this teach you about Jehovah?

Read Ezekiel 33:11, and then discuss this question:

  • Repentance involves what important step?

Like a shepherd, Jehovah cares deeply about his sheep

SOME PEOPLE SAY: “I’m afraid that if I tell the elders about my sin, I’ll get disfellowshipped.”

  • What would you say to someone who feels that way?


If we commit a serious sin but are sincerely sorry and determined to stop doing what is bad, Jehovah will forgive us.


  • Why is it good for us to confess our sins to Jehovah?

  • What do we need to do to have our sins forgiven?

  • If we commit a serious sin, why should we seek help from the elders?



See how one man experienced Jehovah’s mercy that is described at Isaiah 1:18.

Never Doubt Jehovah’s Mercy (5:02)

How can the disfellowshipping arrangement benefit everyone involved?

“Why Disfellowshipping Is a Loving Provision” (The Watchtower, April 15, 2015)

Learn how you can explain the disfellowshipping arrangement to a non-Witness.

“Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Shun Those Who Used to Belong to Their Religion?” (Web article)

In the story “I Needed to Return to Jehovah,” learn why a man who strayed from the truth felt that Jehovah drew him back.

“The Bible Changes Lives” (The Watchtower, April 1, 2012)