Since July 4 is just next week and the country turns its head toward freedom and independence, I found this brief video to remind us of our only way to find true freedom.
I have always heard the phrase, “Confession is good for the soul.” In my case, I suppose it was in the context of my parents knowing what I did anyway so I might as well fess up. The “good for the soul” part might have come from the Catholic church where one of the seven sacraments is confession, but my confession was good for my back end.
What I want to address today is confession and how it relates to our marriage. The Bible talks about confession quite a lot, for instance James write:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16)
Consider for a moment the last time you hurt your wife. An unkind word, impatient gesture, or a harsh tone from you that did some damage. Something in the last day or so will do just fine. Let’s assume for a moment that you have not resolved that offense. What would be easier to do?
- Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? Well, I’m sorry.”
- Go to your wife and say, “You know when I said or did that thing that hurt you? I was wrong, will you forgive me?”
Granted, we may have to admit that we would find either statement hard to say, but if we want to promote a healthy relationship, does it make a difference how we “confess our sins to each other?”
Most people find it much easier to say, “I’m sorry,” than to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” Why is that? Are they interchangeable expressions, or do they approach an offended person with very different messages? Consider for a moment that the first is actually a non-confessional statement quite capable of causing further offense, while the second is an example of genuine confession.
“I’m sorry” states a feeling but gives the other person no opportunity to respond. It’s not much more that a vague report of being uncomfortable. It doesn’t really take responsibility or accept the vulnerability of confession. It’s not even clear: Am I sorry you got hurt or sorry that I hurt you? The phrase, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t risk having the other person say, “I don’t forgive you.” That’s why we say, “I’m sorry”–because we’re really not.
“I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” is scary, because:
- It lets down our defenses.
- It gives your wife a clear opportunity to retaliate.
- It forces us to reverse positions, and we might get hurt.
- It allows the depth of the offense to become clear, perhaps your wife isn’t ready to forgive.
“I’m sorry” doesn’t ask for forgiveness, but “Will you forgive me” recognizes that forgiveness isn’t something we can take for granted.
Application: So, do you want to be healed? Do you want your marriage healed? Are you willing to take the risk of becoming vulnerable in order to visualize God design for your marriage? What do you need to do TODAY as far as confession? Is there repentance that needs to take place? How many bridges have you burned? Too many? Did you violate a trust or do you leave your underwear on the floor all the time? Confession and repentance is the key with our relationship with God, think about how that works with your wife, too.
The statement above says, “When confession is a good thing.” I dare say it is always the best policy; from the heart and done quickly. Don’t allow anger and bitterness to build up.
Hey, take a look at this testimony of Joel and Susan. Well worth your time to see this.
The first step after knowing God’s will is to discover our motivation for doing God’s will. Much of this outline comes from Thomas Merton’s classic, No Man is an Island, and then I have elaborated on his thoughts. *
- I have an instinct that tells me that I am less free when I am living for myself. Living for self is really a basic natural function. In a way, living for my self is not freedom, because I am a slave to the old selfish nature.
- My freedom is only freedom when it is brought into the right relation with the freedom of others. This is the essence of community, all members exercising freedom of self-sacrifice on behalf of others. If one fails to be in relation to others, we are not able to exercise the freedom to choose to follow a cause higher than our own natural instincts.
- I don’t find in myself the power to be happy merely by doing what I like. There is joy in being in relationship with others and seeking to look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
- To give my freedom blindly to an equal or inferior is to degrade myself and throw away my freedom, I can only become perfectly free by serving the will of God. God calls us to a higher purpose, which adds meaning to our existence. Serving ourselves is not freedom because it is evidence that we are slaves to instinct.
- Obedience to man has no meaning unless it is primarily obedience to God. As believers, we do all as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 10:31). As we understand the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) we are to first love God and then love others.
- Conscience is the soul of freedom.
- A rational being who does not know what to do with himself finds the tedium of life unbearable. He is literally bored to death. Life outside of a relationship with Christ brings no purpose of higher meaning. Life is hard, and if there is no call toward a higher life, there is hopelessness and despair.
- I cannot make good choices unless I develop a mature conscience that gives me an accurate account of my motives, my intentions and my moral acts. It is not enough to just do the right stuff or believe the right stuff; the motivation behind our actions is of great interest to God and our true selves.
- We must have right purposes: conscience is the light by which we interpret the will of God in our own lives.
- Our happiness consists in doing the will of God. It makes sense that if we resists the will of God and we know it, we find ourselves feeling guilty that we knowingly disobeyed God’s will.
- The essence of this happiness does not lie in the agreement of wills, it consists in union with God.
- The union of wills which makes us happy in God must ultimately be something deeper than just an agreement. We must develop conviction.
- God’s will is more than a concept–it is a reality, a secret power which is given to us, from moment to moment to be the life of our life.
- It is not an abstraction.
- It is not a static center drawing our souls blindly to it
- We find ourselves in relationship with the Creator and His purpose and desire transcends our being.
- The will of God is the movement of His love and wisdom ordering and governing all free and necessary agents.
