Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Make Our Joy Complete

Confession of Sin

We all know that being a Christian is about not going to Hell when you die. But if that’s all you know, you’re in serious trouble. Being a Christian is not simply about not going to Hell when you die. It is really about living with God for eternity. Living with God means living in a close relationship with him. It means caring that he is God, caring that he wants a relationship with us, caring that he wants us to have relationships with one another, and caring that we know our place in the system.

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).

Overview of the Text
This is one verse in the first chapter of a letter written by the Apostle John. We don’t know where the original recipients resided, nor much about them. We can tell from the context that they were being bothered by folks claiming to have knowledge that differed from the Apostles and thus from Christ. These folks are called AntiChrist by John in 2:18, 22; and 4:3. But John’s over all goal in writing the letter is so that the readers might have full and complete fellowship with God and with one another (1:3). He goes on to say that writing this and having the readers heed the writing will bring John and his readers great joy, complete, finished joy (v. 4).

He begins the actual body of the letter by saying that if someone is not living like a Christian, he is lying to himself about whether his one or not (v. 4, 5, & 6). On the other hand if we live like we are all lit up by the presence of God, we really do have fellowship with God and with one another (v. 7). Then, in verse 8 and again in verse 10 he tells us that if we claim to walk in the light, but continue to sin, we are lying. And if we say we have no sin, or say that we have not sinned at all we make him out to be a liar. We are sinners (Rom 3:9, 23; 5:12). There is no one who is not. Saying you are not only calls God a liar (v. 10).

Nestled in between these two verses is our hope (v. 9).

Sin Is
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 Jn 3:4). Love God with all your heart (Deut. 10:12; Mt. 22:37)…Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 22:39)…love your enemy (Mt. 5:44)…love your wife (Eph. 5:25)…love your husband (Tit. 2:4)…love your children (Tit. 2:4)…honor your parents (Eph. 6:2)…the brothers (1 Jn. 5:2). Love means laying down your life for the beloved John 10; 1 Jn. 3:16).

All wrongdoing is sin. (1 Jn 5:17)

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (Jas 4:17)
The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind. (Pro 24:9) Living, thinking, talking, joking, existing like a pagan is living according to folly.

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Rom 14:23)

The Fact of Discipline
Hebrew 12:5ff tells us that God disciplines his children. In fact if he didn’t discipline us, we would know that we are not his children. The fact of his discipline encourages us to come to him for help.

Application of Discipline
Psalm 32:3, 4;
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath!
For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—It also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.

Isa. 59:1-3
Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.

Confess your sins
The Greek word for confess used in our text means to “say the same thing.” When you confess your sin to God and to those you have sinned against, you are to say the same thing about it that God says about it. Was your anger, fear, hurt feelings, envy, lust, strife, or retaliation something that God looked on with pride and good cheer? What does God think about your thoughts, motives, and behavior? Well, find out, and then say the same thing about it that God says. He hates it. He abhors it. He is embarrassed by it. Because of your behavior, he has turned his face away from you and has withdrawn his joy (Ps. 32:4, 5; 38:1-8; Isa. 59:2; Heb. 12:5ff).

Part of this confession means that you need to acknowledge that your sin is your sin. It was not caused by anyone else. You chose to behave in the way you did and nothing anyone did or might have done forced you to do it. Suppose your wife burned the toast and as a result you flew into a rage, screaming, yelling and throwing things. Of course you can accuse your wife of causing you to sin by burning your toast, but think about it for a minute. How did her burning the toast force you to react the way you did? Did she burn the toast and then run over and grab your brain and squeeze it really hard until anger and rage popped out? I don’t think so. Your sin is your sin. You did it yourself. Your wife is not your leader. You need to own your sin.

According to James your desires were enticed when your wife did not act in a way that suited your perceived role as head of the home and king of your castle (Jas. 1:14). She did something that you did not want and that you did not think you deserved. The burnt toast, enticed you to grasp for your right to be in charge. Your wife was not giving you what you thought was your due. Then, when your desires were tweaked and you gave in to them, you flew into a rage and sin was present (Jas. 1:19). But your wife did not cause you to sin. She simply presented the temptation to sin. You saw the temptation, the burnt toast, assumed that she did it to “get to” you, and you chose to respond in anger. Your behavior was your sin. It had nothing to do with her or her burnt toast.

Incidentally, your sin consisted not only of the anger expressed by yelling and throwing things, but also your heart. Where do these desires live to pop out at the most inopportune times? Jas 4:1 says the fights and quarrels are caused by the pleasures that dwell within you. The Bible says evil things come from an evil heart (Lk. 6:45). The root sin, then, was a heart that thought it deserved more than it was getting. The yelling and throwing things was only the indicator that more is going on deeper inside you. Your real sin is that you believe the world revolves around you. And this belief is exhibited when circumstances don’t go your way or when events differ from what you think you deserve.

Putting these things together, so far, you must acknowledge that your sin is yours alone. You must admit and embrace the fact that the anger, the yelling, and the throwing things were sin, and that the sin comes from your evil heart. The heart, incidentally, is the core of your being. The heart is who you are deep inside. If you were to strip away all your inhibitions and the controls on your tongue and behavior, the things you would say and do would be a direct reflection of your heart—who you really are. When we sin, we are exhibiting who we really are in that instance. We are throwing off all restraint and doing what our heart desires. Confession of sin admits this and begs God to create in us a new heart (Ps. 51:10).

Why might a person not confess their sin? Or what might they do instead?
Ø      Justify the behavior by pointing out the other persons fault in the fracas.
Ø      Excuse the sin based on the other person’s responsibility in the fracas.
Ø      Pass the buck—these are all examples of this so far.
Ø      Hide from the situation—get a new job, move away, never come again, etc.
Ø      Delay confession
Ø      Confess in vague, general terms.
Ø      Claim there are too many to do this, I’m going to do it again anyway, Nobody’s perfect.
Ø      To proud
Ø      Can’t afford the restitution
Ø      Bitterness—sees only the other person’s fault in the fracas and can’t see their own part. They are angry, hurt, frustrated, feel embarrassed, justified,

Confession of sin means, then, to say the same thing about your thoughts, motives, and behavior that God thinks of them. This includes admitting that your sin as yours alone and not related to anything anyone else did, said, or thought. You may not blame your sin on the perceived motives of what anyone else did. You were not being controlled by anyone or anything else. You chose to act the way you did, and you must own it. When confessing sin to others, you must be very careful not to mention their sin. This is a time when you are confessing your sin, not accusing someone else of their sin. You also must be very careful not to accuse the other person of putting a stumbling block in front of you. This comes across like a ploy to redirect whose fault your sin is. When confessing sin, only mention your sin and your choices.

As part of the confession of sin process, you need to make a plan for restitution. You need to make right anything you did in your sinful state. If you stole anything, broke anything, hit anyone or anything, destroyed anyone or anything, you need to make arrangements to repair the ruins.

Also, as part of the confession process, repentance needs to be present. You must confess your sin, but also make provisions for turning away from the sin, for doing what is right. You must renounce your claim to yourself as lord of your life, and submit yourself to Jesus as Lord of all. Repentance means to turn from your way to God’s way. This begins in the heart and mind and comes out your finger tips. You must “put off the old man” and put on the new (Eph. 4:22, 23).

Do you want to be clean before God and man? Confess your sins. Do you want to be cleansed from all unrighteousness? Confess your sins. Do you want to walk with God as a friend for eternity? Confess your sins. Do you want to live at peace with all men? Confess your sins. Do you want to live as a beacon set on a hill testifying to the glory and majesty of God? Confess your sins. Make our joy complete. Begin by confessing your sins.

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