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Posts tagged ‘confession’

TRUE REPENTANCE OR NOT?

Source:  Mark W. Gaither, Redemptive Divorce, 2008, 141-142

How do we know that repentance is genuine?  John the Baptist told the multitudes to “bring forth fruits in keeping with your repentance” (Luke 3:8).  Paul told the Gentiles “they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20).  It appears, therefore, that genuine repentance will make itself evident by its deeds.  The truly repentant sinner will freely acknowledge his sin (1 John 1:9).  The truly repentant sinner will seek to make restitution for the wrong done, especially if material loss or property damage has resulted (Philem. 18-19).  The truly repentant person will exhibit genuine sorrow over sin (2 Cor. 7:8-10).  The truly repentant person will manifest the fruit of the Spirit:  “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).  (Source:  J. Carl Laney, A Guide to Church Discipline, 1985, 93)

Sometimes people merely pretend to repent in order to avoid loss or retain control.  And they can appear authentically sorrowful, only to return to their destructive behavior later.  An obvious change in attitude and behavior always accompanies repentance.  The following signs of repentance should be observed:

  1. Repentant people are willing to confess all their sins, not just the sins that got them into trouble.  Has the person demonstrated a desire to be completely honest about his/her behavior?
  2. Repentant people face the pain their sin has caused others.  Has the person allowed you to express the intensity of emotions you feel—anger, hurt, sorrow, and disappointment—without trying to justify, minimize, or shift blame?
  3. Repentant people ask forgiveness from those they hurt.  Has the person asked your forgiveness?  Does his/her sorrow seem genuine?  Does the person pressure you to say, “I forgive you?”   Does the person expect you to “get over it” without sufficient time to heal?
  4. Repentant people remain accountable to a small group of mature Christians.  What has the person done to address any issues that may have contributed to his/her destructive choices?  What is the person doing to avoid a relapse and to grow stronger as a God-honoring person?
  5. Repentant people accept their limitations.  Does the person resent your need for reassurance?  Doe he/she seem to understand the need for the rebuilding of trust over time?
  6. Repentant people are faithful to the daily tasks God has given them.  Is the person putting forth good effort to fulfill his/her duties at work and at home?  Is the person moving forward in life with humility, or do you sense that he/she merely wants to get things back to normal as quickly as possible?

Seven A’s of Confession

SOURCE:  Ken Sande

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 7:3-5; 1John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.

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.

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.

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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.

I’m Sorry If, If, If…

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 127

If, If, If… 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other…
Ephesians 4:32

The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt.

The most common way to do this is to say, “I’m sorry if I’ve done something to upset you.” The word if ruins this confession, because it implies that you do not know whether or not you did wrong. The message you are communicating is this: “Obviously you’re upset about something. I don’t know that I have done anything wrong, but just to get you off my back I’ll give you a token apology.”

Food for Thought

How often does if show up in your confessions?

A great way to ruin your engine on your car? Never, ever change the oil.

A sure-fire way to ruin your credit rating? Never, ever pay your bills on time.

What about ruining your reputation at work? Never, ever keep your appointments.

And the best way to ruin a confession? Each and every time, use the word “if.”

[Be mindful] of the power of this little two-letter word. Too many times, it leads to an empty confession. All the words may be right and proper (I’m sorry), but the heart is missing. And anything without a heart is usually dead, good for nothing.

The word “confess” means “to agree with” — you’re agreeing that you’ve done something wrong. If you’re not ready to agree, then don’t confess. Because that ruins everything.

It is a hard fight, BUT the victory is yours

SOURCE:  Octavius Winslow

He Is Faithful To Forgive

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Deal much and closely with the fullness of grace that is in Jesus. All this grace in Christ is for the sanctification of the believer. “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell,” for the necessities of His people; and what necessities so great and urgent as those which spring from indwelling sin?