- Ponder this: Shall I be content to do God’s will for my own advantage? This is the essence of being obedient because of what I get out of it.
- Our intentions are pure when we identify our advantage with God’s glory. Receiving a blessing for obedience is different from doing something expecting a blessing.
- In order to make our intentions pure, we do not give up the idea of seeking our own good, we simply seek it where it can be found–in a good that is beyond ourselves.
- Question: what is an impure intention?
- One that yields to the will of God while retaining a preference for my own will. I still do this out of selfishness.
- This drives my will from His will, since I am not losing myself in the pure intention of following God alone because He deserves it and it is the right thing to do.
- It doubts in theory that God wills that which is generally best for me. Do we really believe that all God asks and wills is for my best interest? If we doubt it, we are not able to act on God’s will without reservation.
- To this man, the will of God becomes rich when it is pleasing to him, poorer when it offers less immediate satisfaction.
- Question: who is this man of impure intentions?
- Is hesitant and blind.
- Is always caught between two conflicting wills.
- Cannot make simple and clear-cut decisions.
- Has twice as much to think about: worrying about God’s will and his own at the same time.
- Is deceiving himself.
- Blinded by his own selfishness.
- Plunged into a confusion of doubtful choices, endless possibilities.
- Sanctity consists not in merely doing God’s will, but in willing God’s will. Obedience without pure intention is not attractive.
- It is not always necessary to find out what God’s will is in order to do it. Often times we know what His will is, the question is whether we embrace His will over our own.
- But if we are to will what He wills, we must begin to know something about what He wills. Study of God’s Word is helpful.
- How can I find out what is the will of God for my life?
- Before He wills me to do anything, He first wills me to be. This is a key concept in having a dynamic relationship with Christ. We are to be with him (Mark 3:14) before we are to do things for Him.
- What I do depends upon what I am (gifts of the Spirit).
- It is His will that we not only live as rational beings, but as new men regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
- Seek Him where He is to be found: His Church, His Word (john 14:26).
- When we speak of God’s will, usually we are speaking of some recognizable sign of His will.
- It is one thing to see a sign, it is another to interpret it correctly.
- The vision of the prophets: being alive to the divine light concealed in things and events, they saw glimpses of the light where other men saw nothing but ordinary happenings.
- Signs show us the road, but only a few paces, as a lamp lights only the steps in front of our feet.
- If I am to know God’s will, I must have the right attitude toward life, to know what my life is and to know the purpose for my existence. Many people are simply clueless about the purpose of life and the mission of God in the world.
- His will for me points to one thing: the realization, discovery and fulfillment of my true self in Christ (in order to save my life I must lose it, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24).
- I cannot work out God’s will for my life unless I am consciously helping other men find God’s will in theirs. Here again is the idea of community.
- His will is our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3), our transformation in Christ (Romans 12:2), our deeper integration with other men (Hebrews 10:25).
- The book is called, No Man is an Island: we need others that God has also regenerated.
- Remember: we must will the will of God, not simply do it. This is a lot of work, it is easier to just do something than it is to make such an effort to be something or to will something.
- So, we must know what it is that He wills.
- We must will His will because we love it.
- It is better to say “no” and then go, than to say “yes” and not obey (Matthew 21:28-31, which did the will of his father?).
- Right vs. simple intention.
- Right intention is pure: attention is placed upon the work to be done, then we rest in the accomplishment and hope in reward.
- Simple intention: we are less occupied with the thing to be done, we are more aware of the One who works in us.
- The man of simple intention works in the atmosphere of prayer.
- Simple intention is a rare gift from God.
- Rare because it is poor.
- It seeks nothing but the supreme poverty of having nothing but God.
- With right intention, you risk losing the fruit of your work.
- With simple intention, you renounce the fruit before you begin and you don’t expect it.
* Thomas Merton was a contemplative monk, who on December 10th, 1941 entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order. While on a trip to a monastic East-West dialogue conference in Thailand, Merton died in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, the victim of an accidental electrocution. The date marked the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance to Gethsemani. The monastery is located near Bardstown Kentucky, not far from Louisville, where I went to seminary.
Here is a post from Craig Gross, the founder and president of xxxChurch, which is too good to not pass on. He attributes this information to Jay Dennis:
26 Destructive Consequences Porn Viewing Has on a Man:
The following destructive consequences are the result of a Christian man viewing pornography. The A to Z format covers the wide range of negative results that porn has on a man who is a follower of Jesus.
Alienates You from God. You no longer feel close to God. You don’t experience the power of God. You no longer have the joy of your salvation.
Blinds You to the Consequences. It temporarily turns off your walk with God, your relationships with your wife, your children, and others. It blinds you to what is going to happen to you spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, vocationally, and relationally.
Creates Unrealistic Expectations. Men begin to think this is what every woman should look like and that this is what your relationships with your wife is to be like.
Distorts Your View of Sex. It makes you believe that sex is solely for the pleasure of a man and that women are simply objects to be used rather than God’s creations to be honored and respected.
Enough is Never Enough. Pornography has an escalating effect. Like a drug you need more and more to satisfy the lust. It takes you further down a destructive path and further away from peace, joy, and healthy relationships.
