Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘confession’

I’m Wrong — BUT — What About Him (or Her)?

SOURCE:  Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.


Going the Wrong Way Down a One-Way Street

Because most of us do not like to admit that we have sinned, we tend to conceal, deny, or rationalize our wrongs.

If we cannot completely cover up what we have done, we try to minimize our wrongdoing by saying that we simply made a “mistake” or an “error in judgment.”

Another way to avoid responsibility for our sins is to shift the blame to others or to say that they made us act the way we did.

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule. It goes something like this: “Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40% of the fault is mine. That means 60% of the fault is hers. Since she is 20% more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.” I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than canceled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

“It’s two-way street, you know … I did stuff, but he did stuff, too! Why aren’t we talking about HIS stuff?” These words, which were spoken in the midst of an actual conflict, reflect another variation of the 40/60 rule. We say it’s a two-way street, but the problem is that in reality we still treat it like a one-way street. “When the other person is willing to ‘drive’ to me, only then will I think about confessing my part of the conflict.”

But that’s not the way Jesus spells things out in Luke 6:41-42. There he gives his famous words on “getting the log out” of your own eye first, before you ever get around to removing the splinter from your brother’s or sister’s eye. And just a few verses earlier, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. (Luke 6:35)

What about the confessions we make?

Do we withhold our confession until we have assurance that the other person will confess his or her part? Or are we willing to confess “expecting nothing in return”?

It is a two-way street, but the responsibility that God calls each of us to is all one-way.

Seven “A’s” of Confession

SOURCE:  Ken Sande

Confession Brings Freedom

Many people have never experienced the freedom of repentance and forgiveness.

Why?

It’s often because they never learned how to make a sincere and believable confession.

Instead, they say things like: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Maybe I was wrong.” “Let’s just forget the past.”  “I know I shouldn’t have yelled at you, but you made me so mad.”

These worthless statements seldom trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs.

One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s of Confession.

  1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
  2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
  3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
  4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
  5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
  6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
  7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-51John 1:8-9Proverbs 28:13.

————————————–

Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict © 2004 by Ken Sande. 

I Am Sorry…Really, Really Sorry

SOURCE:  Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 130.

Hard To Say You’re Sorry?

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation
and leaves no regret…
 2 Corinthians 7:10

If you want someone to respond positively to a confession, make it a point to acknowledge and express sorrow for how you have hurt or afflicted them. Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions.

Here are a few examples of how this can be done:

“You must have been terribly embarrassed when I said those things in front of everyone. I’m very sorry I did that to you.”

“I can see why you were frustrated when I didn’t deliver the parts on time. I’m sorry I failed to keep my commitment to you.”

How easily do you say, “I’m sorry”?

There was a pop song back in the 80’s that got a lot of radio play; the title was Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry. The lyrics accurately named the tension of “I really want to say it, but it’s really hard for me to do it.” Does that tension feel familiar? Yeah, me too.

My, how quickly we forget. We forget how incredibly powerful those two little words are — “I’m sorry.” They can defuse a tense situation in a heartbeat. When we honestly express sorrow for what we’ve done, we’re taking the initiative to level things. Rather than looking down our nose at someone, we look him square in the eyes. And it is there, on that face-to-face level, where words like “confession” and “forgiveness” really mean something.

A life lived without regret is a tall order. But being able to say, “I’m sorry” — as hard as it is — is a step in the right direction.

So move beyond just wanting to say you are sorry and actually do it.

The “ONLY” Way Forward –> Bringing Our Failures To God

SOURCE: Taken from  D.A. Carson/The Gospel Coalition

[Based on:  Leviticus 25Psalm 32Ecclesiastes 82 Timothy 4]

“BLESSED IS HE WHOSE TRANSGRESSIONS ARE FORGIVEN, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Ps. 32:1-2).

In a theistic universe where God keeps the books, it is difficult to imagine any greater blessedness.

The sad tragedy is that when many people reflect on this brute fact — that we must give an account to him, and there is no escaping his justice — almost instinctively they do the wrong thing. They resolve to take the path of self-improvement, they turn over a new leaf, they conceal or even deny the sins of frivolous youth. Thus they add to their guilt something additional — the sin of deceit.

We dare not ask for justice — we would be crushed.

But how can we hide from the God who sees everything? That is self-delusion.