Take the corruption, whatever be its nature, directly and simply to Jesus: the very act of taking it to Him weakens its power; yes, it is half the victory. The blessed state of mind, the holy impulse that leads you to your closet, there to fall prostrate before the Lord in lowliness of spirit and brokenness of heart—the humble confession of sin, with the hand of faith on the head of Jesus, the atoning sacrifice—is a mighty achievement of the indwelling Spirit over the power of indwelling sin.

Learn to take the guilt as it comes, and the corruption as it rises, directly and simply to Jesus. Suffer not the guilt of sin to remain long upon the conscience. The moment there is the slightest consciousness of a wound received, take it to the blood of Christ. The moment a mist dims the eye of faith, so that you can not see clearly the smile of your Father’s countenance, take it that instant to the blood of atonement.

Let there be no distance between God and your soul. Sin separates.

But sin immediately confessed, mourned over, and forsaken, brings God and the soul together in sweet, close, and holy fellowship.

Oh the oneness of God and the believer, in a sin-pardoning Christ! Who can know it?—He only who has experienced it. To cherish, then, the abiding sense of this holy, loving oneness, the believer must live near the fountain. He must wash daily in the brazen laver that is without; then, entering within the veil, he may “draw near” the mercy-seat, and ask what he will of Him that dwells between the cherubims.

Thank God for the smallest victory gained. Praise Him for any evidence that sin has not entire dominion. Every fresh triumph achieved over some strong and easy-besetting infirmity is a glorious battle won. No victory that ever flushed the cheek of an Alexander or a Caesar may once be compared with his, who, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, overcomes a single corruption. If “he that rules his spirit is better than he that takes a city,” then, he who masters one corruption of his nature has more real glory than the greatest earthly conqueror that ever lived.

Oh, how God is glorified—how Jesus is honored—how the Spirit is magnified, in the slaying of one spiritual enemy at the foot of the cross!

Cheer up, precious soul!

You have every encouragement to persevere in the great business of sanctification. True, it is a hard fight—true, it is a severe and painful contest—but the victory is yours! The “Captain of your salvation” has fought and conquered for you, and now sits upon His throne of glory, cheering you on, and supplying you with all needed strength for the warfare in which you are engaged.

Then, “Fight the good fight of faith, be men of courage,””be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,”—for you shall at length “overcome through the blood of the Lamb,” and be “more than conquerors [triumphant] through Him that has loved us.”

Here, beneath the cross, would I breathe for you the desire and the prayer once offered by the apostle of the Gentiles, in behalf of the church of the Thessalonians: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus. Christ.”  Amen and amen.

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Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878), also known as “The Pilgrim’s Companion”, stood out as one of the foremost evangelical preachers of the 19th Century in England and America.

The Secret To Dealing With Fear and Anxiety

SOURCE:  Dr. Ed Welch/CCEF

“Humble yourselves.” That’s the secret. It has been there all along, but we rarely use it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Fear and anxiety sufferers like myself have tried on a number of Scripture passages over the years. We might start with Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . .” (Matthew 6:26). When we need something easier to memorize we move on to Philippians 4:6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

These passages work very well as counters to low-level anxiety. But, in the face of an anxiety assault—they aren’t enough. At those times, they can sound like mantras that are devoid of power, which is actually a good thing. Anxious and fearful people can easily slip into taking Scripture as a pill. Take one passage twice a day for two weeks and your symptoms will be gone. When the pill doesn’t work we have two choices. We search for another treatment, or we confess that we are using Scripture as a self-help book for symptom relief, in which case it is time to get back to basics. If you choose to get back to biblical basics, Peter’s exhortation to humble ourselves is a great place to start.

I had an anxiety assault recently. I was facing perhaps the worst fear I could imagine, and there was nothing I could do about it. What a mercy that I was confronted with the call to be humbled before the Lord. It resulted in a simple prayer.

“Lord, you are God and King. I am your servant. I know you owe me nothing. For some reason you have given me everything in Jesus. I trust you. And please give me grace to trust you.”

A few minutes later, my prayer moved even closer to Scripture.

“Father, forgive me for always wanting things my way. By your mighty hand you have created all things. And by your mighty hand you have rescued your people. I want to live under your mighty hand. Please have mercy.”

