Christianity 201

May 3, 2015

Confession is Good for the Church

So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them…”
Luke 17:3

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted…
Galatians 6:1

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
Matthew 18:15-16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

Sometimes a local church faces a crisis point where the sin of one person needs to be confessed publicly. Depending on your faith tradition, this may be something that occurs often or it may be extremely rare.

A few years ago, I remembering noting four areas such an event can impact:

  • the dynamics of spiritual warfare
  • our susceptibility to sin
  • the ongoing need to be both givers and recipients of grace
  • the importance of prayer

Some of these are more proactive and some are more reactive. Some are preventative and some are restorative.

I think the thing that impacts me the most at such times is when there is an element of surprise. We often don’t know much of the details of what is going on in someone else’s life. We clean up nicely for weekend services. Yes, it is true that sometimes you can see spiritual collapse coming, but often the spiritual condition of brothers and sisters in the local church catches us unaware.

Years ago I heard this statement, which uses automotive imagery: “Collapse in the Christian life is rarely caused by a blowout, it usually the result of a slow leak.”

Now, I realize that statement, and the paragraph which precedes it seems to be at odds, so let me clarify again that what we’re talking about in the higher paragraph concerns what can be seen, what brothers and sisters are made aware of.

That we don’t sometimes see these things is often the result of the duplicity in the lives some live. One foot in the world, and one foot in the church. A disconnect between the spiritual and the secular. Two sets of friends. Two sets of social activities. Two competing mindsets.

As you think about this, let me close by restating the four points above differently:

  • The accuser of our souls is always looking for opportunities to hurt us.
  • Even the greatest saints among us need to recognize their susceptibility; their predisposition to sin.
  • Our response to one who falls should be loving, gracious correction.
  • We need to pray for each other, by name, and citing specific areas of peoples lives for which we intercede, as the Holy Spirit reveals them to us.

Do you know someone who may be teetering on the edge of spiritual collapse? Pray for them, and ask God how he can use to be a greater influence in their life.