There is only one way forward that does not destroy us: we must be forgiven.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven.” And what is bound up with such forgiveness? For a start, such a person will not pretend there are no sins to forgive: blessed is the man “in whose spirit is no deceit.”

That is why the ensuing verses speak so candidly of confession (32:3-5). It was when David “kept silent” (i.e., about his sins) that his “bones wasted away”; his anguish was so overwhelming it brought wretched physical pain. David writhed under the sense that God himself was against him: “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (32:4).

The glorious solution?

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (32:5).

The New Testament writer closest to saying the same thing is John in his first letter (1 John 1:8-9).

Writing to believers, John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” There it is again: the self-deception bound up with denying our sinfulness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” There it is again: the only remedy to human guilt.

This God forgives us, not because he is indulgent or too lazy to be careful, but because we have confessed our sin, and above all, because he is “faithful and just”: “faithful” to the covenant he has established, “just” so as not to condemn us when Jesus himself is the propitiation for our sins (2:2).

True Repentance: What does it mean to turn your back on sin?

SOURCE:  Douglas Wendel/Discipleship Journal

“What’s it supposed to look like?” a Christian friend questioned me from across the table one day at lunch.

In discussing his recently failed marriage, I suggested that he had not repented of his own wrongdoing in the messy ordeal. He seemed overly focused on his ex-wife’s wrongs, while he had barely mentioned his own shortcomings. I grieved over my friend’s broken marriage but also over his unrepentant heart. Unfortunately, I see unrepentant attitudes becoming more and more common among the conflict-filled lives Christians lead today.

In Is. 30:15, we are told, “In repentance and rest is your salvation.” In other words, the road to a restored relationship with God and with others begins with repentance. Denying sin separates us from God in our day-to-day walks with Him; repentance and confession bring reconciliation.

If repentance is so important in our relationships with God and with others—especially those we love most— why is it so difficult to do? Perhaps one of the answers lies in our inability to answer the question my friend asked me: What does repentance look like? If we don’t know what repentance should look like in our own hearts and lives, we’ll have a difficult time recognizing whether or not we are truly repentant.

What Repentance Is  . . . and Isn’t

The original biblical languages give us some interesting insights into the meaning of the word repentance. The Hebrew words nacham and shub and the Greek word metanoeo are all translated “repent” in our Bible. In the Old Testament, nacham denotes a change of mind or heart, while shub indicates a turning away from evil and then a turning to God. In the New Testament, metanoeo means a change of one’s mind or purpose. Repentance, then, is the inner change of one’s mind and heart that results in outwardly turning away from sin and turning toward God.

Notice in this definition that the focus is on my actions and attitudes, not someone else’s. This is a key in understanding what it means to repent. Blaming someone else is not repentance. Crying is not repentance. Even feeling sorry for people who’ve been hurt by our sin is not necessarily repentance. True repentance is the inner focus of my heart on my own sin—realizing the pain and separation I have caused in a situation, feeling sorry about my wrong actions and attitudes, and being willing to turn away from my sin. It is recognizing and dealing with the plank in my own eye before trying to remove the speck in my brother’s eye (Mt. 7:3–5).

Aspects of Repentance

Here’s what true repentance should look like in our lives:

Grieving over my sin. When we realize how much our sin hurts God and other people, it should cause deep grief within us. In Ps. 51:3–4, King David stated, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”

David did not ignore or gloss over his sins of adultery and murder once God brought them to his attention. He faced them squarely, looked at the horrible results of his evil acts, and grieved over the hurt he had caused, especially his sins against God. Though David also sinned against people, the severity of his sin against God was almost more than he could bear.

In their book Rekindled, NBA general manager Pat Williams and his wife, Jill, tell how they resurrected an almost dead marriage. One day Jill told Pat of her lack of love for him and her apathy about their marriage. Pat was driven to his knees before God. He began jotting down in a notebook all the specific ways he had sinned against Jill during their 10 years of marriage. As he meditated on this list, Pat realized that “he himself had been the man who was tearing that relationship asunder.” The reality of his own sins and the hurts he had caused his wife tore his heart apart.

The hurts and heartaches brought on by our sin should be almost more than we can bear, too. We would also benefit by writing down the specific ways we have sinned against God and other people in thought, word, and deed. Listing these offenses will help us see the severity of our sins and give us a starting point for the next aspect of repentance—confession.