It sounds very simple—and it is—but it changes everything. This is the secret to dealing with fears and anxiety. The words of God, and the comfort of the Spirit, become much more obvious when we are repentant and humble before him. No deals—“if you spare me from this suffering then I will . . .” Just simple trust. We trust him because he is God, not because he is going to immediately remove our anxieties or our fear-provoking situation.

This passage has been a secret because we have typically entered it at verse 7, “cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” But to understand its meaning, you need to start with the preceding verse, “Humble yourselves.”

“Humble yourselves” is the only exhortation in the passage. This is what Peter wants us to hear (and obey). If we jump in at the middle—it makes no sense. We can’t cast our cares on him until we have recognized that he is God and we are his servants who have also been elevated to become his children. A paraphrase could read like this (and I highly recommend putting Scripture into your own words.)

Humble yourself before the Lord. This shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, he is God and King, Lord of all. He is the Creator. You belong to him. The creature is the possession of the Creator. Humble yourself before your King. And here is one way to express this new-found posture of humility: cast your cares on him. Did you catch that? When you come humbly before the King he reveals his unlimited love. Who would have thought? He actually wants you to cast your burden on him. You were never intended to carry those burdens alone. He is the mighty God who never leaves. You can trust him. And this casting is no mere act of your will. It comes as you know that he is God and you are not. Oh, and you can be sure that he will lift you up from your kneeling position and give you more than you ever expected.

A little wordy, in contrast to Peter’s more succinct version, but rambling and embellishment give us more time to meditate on the logic of the passage.

The secret is to
…pause before you head into your favorite passage on fear,
…consider the greatness of God,
…add some of your own confession and repentance as a way to drive the message of humility home, and then
…remember some of those sweet words of God to fearful people.

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

Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. If you want to read more on fear, Ed has written two books on the subject: Running Scared andWhen I Am Afraid.

Forgiveness: Coming Home to God’s Embrace

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Paul Thigpen

When Wycliffe Bible translator Bob Russell sought a word for “forgiveness” in the language of the Amahuacas of eastern Peru, he discovered their unique way of asking one another for pardon. In that culture, if an offender wants to be reconciled with someone he’s offended, he says to him, “Speak to me.”

Russell learned that Amahuacas who are unreconciled typically refuse to speak to each other. So when the offender asks the offended to speak, it’s the equivalent of saying, “Show me we’re friends again by being on speaking terms once more.”

The many biblical terms translated in English as “forgive” reflect a beautiful array of meanings: to cancel debts; to lay aside or to cast away sins; to spare, to cleanse, to rescue, or to free the sinner. Yet the Amahuaca expression strikingly translates what is the most important biblical meaning of God’s forgiveness—above all, it is a reconciliation, the restoration of a friendship with Him that has been marred by sin.

The prophet Isaiah put it this way:  “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Is. 59:2).

Our wickedness is an offense to God’s holiness, and we aren’t on “speaking terms” until the offense is forgiven. But Christ’s sacrifice has made a way for us to be reconciled.

For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins . . . Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

—Col. 1:13–14, 21–22

The sins that came between God and us can be cast aside so that we can be friends again.

All other meanings of the word forgiveness must be seen in the light of this one. As the various biblical terms imply, our debts have indeed been remitted, our punishment has been averted, our hearts have been cleansed and set free, our lives have been spared—and all with a single purpose in mind: that we might receive the greatest gift of all, to be once again “on speaking terms” with our Father in heaven.

Like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, we’re relieved to be swapping our smelly rags for a silken robe and our pigs’ pods for a fat-calf feast (see Lk. 15:11–32). But what could possibly match the thrill of seeing our Father—the one whose heart we broke with our sin—running toward us with open arms? He has welcomed us home again!

It takes two.

If God has gone to such great lengths to reconcile us, why do we sometimes fail to experience His marvelous forgiveness? Instead of returning to our Father as the prodigal son did, why do we so often wallow with the pigs, far away from home?

