Christianity 201

March 21, 2022

Confession: God Reveals Sin in our Lives

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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We’re invoking our “six month rule” instead the usual 12 months in order to again share something from Geno Pyse, who writes at Geno Pyse and the Proclamation. He is the author of 16 books (!) including Christian Reflections in a Deflecting World.

Click the header (title) below to read this there, where this is one among several recommended articles.

The Importance of Confession

How easily we can camouflage pseudo-spirituality and religious pretenses with religious activities and rhetoric. We can fool others, and astonishingly, we can even deceive ourselves! But we cannot fool or pull one over on God, the omniscient One. We can twist God’s Word in a way to fool ourselves and others, but this is only to our own harm. Truth remains truth regardless of twisting, rhetoric, or smoke and mirrors.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins,” (7:20). We can (and do) go around patting ourselves on the backs, thinking, “You’re okay and I’m okay.” But the truth of the matter is we’re not always okay. If we’re not careful, we can ignore the flowerbeds of our hearts and allow the weeds of anger, pride, lust, covetousness, worry, and the like to take root and begin choking the flowers of virtue and grace. We can begin to deny God’s perspective on attitudes and behaviors He declares  as sin. We can erect various forms of idolatry in our lives and churches and truly believe everything is alright when everything is all wrong.

Sin is never neutral. Even if a person is truly redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, sin still has consequences. And the more one ignores and dismisses the warnings of God’s Word, faithful believers, and the convictions of the Holy Spirit, the more severe the consequences will be.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. ~ 1 John 1:5-6

God is light. There is no darkness—not even shadows—in Him. He is completely holy, Truth to the utmost absolute, and pure in the highest caliber. We, on the other hand, are not. And while God, indeed, is very lovingly long suffering with us, He does not at all condone our walking and wallowing in sin like kids jumping in puddles and pigs rolling in mire. What we sometimes fail to understand is when we try to harbor our sins we begin to walk in darkness. The longer we are in darkness, the further we can stray from the Lord and lose our way. This, in turn, causes us to become more vulnerable to other deceptions and various forms of bondage (even religious kinds).

We read a truth in the Old Testament that remains true in the lives of true believers:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. ~ Isaiah 59:1-3

In Christ, the issue is not whether one can be forgiven, because all sin is forgivable through Him. Rather, are we willing to let His light expose our sins, and are we willing to agree with Him for what He says about them? Our sins do disrupt our fellowship with Him. And Jesus says of those who reject Him and the reason they stand condemned:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. ~ John 3:19-20

For God’s people, in the midst of our struggle with sin, the apostle writes,

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 8-9

The word confess doesn’t simply mean to admit. Rather, it’s taken from the Greek word, homoiogeo, which means to agree and consent to. Thus, confession has to do with agreeing with God concerning the way He sees our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and motives, then changing these accordingly.

Today, we are in dire need to confess—to agree, to consent—with God and His perception on things. It is easy to look at the world and see what a mess it’s in; however, as Christians we can be ever so guilty of wanting to take the specks out of unbelievers’ eyes, while being oblivious to the forests in our own. The church in the West (especially in the United States) harbors all kinds of pride, anger, envy, and partialities. We’ve allowed all kinds of “back talking” and casting doubt on God’s Word—even in many of our seminaries. Furthermore, we’ve erected all kinds of idols (especially in the areas of entertainment and comfortable living) in our hearts and churches.

How can we see if we are walking and stumbling in darkness? How can we really be walking with God if we are not willing to agree and consent to what He says about things? An essential part of prayer is asking the Lord to reveal sin in our lives. The psalmist writes,

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! ~ Psalm 139:24-24

This, my friend, is a continual and life long endeavor. But we are promised that as we do, God is both faithful and just to not only forgive us of sin but to also cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

 

September 11, 2013

Confession in the Modern Church

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:24 pm
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Confession in the church

Do you think people in the modern church pretend to have it more together than they do in reality? Spiritual pretense was a problem in  Jesus’ day as it is in ours.  I think there is better acting to be seen at weekend church services than you’ll see at any show on Broadway.

As I searched for a graphic to accompany today’s article, I targeted James 5:16, but noticed that many place the emphasis on “the prayer of a righteous man avails much;” but not so many on “therefore confess your sins one to another.” However, the latter would seem to be the condition for the former to take place. The one I choose also provides the context of the previous verse, where confession of sin is listed with prayer for physical healing.

Today’s writing is from Ray Ortlund, a pastor in Nashville, and a member of The Gospel Coalition, a coordinating body for churches and individuals who are part of the Reformed doctrinal position. I’ve highlighted one particular paragraph for emphasis. You’re encourage to read this at Christ is Deeper Still, Ray’s blog, where it appeared under the title Confession.

David said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” (Psalm 32:5).  Why?  Because “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).  People living with unconfessed sin groan.  They groan about this, they groan about that.  But really, they are admitting that they have sins still unconfessed.  Their strength is dried up.  They are sluggish, unmotivated, always looking for ways to minimize their obedience, because the joy is gone.

Living with unconfessed sin saps a believer’s spiritual strength.  But living moment by moment in confession and honesty and realism – “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!  Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32:1-2, NLT).

In some churches, nobody admits anything.  Confession would be foolhardy, because it would be used as evidence against, rather than for, a person.  If not dead already, such a church eventually will be.  But God welcomes all of us sinners to confess and get free forever.  It’s like being born again again.

Biblical confession also includes a horizontal dimension – confession to one another, where we find powerful healing.  Confession to God alone often does not lift us into the freedom we desire.  With God alone, confession can be too easy.  It is too easy to save face, and there is no healing, no release, in saving face, however earnest the confession to God might seem to be.  Confession to God alone can be a way of not really facing ourselves and our sins.  James 5:16 shows us where freedom can be found: “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together, writes, “You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you.  He wants you as you are; he does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; he wants you alone. . . . You can hide nothing from God.  The mask you wear before men will do you no good before him.  He wants to see you as you are, he wants to be gracious to you.”

Then, with James 5:16 in mind, Bonhoeffer also writes, “The last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned.  The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil.  He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother.  The expressed, the acknowledged sin has lost all its power.  It has been revealed and judged as sin.  It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder.  Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother.  He is no longer alone with his evil, for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God.  It has been taken away from him.  Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God in the cross of Jesus Christ.  Now he can be a sinner and still enjoy the grace of God.  He can confess his sins and in this very act find fellowship for the first time. . . . If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother, he will never be alone again.”

To whom do you confess?