Friday, May 15, 2009

Chatting About Sin?

I'm not quite sure how to post a quote from Twitter - but here's my best shot. Pete Day told me about this excellent quote when we chatted on the phone today. It's my conviction that Christians like talking about sin. In a way I think it alleviates guilt. "A problem shared is a problem halved". One of Satan's tools (and only one) is to persuade you that your sin is unique and you are the worst sinner that you know. But once you get into Christian circles where there is a degree of "honesty" and "accountability" it does become quite deliriously freeing to "share sins".

I found this particularly apt when I sought help for a time from True Freedom Trust - a Christian group believing that celibacy is the only way for those dealing with homosexual orientations. Groups would meet around the country and would essentially talk about what kind of a week they had. Whether it be "good" (not having fallen morally in some way) or "bad" (having fallen morally in some way). It was initially exhilarating to find I wasn't alone - but then extremely depressing. Most weeks just seem to be depressed men and women talking about a life of celibacy with no hope of victory, breakthrough or end. Honest yes - hopeful no.

Then of course there was Sovereign Grace Ministries accountability groups. I've said before that having only just joined the church - I had absolutely no intention of sharing the skeletons in my closet. Those familiar with my story will know that my fears were justified. So most of the weekly discussions in the accountability group revolved around quite "acceptable" sins (as defined by Jerry Bridges) such as impatience with children, spouse, parents, church pastor (me) or other. Honest - not so. Emphasis on the Cross and Christ's imputed righteousness? Lacking.

So here's the quote from "First Importance";

"Don't mistake accountability for fellowship. Satan doesn't mind you talking about sin if you forget about Jesus".

I once heard someone say that we should take 10 looks at Jesus Christ for every 1 look at self. I wonder if we really started doing that whether we would actually start seeing victory over areas of life. REALLY started looking at Jesus. And what He did triumphing over principalities and powers by disarming them by removing the written code - the law.

Ryan Rufus writes in his latest book;

"Sanctification is where your earthly current condition starts to become more and more like your eternal heavenly position. The means by which this happens is not by will power, self-effort or law but through regular encounters with the God of glory and being established in His word of grace".


Nick Cameron said...

This is a really helpful post Dan! Reminded me of James 5:16 - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
But it is finding the 'each other' where you can pray for one another rather than be brought under condemnation, guilt or legalism isn't it!?!?

Dan Bowen said...

Exactly. But I think the mutual trust and love and encouragement and acceptance will ONLY come when each believer is truly grounded and accepted in Jesus Christ. How can we believe that fellow believers are for us if we don't believe that God is for us totally 100% of the time?!

We say we are Cross-centred, but we don't truly and utterly believe the power of what Jesus DID at the Cross!

lydia joy said...

I have some thoughts on James 5:16. I know this came up on my post about accountability and Nick you were asking about that, anyway, just wanted to share some thoughts.
First off, we the bible is written to us, but not all of it is for us. My question is this, James is writing to the twelve tribes across Israel, not to the saints. So it's possible these are Jews that are christians, or not, or it's a mixed group. So when we read James we need to have that in mind. Secondly, Paul, never ever said, "confess your sins".
So, when I read this verse I need to read it in light of the truth of Christ and the finished work. There is no more confessing of sins, because sin has been dealt with. I will confess that I am forgiven!!
However, if I were to take this verse and apply it to myself, I would say, it simply means, when we sin against each other to confess it, and deal with it, rather than burden the relationship with any potential unforgiveness or whatever.........

Anyway, just my thoughts on that verse Nick!!

We have died to sin, and been made alive (new) in Christ, if we are sinning, it's not the sin we need to talk about, it's the source, are we believing who God says we are? We don't need 1 look at ourself, just fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith!!!

I see you are enjoying Ryan's new book Dan, it's good 'eh!!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

that's cool Lydia.
My appreciation of the James scripture is changing yet again.
Our church is changing. i keep saying that because it keeps being true.
What seems to happen now is that confession happens either overtly or silently in the warm Presence of God in meeting contexts. The very real Presence of God will highlight aspects of things and people go to the front to be prayed for. but it is all in the Power of God. Sometimes people get words of knowledge,prophetic insights, or just raw power and people keel over....all I can say is the whole thing is now in the context of
loving safe environment
attitude of wanting to clothe people in the freedom of what Christ has done

in a word the James scripture is a whole lot warmer and more beautiful because people's relationship with the Father or Jesus gets stronger.
Strikes me as a lot more healthy.

lydia joy said...

