How foolish is that!? I want to be always right, and always righteous. But I’m not.
I’m working at it. I don’t want my life to be vile to Jesus! I want to be a more righteous person. How about you?
Philippians 2:12 So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ].
It’s easy to loose a right perspective with what it means to follow Christ. We are surrounded by violence and anger in our neighborhoods, in the news, in movies and TV programs. Matthew said that in the end times (our times?):
“Because lawlessness is increased,
the love of most people will grow cold.”
– Matthew 24: verse 12
Keep fervent in your love for others. Are you one of the “most”? How hot is your love for others? Gettin’ kind’a cold? A good love thermometer we all have handy: Examine your self. Want to raise the bar? This is the level of love I’m aiming for: a 1 Corinthians 13 love.
Would you say you are fervent in your love for others? [Google Fervent: having or displaying a passionate intensity. Synonyms: impassioned, passionate, intense, vehement, ardent, sincere, fervid, heartfelt; enthusiastic, zealous, fanatical, hardcore, wholehearted, avid, eager, keen, committed, dedicated, devout.]
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Romans 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1 Corinthians 2:15the spiritual man [the spiritually mature Christian] judges all things [questions, examines and applies what the Holy Spirit reveals]
Lazy Christianity allows a hedge of thorns to grow up around your soul, says the Proverbs. Over time faith gets lazy.
Proverbs 15:19 The way of the lazy is like a hedge of thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him],
But the way [of life] of the upright is smooth and open like a highway.
We all like “smooth and open” highways, but… little sins prick and cut you up, and soon you’re entangled in a hedge of bad habits, “little sins” you allow to accumulate through lazy negligence and willfulness. (Ecclesiastes 7:17; Psalm 19:13; Psalm 119:10; Proverbs 18:1; Isaiah 57:17).
We can stop those little pricks by cutting away the hedge of thorns.
Isaiah 57:17 “…he went on turning away and backsliding, in the way of his [own willful] heart.”
Numbers 33:55 “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those you let remain of them will be like pricks in your eyes and like thorns in your sides, and they will attack you in the land in which you live.”
Little things you leave inside your life: “little sins”, habits, tendencies, routines…. They become “like pricks in your eyes and like thorns in your sides”, and they will attack you when you least can defend yourself against them! Little pricks!
We should constantly be turning to God in confession, not constantly “turning away and backsliding”. It’s a choice we make. It’s not automatic. We work at it!
I think Christians in the spotlight, like pastors and evangelists and the rich and famous, do the rest of us a disservice by being so “private”. Not that we must be public with all our sinfulness!
But so many Christians in the spotlight project an image of being without fault. It seems not many of them follow the exhortation in Scripture to “confess your sins to one another”:
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored.
The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].
Our Image As Saints. How have Christians gotten a public image of being “saints”? I think we work hard at projecting that image – the sinless Christian! So many Christians try to look sinless. But that is not the truth, so we are rightfully accused of being hypocrites. Or are you real with others?
The reality is that we Christians are all sinners. Even now.
Why do we put so much work into looking like we are sinless!? We are all a’ workin’ more on being less sinful, but we shouldn’t be a’ workin’ more on looking good, and projecting what we are not.
We are saved sinners. Everyone of us.
Christians are not saved because we are perfect. We are saved because of His grace, not because of any saintliness. He forgives our sins so we are spotless before Him positionally in His Courts.
We are no longer under His condemnation. But that does not mean that we are no longer sinful. Not a one of us!
We are going to heaven — because God got our attention and we repented. We are now born again because His sacrifice makes us eligible to be called His children. It’s not of us. It’s all of Him.
We are still sinful humans in the flesh. But our great relief now, is that we look forward to the Day we will be sinless in practice 100% of the time!
I admire and, frankly, more highly respect those few radio preachers and teachers who try to be more transparent and confess that they themselves struggled with a specific sin. I was especially struck by Chuck Swindoll when he shared in his public broadcast years ago how he selfishly used his influence and maneuvered to get the best boat for himself and his son when at a church retreat.
Swindoll admitted an awful, selfish “prick in his eye”. Nobody does that! Well, we are exhorted to do just that, with “one another”: admit we are sinful. (See unrelated video of Swindoll: YouTube)
And I have heard other well known Christians leaders who have confessed to failing also, like: Chuck Smith and David L. Hocking (See: LATimes article re: Hocking). Some have hidden sins, and yet are open about their struggles with sin. Hocking had sin way out there in the public eye, but he ‘owned up to it”.
- Book written for how to deal with sinning pastors: If Ministers Fall, Can They Be Restored – by Tim LaHaye
- Willow Creek Promises Investigation Amid New Allegations Against Bill Hybels. “We are sorry,” elder board says as more women claim misconduct. – April 21, 2018 11:07 AM. Source: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/bill-hybels-willow-creek-promises-investigation-allegations.html
Confess to others in the faith. The Apostle James is saying in James 5:16 that we ALL should be transparent with our sinfulness. Confess to others in the faith. If we actually practiced this in our fellowships, we would walk stronger, and be spiritually healthier — encouraged by others of like mind and faith.
