Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Stop Confessing and Start Walking

By: Matt Tyler

The title of this post is a bit deceiving. I sort of chose it to gather a little bit of attention. Let me make myself clear: I am not opposed to confessing our sins to one another. In fact, James 5:16 talks about confessing our sins to one another. Yet our culture's practice of confessing sin to one another is, I think, different than the Biblical model of confessing sins. In our culture, confessing sin usually turns into a pity party in which Person A confesses his sin to Person B, C, and D. Person A never makes a genuine commitment to change and usually falls deeper into sin. Failing to remind Person A of the Gospel, Persons B, C, and D never help A fight his sin. Furthermore, confession of sins is usually done with peers of the same age. I find this disturbing on a few different levels. As for myself, it is difficult to confess my sins to my peers. Many of them are more than willing to gossip about a wide range of issues, why should I entrust them with my secret sins? In addition, many of my peers struggle with the same sins that I struggle with. They cannot offer me any help or advice because they are struggling with these sins themselves. I find it much more beneficial and useful to go to my parents, an older person in my Church, or my Pastor. They have experience in mortifying the sins I have in my life because these wise people have already mortified them. Bottom line: I am not big on confessing sins with my peers.

I want to focus specifically though on something I said earlier. Often times I see professed believers enslaved to their own sin. Professed Christians are completely willing to whine (yes I used that word purposely) about their sin and never actually change. I know I have been guilty of this. The problem with this is that Christians do not live a lifestyle of sin. A Christian progressively grows in sanctification that results in greater maturity and conformity to God's moral law (thank you Tabletalk!). Romans 6:14 is very clear: "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Go back and reread that verse. This does not mean that Christians do not sin. This means that Christians do not live lives that are characterized by sin. Christians fall into sin; they do not swim in it. When the Holy Spirit convicts a Christian with a sin, the Christian mortifies that sin (see John MacArthur's book: The Vanishing Conscience).

I find it sad that so many are willing to open up about their sin and yet never change. It shows a hardness of heart that would give Pharaoh a run for his money. It demonstrates a lack of maturity. Worse still, it gives evidence to the fact that post-modern American Christianity is not Biblical Christianity.

The solution to this problem is quite simple. When I mentioned it to a group of my friends one time, not only did they not believe me, they flat out denied it. Apparently they haven't been reading Romans: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus(6:11)." Romans 6:15-20 basically says to become slaves to righteousness which leads to sanctification. Romans 8: 2 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:5 says that those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

The solution is the Gospel. Jesus lived a perfect life fulfilling all righteousness. We could not do that. He then died on a cross in order to pay for the sins of His elect. Three days later he arose demonstrating victory over sin and death. For those who turn from their sins and put their trust in Christ God will save them. This salvation will result in the Holy Spirit's process of sanctification. Christian, do you want to be free from sin? Walk in the Spirit! Walk in Victory! Unbeliever, do you want to be free from sin? Trust in Christ!

In John Bunyan's classic allegory, the Pilgrims Progress, Christian and Hopeful are walking towards the Celestial City. Somewhere along the way, they veer of course because they believe they have found a shorter path (this is sin). Veering off course brought them to Giant Despair who locked them up in Doubting Castle (this is where sin leads). Having been trapped and beaten for days, Christian and Hopeful find themselves wallowing in their sin fearing that there is no escape. Finally Christian makes a discovery:

'Now a little before it was day, Good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in this passionate speech, "What a fool," quoth he," am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will (I am persuaded) open any lock in Doubting Castle." Then said Hopeful, "That's good news; good brother, pluck it out of they bosom and try." Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom and began to try at the dungeon door, whose bolt (as he turned the key) gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out….Then they went on and came to the King's highway again, and so were safe.'

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