A few of the counseling relationships I’m privileged to be a part of here at ReCAST have come about due to the challenges of sin. Typically, a crisis drives these individuals to seek pastoral counsel and part of working with them involves confronting the dysfunctional or devious behavior that caused or helped cause the crisis. By the time someone feels the need to seek out a pastor, it’s usually a pretty sizeable ball of yarn. Despite being heartbreaking, emotionally taxing, and often intellectually challenging to sort out, these issues in people’s lives provide an opportunity for the power of God to be put on display and for His word, once again, to be proven true and good. So it’s hard work, more for them than for me, but it’s the greatest high in the world to see someone move from darkness into the light, to draw into God, to wrestle with him, and land in humble obedience. Witnessing Holy Spirit infused life change is definitely worth the price of admission.
I hope for more of this in our church, and not just for those who are at a crisis point. I pray for daily life change, for continual surrender to Christ for all of our issues, big and small. The quality of our fellowship demands it.
This process is not easy, though. As I’ve walked with these friends of mine and reflected on my own walk with God, I’ve observed that one of the greatest obstacles to receiving God’s restorative work in our lives is over a fear of true confession. We are blocked from admitting our guilt by taking on a victim mentality, a pride driven assurance that others are mostly to blame for the situations we find ourselves in. The blow to our pride required in sincere admittance of guilt is often too much for our sinful hearts to endure. We say things like, “I may have made some mistakes, but I’m not a _______________.” Or “He just wore me down. I know it was wrong, but what did you expect me to do?” Or “Everyone’s out to get me.” I’ve heard them all and used most.
True confession is an agreement with God over the heinousness of your sin. It’s a willingness to take ownership for your actions. It’s a fessing up to the reality of who you are apart from God. It’s easier to say that I’m a good guy who lies occasionally than to admit that I’m a liar.
But strangely, it’s in that very moment of the reality of sin, that moment that we stop fighting for our reputation, that we meet a Savior who loved us inspite of us and extends his hard earned righteousness to our accounts for nothing other than the humble admission that we really, really need it. That is grace. That grace gives me the courage to own my sin. To say with regretful confidence that, yep, I done it.
In Hosea, God explains the conditions under which he will reengage with his unfaithful people:
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” – Hosea
Later, he gives a promise of blessing for their return:
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lilly; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon…” Hosea 14:4-5
Our spiritual growth and health depends on our willingness to acknowledge our guilt, not list the excuses for it. It’s scary, especially in the face of the One whose judgement we fear most, and possibly due to the human consequences we may face, but He is a compassionate and loving God and in Christ forgives it all. And in terms of the human aspect, people like me and Don and the other people around you can’t really help you until you start being honest. The best counseling in the world can’t fix a fictional you. Confession lets you be at peace with God and genuinely loved by others.
So, is it time for you to fess up and stop making excuses? Test God and see if in the humility of your honest confession He does not begin to heal you in a way you never thought possible.