Confession. Grieving over our sin should create a desire to confess our sin to God and to those we have offended. Confession means we agree with God that our attitudes, words, or actions have been wrong. In the latter part of Ps. 51:4, David states, “You are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” David’s attitude here comes through loud and clear: “God, You are right in judging me, because I have been dreadfully wrong!” Once David realized the horror of his wrong actions, he openly agreed with God about his sin.

Not only did David agree with God about his sin, but he also agreed with others about it. Nathan accused David of having Uriah killed and then taking his wife. David replied to the prophet in humility, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).

As a young Christian, I attended a weekly Bible study where the leader gave members of the group an opportunity to share how God was working in their lives. One week a brother in Christ solemnly stood and confessed that he had committed fornication the week before. Most of us were speechless at this brother’s admission, but our group leader spoke to him with kind words of encouragement and restoration. As hard as it was for this young man to admit his sin, we all learned from his experience. We also saw our leader respond graciously and gently, and the young man experienced the truth described in Prov. 28:13: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Amidst the stench of sin, confession is a breath of fresh air. If we are truly repentant, we will humbly agree with God and with others about our sins. Only the fresh air of confession will cleanse our hurting relationships. We must breathe deeply and frequently of confession.

Calling to God for inward change. Once we have confessed our sin, we should have a desire to forsake our sinful habits and replace them with godly ones. As we look through Psalm 51, we see David crying out to God for inward change. In verse 2 he asks God “to wash away all my iniquity.” In verse 6 he prays, “Teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” And in verse 10 he asks God to “create in me a pure heart.” David wanted God to replace the evil within him with God-honoring attitudes and actions.

As a 19-year-old air force airman, my self-centered life was characterized by dissatisfaction. I worked at a “boring” desk job and lived around other unhappy airmen who gave themselves to all sorts of sinful pleasures. Then one night I heard a clear presentation of the gospel message and placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I asked God to take away my sinful, self-centered desires and replace them with His desires for me.

The next morning when I awoke, I was still living amidst my unhappy neighbors. I walked to the same desk job. My outward circumstances hadn’t changed a bit, but over the weeks and months that followed, my inner attitudes changed. My desk job became a place to learn endurance, to share my new faith in Christ, and to glorify God. I began to see my neighbors as lost people who needed to hear the life-giving message of the gospel. God answered my cry for inner change and gave my life meaning and purpose by transforming my self-centered attitudes into God-centered ones.

In his book Understanding People, Lawrence J. Crabb, Jr. says this about our need for inward change:

Repentance involves much harder work than apologizing for losing our temper and promising never to do it again. Sin hidden from view needs to be surgically removed like a tumor.

God is the surgeon who can remove the tumor of sin from within our hearts. We must allow Him to do His supernatural surgery in us so that we can overcome our sinful nature.

Only God, with our willing obedience, can transform our hideous, sinful habits into channels of blessing to others. No doubt we will fall short as we strive to change, but the inner transformation God brings from our repentance should result in consistent, long-term changes, inwardly and outwardly.

The Benefits of Repentance

As we genuinely repent, we’ll begin to see the benefits of the heart changes we’ve made.

Fruit. In Mt. 3:8, John the Baptist rebuked the religious leaders of his day, saying, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” John’s statement makes it clear that true repentance is evidenced by a changed life on the inside and outside.

I recently heard the story of a Christian man who was confronted by his fellow workers. They shared with him their concerns about some of the attitudes they saw in him, pointing out how his pride and controlling behavior would often come out in staff meetings. Although these were tough words for this man to hear, he accepted their reproof and humbly asked the Lord to change him from the inside out. I met this man a year later. I was impressed by his humility, his listening ear, and his concern for me as an individual. The positive changes in his outer person were proof of his genuine repentance before God.

Repentance always brings identifiable changes in our attitudes, words, and actions. Do you remember what happened when Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh? They repented, turned to God in prayer and fasting, and humbled themselves before Him (Jon. 3:5–9). Just as the people of Nineveh produced fruit with their repentance, we, too, should demonstrate the fruits of repentance, such as a changed thought life, kinder words, and victory over destructive habits.

Inner peace. A changed inward and outward life before God and others will result in inner peace. And this inner peace will stay with us even when things are not going our way.

