Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 25 May 2022:
Listen to this message from Dr. J. Vernon McGee on Numbers 26: https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=4296&rel=mcgee_j_vernon/Num
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. We must confess our sins to God. 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) The word confess literally means, “to say the same thing,” or concur. Confession is admitting our sin before God and agreeing with God about the seriousness of our sin against Him and about our sinful nature which renders us solely reliant on His mercy and grace. Confession is humble repentance (change of heart) offered confidently in the hope that is in Christ.
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, in the dark. Many people struggle with sin in secrecy 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.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
“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 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 – self-confrontation, 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 harder to not let them down.
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Confession gives others the opportunity to support you in the most powerful way possible – through prayer. Temptation and sin are spiritual enemies which must be fought with spiritual weapons, not simply with will power – “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ) Jesus modeled this truth for us — “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31-32) Confession and prayer bring healing and supernatural strength in your life. Confession allows the church to perform one if its critical functions of building up the body. However, your Christian family can’t pray for you about your battle if they don’t know about it. Confess your sins to caring Christians who will fight alongside of your in prayer. Pray for them too – “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you….” (1 Samuel 12:23)
- Romans 15:30 — I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.
- James 5:16 — 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.
- Ephesians 6:18 — Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
- 1 Timothy 2:1 — First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people….
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.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
“Over the centuries, death has been our relentless and unyielding enemy. No one, regardless of worldly rank, strength, or wealth has been able to escape death. As soon as we are born, death becomes our destiny. Many have tried, but no one has developed an antidote for death.
The reality of the resurrection is that death has been defeated! It is no longer the impregnable enemy, for Christ marched through the gates of Hades and claimed decisive victory over death. He conquered death completely; now He assures His followers that we, too, will share in His victory. Christians need not fear death. Christ has gone before us and will take us to join Him in heaven. Death frees us to experience the glorious, heavenly presence of God. No illness can defeat us. No disaster can rob us of eternal life. Death can temporarily remove us from those we love, but it transfers us into the presence of the One who loves us most. God’s glory is His presence. Death, our greatest enemy, is nothing more than the vehicle that enables believers to experience God’s glory!
Do not allow a fear of death to prevent you from experiencing a full and abundant life. Death cannot rob you of the eternal life that is your inheritance as a child of God. Jesus has prepared a place for you in heaven that surpasses your imagination (John 14:1-4). Death will one day be the door by which you gain access to all that is yours in heaven.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 May 22: Today, recommit to living the confessed, transparent life for sake of the Gospel, trusting in God’s grace and mercy, while continually proclaiming it.