It’s not that God’s grace isn’t great enough or that some sins provoke Him so mightily that He refuses to forgive. It’s simply that God’s offer of forgiveness is essentially an offer of friendship. Since friendship takes two, our response is critical.

Those who have accepted God’s great offer of reconciliation through Christ may sometimes fail to experience His forgiveness in concrete situations because of certain attitudes or behaviors that are somehow marring their relationship with Him.

I had a close friend in college who always seemed to be short of cash. One day he asked me for a small loan. As he well knew, I didn’t have much money to spare, but I made the loan on the condition that he pay it back by a certain date when I would need it to pay a bill.

That date came and went, and the loan remained unpaid. At first I was upset, because I had to scramble to pay my bill. But I was well aware of his situation, so I let go of my anger and determined to cancel the debt for the sake of our friendship.

Yet there was a problem:  Because my friend knew he was guilty of breaking his promise and causing me hardship, he started avoiding me. He no longer dropped by my dorm room and never returned my phone calls. He began eating in a different dining hall so he wouldn’t run into me.

In short, he lived every day under a cloud of shame that ruined our friendship. And his failure to come to me and talk about his offense denied me the chance to say, “I forgive your debt.”

Opening Ourselves to Forgiveness

In a similar way, experiencing divine forgiveness and its proper fruit depends in part on our right response to God. Scripture reveals several responses that help us open ourselves to receive God’s forgiveness in its fullness. Consider these.

Confess your sin. The scriptural promise of forgiveness for our daily failures includes an important condition: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9, emphasis mine).

King David tells us how his own failure to admit his sin blocked his reception of God’s forgiveness.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long. . . .
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.

—Ps. 32:3, 5

In a sense, our refusal to confess our sins to God is a refusal to be “on speaking terms” with Him. If we would be reconciled, then we must admit to the sins that are damaging our friendship with Him.

Practice humility.   We can’t ask God to forgive our sin—and we can’t accept His forgiveness for it—when our pride keeps us from even recognizing that we’ve sinned. Our Lord’s parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector vividly demonstrates this obstacle to forgiveness (Lk. 18:9–14).

The tax collector was painfully aware of his failings, beating his breast and crying out, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” (v. 13). The Pharisee, on the other hand, was self-righteous (v. 11), patting himself on the back for all his good deeds. Yet despite all the Pharisee’s religious accomplishments, his relationship with God was flawed by pride, and pride is blind to its own evil. Not surprisingly, then, Jesus tells us that the humble tax collector went home forgiven, but the proud Pharisee did not.

Fight against habits of sin.   Like the conscience blinded by pride, the conscience blinded by habitual sin is unable to recognize its need for grace. Perhaps the most startling scriptural example of a hardened conscience is the mocking thief crucified next to Jesus, whose cruel and blasphemous attitude suggests that his heart had been calloused by his crimes (Lk. 23:39). His scorn of Jesus’ sacrifice and his lack of any remorse stand in stark contrast to the humble plea of the other thief, who rebuked the impenitent criminal for failing to see that they both deserved their punishment (vv. 40–43).

The same gift of grace appeared to both men; the same possibility of forgiveness was offered to both. One, because of a seared conscience, refused grace and was lost forever. The other, though equally a sinner, accepted grace—and gained paradise with the Lord.

We may not refuse God’s grace altogether as the one thief did. But if we persevere in a particular kind of sin until it no longer disturbs us, we may become like those whom Paul described as having “consciences . . . seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). Our friendship with God will be damaged by the sin we no longer regret.

Recognize the seriousness of sin.   Even when we must admit to ourselves that some aspect of our attitude or behavior is sinful, we may nevertheless convince ourselves that the sin is of little consequence. Yet only when we recognize the true seriousness of even “small” sins are we able to experience fully God’s forgiveness of them.

Remember the “woman who had lived a sinful life” and who came to Jesus while He was the guest of Simon the Pharisee (Lk. 7:36–50)? She wet the Lord’s feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured costly perfume on them. When this scandalized Simon, Jesus observed that her extravagant behavior reflected her own keen awareness of the seriousness of her sin: She was able to love Him deeply, to enjoy an intimate fellowship with Him, because she knew how great was the debt she had been forgiven.