Freedom Over What You Think and Do is Lost. You become enslaved to your sinful thoughts which lead to sinful actions.
Guilt Comes Upon You After You Look at Porn, but the guilt is not enough to prevent you from doing it the next time.
Healthy Sexuality is Numbed Through Porn. Healthy sex is married sex only that includes regular sex, unselfish sex, and loving sex.
Isolates You, and makes you feel you are all alone and are the only one who struggles with porn and lust.
Jeopardizes Your Relationship With Your Wife or Future Wife (if you are single), your witness for Jesus Christ, and everything in your life that is important to you. You put it all on the line for pornography.
Keeps You In a Cycle Of Self Destructive Behavior. It may appear to medicate the pain in your life, but it only adds to the pain with more pain. Porn leads you to do things you never thought you would do. Sin will take you further than you want to go. It will keep you longer than you want to stay. And it will cost you more than you want to pay (Unknown Author).
Lust—Sexual Sinful Lust—Leads to Sexual Sinful Actions. Porn put in your mind is like putting fuel on the fire of wrong sexual desire resulting in destructive thoughts and actions.
Masks The Real Wound, that you are seeking to heal and makes things worse.
Never a Neutral Experience. You cannot look at porn and not be affected by it. That experience is always inconsistent with God’s Word.
Objectifies Women. It makes them a sexual object. Porn hijacks a man’s ability to see an older woman as a mother figure, a same-aged woman as a sister figure, and a younger woman as a daughter figure.
Porn Initially Brings a Very Short-Lived Pleasure, followed by pain and more pain.
Quitting Becomes the Struggle of a Lifetime. Once you allow porn in, there is a raging battle with Satan and your old nature to keep looking. Once you have allowed porn into your life, there will always be a battle. It is a winnable battle, but a daily battle.
Remains Imbedded in Your Mind Forever. Satan uses that image to replay in your mind to create a cycle of sinful lust again and to drive you back to looking at porn. You become bound to an image and a not a person.
Shame Enters Your Life. Guilt is feeling badly for something you have done, shame, however, is based on feeling badly about who you are. Pornography brings shame. God never brings shame. Satan always brings shame.
Trust Is Broken With, the people you love and respect the most.
Unlocks the Door to Every Sexual Sin. Porn is a portal, a gateway that leads to nothing good and everything painful such as compulsive masturbation, affairs, dangerous sexual practices, visiting adult-oriented businesses, paying for sex, perverted sexual practices and sexual abuse.
Violates Women. How? You are putting your stamp of approval on an industry that degrades and dehumanizes women.
Wandering Eyes Toward Other Women are Invited .
Xtinguishes Truth. Pornography promotes lying. You lie to others, you lie to God, and you lie to yourself. You lie more to cover up past lies. You become a living lie.
Yokes You to an Image. You become bound and attached to the image instead of your wife or future wife if you are single.
Zips Your Lips to Praising God, speaking about your faith, and telling others how they can experience God.
In Mark 5, we are told a story about a man living among the tombs, with an unclean spirit (Mark 5:2). He was a danger to himself and others, no one could bind him (Mark 5:3). No one was able to subdue him or bring him under control (Mark 5:4). He was day and night in the tombs, constantly crying out and gashing himself Mark 5:5). This guy was in a mess. No one cared about him; just chain him up somewhere out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.
When you really think about it, we are not much different. We are all bound by something that’s killing us. We drink too much, smoke too much, eat too much, play to much, are entertained too much… name your vice. Men today have all the toys they can afford (and lot of stuff they can’t afford) and often play games with their lives and families. I’m convinced that countless men today are living in the “tombs” and need to be set free. I’m talking about living in an inner world that leads to death; the world that is just behind the mask that we put on.
You can kill a person with your words, your attitude, and even your absence. You can kill a relationship without any other weapon than your mouth. You can destroy it without exploding a bomb; you can destroy relationships by neglect.
If we are a people living among the tombs, then we are surrounded by death, and much of it is death that we have inflicted upon ourselves (Mark 5:5). We have made poor choices and have not invested our time into our families. We have pulled back from our wives and sought for intimacy online. We have gotten into the habit of gambling, or drinking, or pornography, or spending… thinking these are what real life is all about.
How many women are in counseling offices every week because of what husbands have said or something they did; broken promises, betrayed trust, devastated dreams, broken lives?
- How many men do you know who are out of control?
- How many chains have you broken (Mark 5:4)?
- How many people are bleeding from wounds that you inflicted?
- How many of your children are going to need serious pastoral counseling?
- How many people are suicidal or messed up in their minds because of the lies you told?
- How much death and destruction have you caused in your own life?
- What tombs are you living in?
- What steps can you take to make things right?
- Commitments with which are you finally going to follow through?
The only way to combat death is to bring something back to life; resurrection. Just as it happened with Jesus, it can happen with every area in your life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In Christ we can have the life Jesus promised (John 10:10). Trust Him to bring you back under control and restore your life, your family, your kids, your marriage.