February 9, 2011

Confess your sins... so that you may be healed (James 5:16)

Confessing of  sins has been a question for me as well. To how many people? How detailed? What sins? etc.
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (Jm 5:13-16)

James says the aim of confession is forgiveness and health. He doesn't call to deal with sins constantly, but in case of sickness. I think 'sickness' needn't be only bodily problem but also mental, emotional or anything that hinders our relationship with God.

What I've heared and read, it's not healthy to dig in our sins constantly nor remember old forgiven sins and worry again about them. But in some cases, e.g if there are emotional wounds or unconfessed sins from the past, it should be healing to bring these into the light, to give them the right judgement, to forgive to your hurters, to ask and accept forgiveness. When it is cleard up, we shouldn't dig any more.
Well it's more complicated with present repeting sins. I don't have a good answer here.

And even we don't look for sins constantly, it's probably sensible to check from time to time various areas of our lives, if these are ok in front of God.

It's also good to remember that Satan can accuse us without a reason, reminding our past sins and failures, to discourage us. He can also make us restless and feeling guilty without a real sin. He wants us to feel hopeless. When the Holy Spirit convicts us in a sin, it is something specific. He calles us to clear it up with God and find peace.

Justfication and sanctification

Once at a talk about faith and deeds (after the community) I came to conclusion that one can distinguish two terms. All Christians are called saints in the epistles of the NT because we are justified or 'declared righteous' through our initial faith and repentence (change of our minds). On the other hand we still have to become more holy because our sanctification or 'making holy' is a process lasting as long as we live on earth.

 Rev 22:11b "and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be made holy still."(ASV)

One should avoid both extremes:
a) focusing on salvation: I'm saved and forgiven, I cannot loose it, I don't need to worry about my deeds nor spiritual growth.
b) focusing on good deeds so that it becomes base of salvation.

I think we should believe we are accepted by God because He is gracious. We needn't panic about loosing salvation, but anyway to be aware that if we take God too easlily, it may happen.

February 8, 2011

We want you to show this same diligence to the very end

Heb 6:9 "Even though we speak like this, [warn against falling away] dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your casethe things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."

'Convinced of better things', but anyway, salvation seems to be accompanied by works of love. What to do if I think I don't have these enough in my life? Really, not easy. Right now, I don't manage much more than taking care for my little kids, and even this is far from perfect.   I'm not able to add much more deeds to my life, but I can still fight for patience, faith and other good attitudes in everything I do.
2 Pe 1:5-9 "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, loveFor if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."