In contrast, Jesus pointed out, Simon had received Him rather coldly. The Lord compared the Pharisee to a man who “loves little” because he “has been forgiven little.” Self-righteous Simon probably took that to mean that he didn’t have any serious sin to be forgiven. But knowing Jesus’ explicit and repeated condemnations of pharisaical pride and hypocrisy, we might more reasonably conclude that Simon’s problem wasn’t that his sin was insignificant. He had simply failed to recognize just how serious it was, and thus he had failed to accept forgiveness for it.

Recognize grace as a costly treasure.   God’s grace is free, but it isn’t cheap: It cost Him the most precious life of His Son. If we fail to recognize the steep price that was paid to reconcile us to God—if we view forgiveness as cheap—then we’ll place little value on our restored friendship with God, and we’ll be more likely to persevere in sin.

The writer to the Hebrews recognized the seriousness of this problem. He warned that those who “deliberately keep on sinning” (10:26) have actually devalued and despised God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ. Such a person “has trampled the Son of God under foot . . . has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him . . . has insulted the Spirit of grace” (v. 29).

When we persist in sin with the idea, “No problem—God will forgive me,” we lose all sense of the treasure that is God’s grace, and we reject the freedom from sin that it’s intended to bring. Is it any wonder in such a case that our experience of forgiveness will be empty?

Cultivate faith in God’s goodness and mercy.   Sometimes the obstacles to experiencing God’s forgiveness have less to do with an inadequate grasp of the seriousness of our sin and more to do with a wrong understanding of God and His great gifts to us. Our Lord’s parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14–30) reveals the sad irony of those who mistrust God because they doubt the goodness of His character. Though they receive the same gifts of grace others receive, they’re unable to profit from such gifts—they bury them—because they’re paralyzed by fear.

To experience fully the grace of our reconciliation with God—to know the power of His forgiveness—we “must believe . . . that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). If we doubt that God is willing to forgive us, we won’t be motivated to seek His forgiveness. So we must plant firmly in our hearts the scriptural promises of divine mercy, meditating on them and using them in prayer as the psalmist did: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Ps. 86:5).

Realize that no sin is greater than Christ’s sacrifice.   Sometimes we fail to experience God’s forgiveness because we’re tempted to conclude that our sin is so great, or so tenacious, or so shameful that God can’t possibly forgive it. But this conclusion is simply a failure to appreciate the magnitude of what God has done to reconcile us to Himself. Think of the infinite value of Christ’s atoning death. Could our sin possibly be greater than His sacrifice?

Forgive others quickly and completely.   Finally, we must note that Jesus was quite explicit about the consequences of holding a grudge. After teaching His disciples what has come to be called the Lord’s prayer, He added a sobering comment: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt. 6:15). Then, as if to underline the point, He later told the frightening parable of the servant who was denied mercy because he himself was unmerciful (Mt. 18:21–35).

The lesson is clear:  Bitterness damages our relationship with God and blocks our experience of His forgiveness. What we refuse to grant others, we reject for ourselves. For that reason, we must obey the scriptural command: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

On Speaking Terms

Is God’s forgiveness available to all? Is it a free gift? Is it greater than the greatest of our sins? Is He always willing to forgive? Yes, on every count. But our experience of His forgiveness depends in part on our right response to His grace.

Once again, I think of my cash-short college friend. Though he hid from me for months, the story had a happy ending. One night we ended up at the same party. When my friend walked into the room, his eyes met mine, and he knew what he had to do. He took me aside to ask my forgiveness. I told him the debt had been canceled long ago and asked him, with a hug, what had taken him so long to find out.

We were on speaking terms again.

The parallel should be clear. To know the breadth and depth of God’s mercy, we must strive, in all the ways we’ve noted, to let no sins or doubts remain between us, causing a separation. Only then can we enjoy the fullness of a restored friendship with the Father who never tires of running to meet us with arms open wide.

Even Though . . . . . .