King David was chased out of Jerusalem by his own son Absalom (2 Samuel 16). During his flight, a man named Shimei pelted David and his men with stones (v. 6). In response to Abishai’s offer to kill Shimei, David said, “If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?'” (v. 10). Why was David able to respond this way while being showered with rocks and dirt? Because peace ruled in his heart. David had fully repented of his sins against Uriah and accepted the consequences of his wrongdoing.

I was once in an air force Bible study in which one of the members, a young man named Dave, was arrested for using illegal drugs. He was a struggling believer who repented of his sin and recommitted his life to Christ after this incident. Dave’s life drastically changed as he began growing in his relationship with the Lord and sharing his faith with others. Although he was now right with God, Dave still had to face the consequences of breaking the law, including the possibility of imprisonment for his wrongdoing.

Did this discourage Dave from following the Lord? No. With peace and joy that come only from above, Dave stepped into the courtroom for his trial, confessed his use of illegal drugs to the judge, and talked about how his life had changed because of his relationship with Christ. The judge mercifully let Dave out of the military without sentencing him to serve any prison time.

Just like King David, we may have to face significant consequences because of our sins, even after we have repented. But the fact that we have grieved over our sins, confessed them to God and to those we’ve offended, and allowed God to bring inward and outward change to our lives will give us a peace that endures these hardships. This deep, lasting, inner peace can be attained no other way.

Taking Stock of Your Soul

Repentance is not easy. It requires honesty, humility, obedience, and endurance. Our reputation before others may suffer. Yet the devastating damage caused by failure to repent is far more costly than the self-sacrificing price of repentance. Many broken lives and relationships bear witness to this fact.

Ask God to reveal any sin in your life that you haven’t fully repented of. By His grace, determine to do what’s right in His eyes.

We Must Take SORROWS and SINS To God

SOURCE:  C. H. Spurgeon

    “Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.”

         — Psalm 25:18

 It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins—when, being under God’s hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain, but remember our offences against God. It is well, also, to take both sorrow and sin to the same place.

It was to God that David carried his sorrow: it was to God that David confessed his sin.

Observe, then, we must take our sorrows to God. Even your little sorrows you may roll upon God, for he counteth the hairs of your head; and your great sorrows you may commit to him, for he holdeth the ocean in the hollow of his hand. Go to him, whatever your present trouble may be, and you shall find him able and willing to relieve you.

But we must take our sins to God too. We must carry them to the cross, that the blood may fall upon them, to purge away their guilt, and to destroy their defiling power.

The special lesson of the text is this:—that we are to go to the Lord with sorrows and with sins in the right spirit.

Note that all David asks concerning his sorrow is, “Look upon mine affliction and my pain;” but the next petition is vastly more express, definite, decided, plain—“Forgive all my sins.” Many sufferers would have put it, “Remove my affliction and my pain, and look at my sins.” But David does not say so; he cries, “Lord, as for my affliction and my pain, I will not dictate to thy wisdom. Lord, look at them, I will leave them to thee, I should be glad to have my pain removed, but do as thou wilt; but as for my sins, Lord, I know what I want with them; I must have them forgiven; I cannot endure to lie under their curse for a moment.”

A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot support the burden of his transgressions.

 —————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening : Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

Please Break This Rule

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 120.

When our wrongs are too obvious to ignore, we practice what I call the 40/60 Rule.

It goes something like this:

“Well, I know I’m not perfect, and I admit I am partially to blame for this problem. I’d say that about 40 percent of the fault is mine. That means 60 percent of the fault is hers. Since she is 20 percent more to blame than I am, she should be the one to ask for forgiveness.”

I never actually say or think these exact words, but I often catch myself resorting to this tactic in subtle ways. By believing that my sins have been more than cancelled by another’s sins, I can divert attention from myself and avoid repentance and confession.

Food for Thought

Jesus tells the perfect “40/60 Rule” story in Luke 18:10-14.

In this passage, Luke says that Jesus addresses the story to those “who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.”

This is the story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Next time you’re tempted to invoke the 40/60 Rule to minimize your part in a conflict, remember that few subjects raise more disdain in Jesus than moderated mercy or a “righteousness ranking” where we give ourselves an unequivocal first place vote.

Tag Cloud