4 Jan 2009

Confessing to one another - setup for judging?

Submitted by theshovel
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Jim, Hello there my friend! Seems there are always many questions. So this is what has been on my mind lately. Now we know that anyone in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. And now we only see ourselves and others according to the new in Christ. So here is my question..... I believe there is a scripture that says that we confess our sins one to another....which from what I understand is just for peace between family members. Which makes sense............. but....if we are even looking at each other in terms of what has offended us from another brother/sister isn't that almost like giving opportunity for the flesh. I mean in the sense that doesn't that put us back in the realm of judging our brother based on death??? When we are hurt by things that happen to us from others, is there a sense of just ignoring what happened?? I guess we still see the person from the reality of Christ... But I'm not sure how confessing our sins one to another isn't somehow connected to an offense that can only be noticed by observing law. Maybe I'm thinking too much about this...... Sincerely Wondering

Hello my friend!

Questions are good and are sometimes better than answers. :) There is such a scripture as you mentioned:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

For those who use the Bible as a general purpose book of rules and principles for Christian living, this verse is often highlighted as a how-to. Of course, even if it was supposed to be a universal principle, why do we only find it in James' letter to the scattered believing Jews? Don't you find it rather odd that we have to go searching through the NT writings to find that one reference to something that seems so critical? Take a look at the context surrounding this verse.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:14-16

From the way the verse it situated, it is connected to those who are sick and who call the elders to pray over them. Notice in this context that, if the sick one has committed any sins they would be forgiven him. That suggests to me that in the midst of his session with these older, wiser men a person might open up and really tell them what is going on within him that was attributing to his sick condition. Things like hatred, anger, worry, resentment often cause sickness, and I think this internal struggle within a believer may be what is referred to here. That's why the follow up statement begins with "therefore...".

Perhaps because this verse has been held as a Christian principle with a formula, we have overlooked a simple fact. If those who are wise in Christ are called together to minister to a person who is sick, and it is discovered in the process that the person was making himself sick because of unconfessed sins, then we might ought to consider that the confession came out because they were ministering freedom FROM sin through Christ. In other words, the unconfessed sins were symptoms of those caught up in the legality James so clearly contrasted with life throughout his letter.

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures. This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:13-20

The mind of law sees God as the one who tempts, for it cannot see the source of sin from within itself. James pleaded with the brethren to not be deceived, and instead to see that only good comes forth from the Father of lights. Notice how James stood upon the truth that through the word of truth they had been made part of the first fruits - that which was brought to God for his own purposes. It is against this freedom that James contrasts everything to do with lust and sin through the rest of his comments.

but....if we are even looking at each other in terms of what has offended us from another brother/sister isn't that almost like giving opportunity for the flesh. I mean in the sense that doesn't that put us back in the realm of judging our brother based on death??? When we are hurt by things that happen to us from others, is there a sense of just ignoring what happened??

There is a huge difference between ignoring offenses and knowing where they come from. Ignoring them actually plays right back into the mind of legality because we have to start off with a pretense. The truth is that those who live in the realm where sins have to be hidden are already viewing one another according to the flesh. If there is any wisdom in Christ, it is found right in the midst of this fabricated world of the flesh that constantly demands for us to believe its illusions. We are not protected through ignorance, but through faith. We know what is going on all around us, we understand that many are caught up in a perception brought on by viewing things according to the law, and we know that this is the source of their confusion and problems.

If a brother is caught up in the mind of the flesh, he will view me and treat me accordingly. There may be offense coming from his end even though there may be none taken by me. Now, this does not suggest that I would not feel the hurt, but that I stand in freedom and refuse to view him according to his own delusion. Of course, I am at the same time presented with the demand of the fleshly mind to view all things accordingly. Then again, this constant contrast between flesh and spirit has been turned into good for me because through it I cannot escape the obviousness between death and life. It is not the muddied mess that I used to perceive; for one emits the stench of death and the lie, the other carries the sweet fragrance of life and truth.

While I may view my brother according to life, my brother may be caught up viewing himself and me according to death. So, it is not really about ME, rather, my brother needs to see the reality for himself. He needs to recognize where the offense within him is coming from so that he might stand in confidence. He needs to know why I do not hold his offense against him, even though he is caught up in holding it between us. Life is not found in ignoring what happened, but rather in coming to terms with why what happened came about in the first place. True confession of sins comes from within the new life as it refuses to be defined by the old life from which those sins play their games.

This is similar to what Paul wrote of in Galatians 6. You may want to check out something I wrote about that a while back. Just do a search for "Galatians 6".

Let me know what you think, okay? :)

Jim

New Testament: 

Comments

Confession: If a believer commits adultery and later is truly repentant, feels guilty and sorrowful for what he did is there any need or obligation to tell his wife about his stupid mistake? The wife, a believer also, knows nothing about the adultery and it's nearly certain she probably will never find out about the adultery from anyone unless the husband tells her. If he tells his wife about his adultery she will experience great pain and their marriage will suffer even more. The husband is already going through much shame and guilt so why tell her and cause her pain. He does not want that for his wife. What she doesn't know will not hurt her, but if she knows it may end the marriage. He still loves his wife very much and he realizes he made a terrible mistake. What would you do? confess the adultery to his wife or don't confess?

theshovel's picture

Hello nerg0, thanks for your potent question.

As far as hiding an adulterous affair from one's wife on the basis that what she doesn't know won't hurt her misses an important point, which is that the one who does know about it has already been doing, thinking, and responding in view of the shame and guilt he hopes she will never find out. Even if she never found out, she may not have suffered from the direct knowledge of the affair, but she will have been affected in countless ways by how it had affected her husband.

There is no doubt that this is a tough predicament for any spouse to be in but keeping it hidden in hopes of sparing one's partner is still a rationalization that only makes sense in the mind of the one who is caught up in the guilt and shame. And then if it is found out for some reason (other than the husband confessing it, that is), you can be sure that all the pain he hoped to keep hidden from her will be multiplied, and the seemingly noble act of wanting to spare his wife pain will be recognized as being something else.

Maybe he reasons that because God has already forgiven him, he doesn't need to tell her, but then why is he still going through so much shame and guilt? Maybe his wife wouldn't take it well, maybe she would leave, but in the end, I don't think he is actually sparing his wife the pain he thinks he is. Nor is he allowing for the working of God in bringing about a real sense of forgiveness.

Jim

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