SOURCE:  Alice M. Canny/Discipleship Journal

Even after I confessed to God and my husband, my past haunted me. I am an adulterer, I thought time and again. Every day that I get up, that is what I am. I wanted to serve God, but I felt unusable because of what I’d done.

Then God showed me people in the Bible who failed or sinned yet went on to serve Him. I began to imagine how these individuals might complete the statement “Even though I have….” As I wrote out the following list, God’s promises of forgiveness and restoration became real to me.

Abraham: Even though I have lied, I can be God’s friend.

—Gen. 12:10–20, Jas. 2:23

David: Even though I have committed adultery and murder, I can have a heart that pleases God.

—2 Sam. 11:1–17; Acts 13:22, CEV

Elijah: Even though I have been depressed, I can regain strength and joy to serve God.

—1 K. 19:3–18

Jonah: Even though I have refused God’s assignment, I can find it again.

—Jonah 1–3

Matthew: Even though I have committed extortion, I can be a disciple of Jesus.

—Mk. 2:13–17

Zacchaeus: Even though I have stolen from others, I can feast with Jesus.

—Lk. 19:1–10

Martha: Even though I have been distracted, I can experience Christ’s love and truth.

—Lk. 10:38–42, Jn. 11:5, 21–26

Peter: Even though I have denied Christ, I can feed God’s sheep.

—Jn. 18:15–27, 21:15–18

Thomas: Even though I have doubted, I can believe.

—Jn. 20:24–29, Acts 1:13

Paul: Even though I have fiercely opposed Christ, I can be a great witness for Him.

—Acts 22:1–21

These people sinned and displayed weakness, but none of them became permanently unusable to God. The same is true for us. Though we may stray from God’s plan for our lives, He promises to forgive us when we confess (Is. 44:22, 1 Jn. 1:9). We do not have to wear our failures like a name tag: liar, thief, adulterer. The only label that permanently defines us—and qualifies us for God’s service—is “child of God.”

Guilt: Dealing With It and Moving On

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

Action Steps

  1. Pay Attention to the Feelings
    • Guilt, like physical pain, is a signal that something is wrong.
    • Go to God in prayer and ask for insight and wisdom.
  2. Determine the Source
    • Are the guilt feelings because of sin or because of some issues that were out of your control?
    • Seek God patiently. Just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you have sinned; yet, you may need to let God peel back some layers to reveal a sin long forgotten that needs to be resolved.
    • If the guilt feelings are out of your control, you still need to find a way to resolve them.
  3. True Guilt
    • If you are feeling guilty because you have committed a sin, what steps will you take to receive forgiveness from God?
    • What steps will you take to receive forgiveness from and/or make restitution to the person?
    • If an apology or restitution cannot happen (for example, the person has passed away), then plan a way to deal with the guilt. Suggest writing a letter to that person and providing a “ceremony” of sorts where the guilt can be given to God.
    • Realize that “telling all” can be a way of inflicting more pain on others. Permanent relief from moral guilt comes from God’s forgiveness, not necessarily public confession. The scope of the confession should not exceed the scope of the sin.
  4. False Guilt
    • If the guilt is self-worth related, make a list of all the things God has done for you, including paying the price to save you. (Note: You can help with providing suggestions and scripture to back it up.)
    • Continuing to punish yourself for being human is useless. Do what you can and move on.
    • Good works never erase guilt. —Erwin W. Lutzer
  5. Move On
    • Once you’ve confessed, apologized, and/or made restitution, don’t beat yourself up anymore. Leave it with God.
    • Turn off the mental tape player. Satan, not the Holy Spirit, is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). Satan wants to create feelings of condemnation resulting in unnecessary guilt. Turn him off!
    • Keep a “guilt pot”. Anytime you feel guilt creeping in, write that guilt feeling on a piece of paper and throw it in the pot. (The pot will remind you that God is the Potter, always at work on you, and you are merely the clay—Isaiah 64:8.)
  6. Keep Active
    • Do things for other people.
    • Practice being forgiving in your relationships.
    • By providing encouragement to someone else, you will receive encouragement back and that will increase your feelings of self-worth.