If we all confessed in this way — gossipers would have less to gossip about! We wouldn’t feel befuddled and besmirched. And unforgiven sinners might more readily understand that the Gospel is for all of us sinners.
This confessing to each other is not in order to be forgiven by God! (See: 1 John 2:12) We go to God directly – to be forgiven. We do not need to confess to a priest or pastor – in order to be forgiven.
What a burden some religions demand of their followers, saying they must confess to their religious leaders. That is not in Scripture at all.
We should confess “to one another” so “…that you may be healed and restored.” According to James 5:16, confessing to a brother or sister in the Lord brings healing and restoration in “your inner man” – in relation to those sins.
We sinners need to know that others struggle as we do. I become stronger in my faith when I confess my sin to a brother or sister, and they share their struggles also.
Oh, the phony facade of “I’m okay. You’re okay.” Confession buries that facade.
Our Practice. And yet, it seems that in our day and age… we don’t practice this (James 5:16) — because people are so judgemental and condemning of those who fail, and, many are gossipers about those who fail. The church destroys admitted sinners!
Maybe we are conforming to the world, following the bad examples around us, like fake-news journalists, late-night show hosts, and other comedians?
So many Christians are afraid to follow Scripture here — and confess our sins “one to another”, lest we be put-down, shut-down, let-down, clamped-down, shunned and, well, you get the picture. The reasoning here would be:
I am already struggling with that sin…
so why would I want to come to you,
“confess my sin”
and be beaten up over it!?
That would be masochistic of me!
What kind of an idiot would I be!?
Some pastors even include private confessions from their counseling files — as little anecdotes in their sermons. Without prior consent, they use real life stories from their “supposedly confidential” counseling sessions! That is a breach of confidence.
They all tell the stories supposedly “anonymously”. But I was amazed one Sunday when I recognized myself in the pastor’s sermon — after having shared “my struggles” with that pastor myself! Wow.
That was totally improper and inexcusable behavior – breaking trust that way. Would you feel free to submit to pastoral counseling from a pastor like him? Come-on pastors! Tighten-up your trade.
Why We Do Not Confess. For example: If I confess that I, in anger flipped-off a stupid-ass driver just yesterday… (I didn’t… it’s been longer than that!)
- I am afraid you will gossip about my sin and reject me (“Oh my! How could you…!? That’s not right!)
- I do not need your forgiveness – because I did not sin against you. (I confessed to God, and we are fine now.)
- I need your acceptance and understanding and love and patience…
- I do not want your “counsel” and advice
- I do not need your judgemental attitude and rejection, and be told I’m a sinner. (I just admitted I was wrong! You condemn me, but give a pass to “the other driver” who broke the “little” law of mountain road courtesy. We are so selective of what sins we will condemn!)
- I do not want you to go and gossip about my sinfulness
- If I am in the mood, pray with me
- If I’m still in my sinfulness, what ever it may be — I need your love and acceptance (not of my sin, but of me)
- I do not need you to agree with my sin, and be my buddy in sin and say “it’s okay”
- I do not need you to tell me what I should or should not do
- I need to know that I am “safe” with you
Maybe when I confess my sin to you, you could…
- confess your sin to me
- reciprocate, as in “confess your sins to one another“
- be the “one another” in this equation of “to one another”
It takes humility to admit I was wrong. It takes trust in you. I must trust that you will not gossip about my struggles. I must trust that you will not condemn me for my sin.
Jesus does not condemn me when I sin! He continues his work of perfecting me.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]….“
I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own].
Isn’t that amazing? THE Holy One…. He woos me back. Cuts me some slack. He helps me get it all back together. God does not approve my sin; He wants me to be pure and righteous, all together. But my God is a 1 Corinthians 13 type of God (verses :4-8a)!
Try this. Put “God” or “Jesus” wherever you see the word “love” in this passage. THAT is our God. God is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [a]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…”
Here is this passage with the word “love” replaced with “God”:
God is patient, God is kind and is not jealous; God does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 God does not act unbecomingly; God does not seek its own, God is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 God does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 [a] God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 God never fails…”
Our God lived as a human man, Jesus. He knows what we go through – living in a fallen world. He resisted all sin, and put-up with the sins of others around Him – in love.
The person I can trust:
- is loving, accepting, gentle, kind — as in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
- is full of this — Ephesians 4:17-34
- is full of this — Galatians 5: verses 22-24
- is not full of this — Galatians 5: verses 19-21
- is not sharing with me what Jack or Jill did down the street (Like: already gossiping to me even as I am sharing something confidentially to them!)
Be someone I can trust. Know that I’m a’ workin’ more on myself, too.