Wednesdays with Jillene: ready and willing… to do what?

“If I’m not ready and willing to talk with you about the sins in my life, then I say nothing regarding the gospel of Christ.”

This… let me tell you, this statement… it has to be one of the hardest statements I’ve wrestled with for a while as God is working the truth of His word in my heart and mind. And I knew when I wrote last week’s post that I wasn’t done yet. So, here we go: What would it mean to be ready and willing to talk about the sins in my life?

How can I ever be ready to talk about this sins in my life?
#1- Acknowledge: acknowledge sin as sin. It is here where we have to be honest with ourselves, cut through the excuses, remove all the justifications for our choices/behaviors and call our wrongdoing what it is: sin.
Psalm 32 says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.”

#2- Confess: confession flows from acknowledging sin but this is the part where we come clean and admit to God that we have gone against His perfect will and plan for our lives. Here we are honest with God about what we’ve done.
Psalm 51 says, “For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.”

#3- Repent: more than saying, “I’m sorry,” repentance grieves sin and desires change. To grieve our sin is to grapple with the brokenness that sin causes as it bears consequence in our relationship with God, our life and our relationship with others.
Proverbs 28:13, ““Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

#4- Knowing truth: as I wrote about last week, sin is real and God’s love for us is real. Being ready to speak about our sin necessitates that we are grounded in the gospel truth of the reality of our sin and its consequence and that we know the truth of what God has done for us in His love through Christ’s redemptive work of the cross.
John 1: 8-9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” To know the truth is to know true forgiveness and seeking truth when you don’t feel forgiven.

We may find that we are ready, we’ve walked the steps and yet the willingness to talk about our sins, that is another issue entirely. What does it mean to be willing?

#1- Honesty: A willing heart to share the truth of our sin is found where honesty reigns. It is hard to be actually willing when we still hold back truth. This doesn’t mean that every person gets all the details of our sin but it does mean that we are not withholding details that allow us to “save face” or fails to convey the true depth of our situation. Truthfulness is key.

#2- Who gets the glory? We are not ready to share when the way we portray the situation gives us the glory, when we portray ourselves as the “hero.” A willingness to share of our sins recognizes that we are admitting our faults, weaknesses and failures as they show the truth of the gospel of Christ. THIS is our testimony: to bear witness to the work of God in our lives.

Testimony is not just the story of our conversion or salvation experience as it also speaks the truth of the intersection of our story and God’s story. When we believe in the truth that God is ever-present with us and His Spirit lives within then that intersection is happening all.the.time. God ordained moments (there are no coincidences in life), answered prayer, the truth of God’s word at work in us, and God’s forgiveness/redemption/sanctification in us happens moment by moment day by day. Our lives should be a testimony to the glory of God manifest in us.

Are you ready and willing to share your sinfulness? More accurately, will you choose share it? In Romans 7, Paul wrestles with the beautiful truth of the gospel and the struggle of living as a follower of Christ this side of heaven. Sin will continue to be a struggle. In that struggle our lives continue to give testimony to the gospel message of Christ at work in our lives.

How? How does being ready and willing to share of the struggle of our sin bear witness to the gospel of Christ?

#1 Confess our sins. In this way, for ourselves, we bear witness to the truth of the gospel alive in us. When we fail to confess it is as if we are saying, “I’ve got this.” In this way, we’re pretending we are strong enough to deal with that which the gospel plainly shows we can’t overcome on our own strength. Even Paul concludes in Romans 7, “21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

That is where each and everyone one of us must land, in the truth of who we are and the truth of who Christ is, there we find the gospel hope. Confession is the recognition of that reality but this is not a recognition to leading to condemnation but to freedom, forgiveness, and the life-giving power of his transformational work within us moment by moment.

It is worth noting what confession is not:
-Confession isn’t glorifying our sins. It isn’t sharing the story of our “bad” behavior as if it were something to be proud of or to laugh at.
-Confession isn’t glossing over the truth or covering up the parts we’d rather not admit.
-Confession is not hopelessness of feeling lost in things that are never going to change in us.

Many of us have to be honest here: it sure isn’t easy to confess our sins. Because in confession we lay bare our weaknesses and surrender any false strength we’ve been holding onto for security.

#2 Share your testimony. Share God at work in your life. We are back to the critical question: Who gets the glory? When we fail to honestly share about God’s sanctifying work in our lives then we are artificially shining the light upon ourselves. How so? Well, when we fail to share about our sin, about the process of conviction, confessing, repentance, forgiveness and God’s redemptive work in us, our lives don’t bear witness to the gospel at work in us.

Sharing our weaknesses, sins and failures is to show God faithful, to show the gospel to be true, to bear witness to truth.

Let’s be honest: We’re scared.

We’re scared that if we really share what was going on then people would know, people would judge, people wouldn’t see us the same. And friends, that may be true. But that may be because we weren’t showing them the truth in the first place. It may be because we aren’t telling ourselves the truth either. If we want to truly see the gospel in our own daily living, then it is time to stop the charade that we have it all together and allow Christ to reign in us.

We’re also scared because we have seen how the world responds to people whose sins have been exposed or who have chosen to admit their failures. Church, how do we respond, when someone admits their struggles, when someone admits their sin do we respond in light of the gospel? When someone comes with true confession and repentance, do we turn to the truth of who God is, what Christ has done for us, and how God meets us in our sinful brokenness with the message of hope in forgiveness, redemption and sanctification?

These are not easy things by any means. But when we share life together we wade through the messy realities because of the beautiful love of God for us in Christ.

~Jillene

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