Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Time to Confess?

…confess your sins to one another…
(James 5:16)

In the meta of our last post, Craver VII had a couple of questions that I think need to be addressed. He said,

When should we confess our sins privately to the Lord, and when should we confess to another? And then, there's all the variations from one accountability partner or spouse to the Oprah show.

Well, the answer to part a, “when should we confess our sins privately to the Lord” is easy: always, of course. Now this isn’t what he means, we know that, I just wanted to throw in a little shout out for authorial intent and why it is sooo important.

These are good questions:

1. When do we confess only to the Lord, and when do we confess to others also?

2. What then of accountability, and the extent of confession therein?

To whom should we confess our sins? Since all sin that we commit is against God, we must always confess our sins before Him, looking to Him for His mercy. Then, if the sin we commit involves others, we most always confess this not only to God but also to them so that our relationship might be restored. In other words, it is the scope of our sins that determine how wide our confession should be, private, group, or public.

Beyond that, what I think people want to know about is what we will call “personal confession”, that is, confession of sins not specifically toward another individual, but sins that are heart matters, acting out impulses, and habitual problems; the when, how, who of confession in these situations is a topic that needs to be fleshed out.

Here are some scriptures to ponder: Nehemiah 9:38 / Ecclesiastes 4:10 / Romans 14:12 / Romans 15:14 / 2 Thessalonians 3:15 / James 5:16 / 1 Peter 4:5

This is one of the really tough areas to get people to sign on to. It’s easy to get people to agree that we need accountability, but implementing this into our own lives is quite another thing.

We must do what we say we are going to do, but accountability as a discipline goes far beyond this. Every individual believer should have someone whom they trust that they will be accountable to regarding their personal sins – those particular sins that so easily beset us. The one to whom we are accountable should be in a position to grant negative sanction – now we see why this is so tough to implement!

This does not mean that we need a ladder upward of accountability or a heavy handed shepherding model of accountability if you will. This is not biblical, and has proven to be very dangerous within Christian circles in the past, as well as having an eerie resemblance to the kingdom of the cults. No, we are talking about individuals being accountable to a trustworthy friend, and to their pastor, and groups of individuals being accountable to their pastors in general. Pastors need to be accountable to a deacon or a trusted pastor friend who will understand their particular stresses.

The Holy Spirit will work through this process if we are serious about accountability. If we are accountable to another person, perhaps the Spirit will lay a burden of intercession upon the heart of our friend if we are in an immediate battle over sin. Certainly the Spirit will help our friend to pray for us on an ongoing basis.

His sovereign working in His people brings about the plans and purposes of God. How wonderful it is that God ordained this to be, that our prayers and fasting and intercession actually make a difference! Be a part of what is going on, and put yourself in a position to be used by the Spirit in a powerful way. Be accountable to someone and watch your spiritual life reach new heights. Have someone else (not the same person) be accountable to you and see that person develop into the disciple they were called to be, and feel yourself become a vital cog within the Body of Christ.

Accountability is the one area that most believers are not truly allowing the Spirit to use other people in conforming us to Christ. It works, and that is what we are afraid of. Let’s be honest, none of us wants to be accountable in our flesh, and that is why the spiritual discipline of accountability is truly a way that the Spirit works in the Body to bring about lasting change.

Here is a link to the Reformed Pastor himself, Richard Baxter, that answers some of these questions and others relating to it http://www.puritansermons.com/baxter/baxter29.htm I am in essential agreement with him, read this, it isn’t long, and let me know what you think…


Craver Vii said...

Baxter said, "When a well-informed conscience telleth you that confession is your duty, let not self-respects detain you from it, but do it whatever it may cost you. Be true to conscience..."
It can be tricky there. Isn't the conscience clouded when sin abounds? I was raised in a different tradition, where it was our practice to tell our sins to a priest. Mistakenly, I believed that act was the way I received forgiveness, nevertheless, I remember feeling a clean conscience after confession. There was a joy and freedom about knowing I was not hiding skeletons in the closet. Until that point, as long as I was protecting myself by covering sin, my mind was in a self-preservation mode, rationalizing things away. I have not thought much of it until I recently looked closely at the life of King David, and saw how he brought his sin out in the open, allowing God to do a healing (though painful) process in his life. David wanted to be right with God, more than to be right with men. That's when I began to ask more questions in this area. Finding an accountability partner can to be key to this part of the process of sanctification.

Thank God that it is the blood of Jesus that frees us, and our sins are forgiven based on Christ's action and not our feelings. Let us not allow shame to empower sin and effectively enslave us, rendering us useless, but rather, let us respond wisely to guilt by taking it to the Lord, and letting Him cleanse us, whether in private or openly.

Even So... said...

I confess, I wanted more comments...

Even So... said...

For a wound to be healed, the Doctor must expose it...