Chris, I SO agree - you are presenting a very healthy view of that passage as lived out in your meetings. I am really thinking about this passage and how to interpret it and a lot of how I read it, has to do with wrong use in the past. But what you described embodies that verse so well. Share what you are struggling with (in a safe and loving environment) and pray for each other that you may be healed. This is what ministry really can look like! Warm, safe, caring, loving, not condemning. I haven't experienced this myself, this kind of 'church life' in a meeting, but I sure have amidst my trusted friends that embrace the Gospel in it's entirety and when we really see our salvation and that sin and the sin nature have been dealt with and we are new creations, no longer regarded by our flesh, we can love others freely, not based on behavior or performance, because it's not about that first and foremost, it's about life, learning to live in the newness of life we have been given in Christ.
I think it is helpful to get feedback in grace, to help us see where we are believing wrong, and believing lies. So maybe I am rethinking how I see this verse, 'eh. I don't need to share my sins and struggles in the sense that I need to 'come clean'', but I can share my struggles in a way that can help me get more set free from where I may not be experiencing life due to some wrong believing patterns in my life!!! Cool!!
You have challenged my thinking...........

lydia joy said...

think 'self-conscious' confessing vs. 'self-disclosure'

one is associated with guilt and insecurity while the other can be very healthily discussing where you are at...............oy, I think I am on to something here!!


lydia joy said...

Okay, so I am stuck on's the thing. I think a lot of teaching is done on 'what you must do' as a 'christian'. I know in the past my church was very heavy on the 'you must have accountability' - it was basically mandatory, but what it ended up looking like was forced confession, and even of sins that were not really the issues or whatever, it became a time for sin sniffing and was really unhealthy.
Now, as I have come to see grace and the truth of Jesus I realize I want to talk about my struggles with my friends in Christ, I want to process and think and figure out how and why I struggle or sin, not because I am self -conscious, but because I want to understand myself ..........anyway, I realize this whole thing of James 5:16, it's not a demand or command or requirement, it's just good advice and it's a natural outflow of grace, it's a desire in us, because we know others can encourage us in the truth and speak lovingly to us and pray for us!! All of a sudden this is just clicking for me, sorry to go on I just can't help it and I want to set it straight on here too............
This kind of confessing should lead to healing...........not health healing, but healing of beliefs and emotions and so forth. Much like what ministry should look like.
I have heard Bill Johnson talk about 'sozo' ministry, where you go and share your life to receive prayer and healing...............
I am thinking this is more of what the James verse means...........

Any thoughts???? NIck.........

Nick Cameron said...

Hi Lydia - I love your working this out cos it really helps me! I come from a similar background of 'this is what you must do to maintain being a Christian - the rules and regulations'! Interesting sermon by Peter Day at Church this morning - guess it will be on the Lansdowne website sometime this week but if this is something you want to tackle with grace would recommend Peter's sermon from 17th May morning service!
Anyway back to THAT verse!! The one time that I was given it was actually a right time and actually released me to share some stuff with someone who wasn't out to judge but out to help! I think what you said Lydia is really helpful - that it is good advice, not out to snare folks! We are too suspicious! And as you said 'share in order to become more free!' My ongoing battle is more of one of having the courage to share frankly with trusted people and I know I still battle with trusting people after some that I shared with in the past let me down quite cruelly - but God knows my concerns and slowly but surely He will free me completely! This is where Chris's point comes in of being family - a safe loving environment. Family beyond the context of blood family but in the context of God's family.

There is something to be said about the point you made on healing coming as a result of sharing in this context and I think we underestimate this. I have to share from past experience here (without being to open)! The situation when someone gave me that verse was when I knew that I needed help with an habitual sin, it was a snare and I was caught. The cycle was not going to be broken easily but I can honestly say without actually telling someone, them praying and standing with me in the tough days (along with other trusted folks) I don't think I would be free from it now. The healing process from something can take many many years (I am learning that one) BUT without that initial courage to share and pray nothing would have changed.... am I making sense Lydia!?!? This is where I think your point about it being good advice resounds with me as a 'yes.'

The thing that we have to learn is to be a people that have the relationships to share and pray and stand together to see the healing come and if it doesn't to share and pray more and to keep on knocking on the door of Heaven.
It is time to realise afresh that we are saved by a God who isn't standing over us waiting for us to mess up but standing over us to help us up when we fall, when we get knocked down.
We HAVE to make sure that our view of the character of God doesn't change even when life throws us the darkest days, the most difficult of situations and the heartache that comes from being here but all the time anticipating that day when I will see my Saviour face to face and all the pain, all the sin, all the hurt, all the tears will be left behind....... I could go on and on - perhaps I need to blog!!!! ;-D