Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 22 May 19:
1 Corinthians 15:9, 10 — For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Today, Paul models the essential Christian habit, or continuous action, of confession, in this case, public confession. The Bible says, “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) But the Bible also tells us that we must confess our sins, not just to God, but to others as well – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16) Since all sins are against God (Psalm 51:4), and since it is God who ultimate forgives sins, why is it so important for us to confess our sins to others as Paul always did?
1 John 1:5-7 — “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Sin thrives in secrecy. Many people struggle with sin in secrecy (in the dark) because of their shame, guilt, pride or fear; but the Bible calls us to bring all things out into the light through confession, trusting in God’s grace, that we can receive prayer and support from others as well as rest from the burden of carrying that spiritual/emotional load. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but sometimes we lose sight of that truth as we look at the surface lives of others around us – we sometimes think we are alone in the daily struggle. However, confession, walking in the light, helps us see that sin is a common struggle and gives us the opportunity to support one another.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” Confessing our sin to others reminds us of our identity in Christ and affords us the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel clearly. Confession prevents us from presenting ourselves as paragons of virtue rather than saved sinners, reminding us and proclaiming to others that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by our good works, leaving no room for boasting. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Confession tears down the idol of our false image, replacing it with humility and compassion for others. It takes the focus off of us and directs it to Jesus, glorifying Him through our weaknesses. Confession reminds us God’s grace is greater than our sin, that God loves us despite our sins, and that God has removed the power of sin in our lives so we are now free to grow in Christ-like character. Do you have a hard time sometimes figuring out how to share the Gospel with others? Try starting with confession, addressing the sin struggle we all have in common. Then, point to Jesus.
Confession also makes it harder for us to continue in sin or to repeat sin. Confession isn’t easy, its emotionally painful, not something you desire to repeat. Confession often produces painful consequences – practical requirements for restitution, negative responses from others, even potentially broken relationships. However, when the painful truth is exposed, there can be healing and reconciliation, in truth. And when others you care about are holding you accountable, you are likely to work hard to not let them down.
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Confession gives others something specific about which to pray for you and with which to support you. Do you believe there is power in prayer? Confession and prayer empower cleansing in your life.
Living a confessed, transparent life is incredibly freeing, though it might be a hard habit to start, and powerful in that it opens the door wide for sharing the Gospel to others and for fellow Christians to support you in your spiritual growth.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 May 19: Today, recommit to living the confessed, transparent life for sake of the Gospel, trusting in God’s grace and mercy, while continually proclaiming it.