Biblical Insights

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10

Adam already knew he had sinned. He felt that inner awareness of wrongdoing called guilt, given by God as an internal corrective.

It could have brought Adam to repentance and confession. Instead, Adam tried to cope with guilt and shame by avoidance and denial.

As long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our wrong actions, we remain mired in sin. Guilt cuts us off from God’s redemptive healing.

God invites us to own our sin and confess it to Him. When we do so, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” Ezra 9:5, 6

Despite our mistakes and failures, God is willing to meet us at our point of need.

Sometimes we can make amends by specific actions; at other times we must suffer the consequences of our sin. But through repentance, we can experience God’s grace and love.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”John 8:31–36

No truth is more glorious to imprisoned people than to be told that they are no longer condemned but are set free! Christ brings that good news.

Often, however, believers who have been set free still keep themselves behind bars. They feel guilty about their past, or guilty that they cannot be perfect in this life.

Guilt can be good when it helps us to know when we have done something wrong. But guilt can also keep people from being able to rejoice in their new life or to bring others to Christ. That kind of guilt is a prison. We needn’t stay locked up if Christ has set us free.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Not keeping the law perfectly leads to condemnation. Since no one can keep God’s law perfectly, all people are condemned. The law brings guilt because people realize they are powerless to keep it.  Christ’s death on the sinner’s behalf, however, sets them free.

If Christ no longer condemns us, then neither should we condemn ourselves.

As A Christian, I Struggle With Sin — Do You?

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by John MacArthur

Christians struggle with sin. That surely comes as no surprise to you. As you mature in Christ, the frequency of your sinning decreases, but your sensitivity to it increases. That doesn’t mean you are more easily tempted, but that you are more aware of the subtleties of sin and how it dishonors God.

Some people think you should never confess your sins or seek forgiveness, but the Lord instructed us to do so when He said for us to pray, “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). That’s the believer’s prayer for the Father’s forgiveness.

John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). That passage doesn’t tell us how to get saved, as many have taught. It tells us how to distinguish believers from unbelievers: believers confess their sins; unbelievers don’t.

The phrase “forgive us” in Matthew 6:12 implies the need for forgiveness. “Debts” translates a Greek word that was used to speak of a moral or monetary debt. InMatthew 6:12 it refers to sins. When you sin, you owe to God a consequence or a debt because you have violated His holiness.

When you sin as a believer, you don’t lose your salvation but you will face God’s chastening if you don’t repent. Hebrews 12 says, “Those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives . . . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (vv. 6, 10).

If you are harboring sin, confess it now and allow God to cleanse you and use you today for His glory.

Hidden Sins Can Eat Us Up

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

If it is difficult for you to identify and confess your wrongs, there are two things you can do.

First, ask God to help you see your sin clearly and repent of it, regardless of what others may do (Ps. 129:23-24). Then prayerfully study his Word and ask him to show you where your ways have not lined up with his ways (Heb. 4:12). Second, ask a spiritually mature friend to counsel and correct you (Prov. 12:15; 19:20). The older I get, the less I trust myself to be objective when I am involved in a conflict. Time after time I have been blessed by asking a friend to candidly critique my role in a conflict. I have not always liked what my friends have said, but as I have humbled myself and submitted to their correction, I have always seen more clearly.

Food for Thought

In Psalm 32, David talks about how hidden sin eats us up. “For 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 the summer.”

Yet as we read on in the chapter, David identifies no less than seven mighty acts God will work on our behalf as we confess our sin. He begins with the stunning promise that “surely in the rush of great waters they shall not reach him” and ends with the assurance that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord”.

Are you struggling with private or unconfessed sin? Read Psalm 32 and see if you can identify all seven of the ways God promises to intercede on your behalf as you take the difficult step of acknowledging (even publicly, if appropriate) your wrongdoing. Then read 2 Timothy 2:21 and take comfort in the knowledge that God is seeking to cleanse you from your sin to use you for noble purposes ahead.

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