Thursday, December 11, 2014
A criticism is often cast towards “people in the church” for being phony, putting on a good front, and lacking honesty about and acknowledgement of their faults and shortcomings. However, it has been my experience that, among true Christians who have fully submitted to Christ not only as their Savior but as their Lord also, honesty and openness about their sin has never been a problem. I have found that, among trusted Christians with whom I have established a relationship, I can freely and safely be “authentic” in my personal battle with sin. For this, I am exceedingly grateful.
However, I have noticed that too much of a dependence on “authenticity” can sometimes lead to excusing ourselves, without even realizing it, to an ongoing life of known sin. If we establish our Christian life as one of readily confessing our failures and how we’ve fallen short in our relationships, that can become, in essence, our Christian walk. We excel in sharing, commiserating and “loving on” ourselves and others through our brokenness.
But sometimes all of this openness and ready admission becomes an end in itself. We are living the “authentic” Christian life, we say. We are poster children for admitting we’re not perfect. We are making it safe for others to be “authentically imperfect” as well. And we live in this cycle, with the confession being the beginning and middle point, with no intentional end in sight for the particular sin we are confessing. In effect, we have over-corrected. We don’t like the formality and superficiality of what we see elsewhere, so we emphasize our fallen-ness to a fault.
But being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about leaving our life of sin once we are made aware of it (John 8:11), not wallowing in it. Being a disciple means discipling (not enabling) others. One of the last instructions given by Jesus is to go and make disciples and teach them to obey His commands (Matthew 28:19-20). Being discipled and discipling others does involve honesty and authenticity about our sin. But it also involves honesty and authenticity about overcoming sin. Authenticity includes improvement in our relationships, full recovery from addictions, an end to particular sin, increasing spiritual maturity, and a willingness to rejoice in and share these victories and not feel guilty or “inauthentic” for doing so.
When letting our hair down takes precedence over actually doing something about our sin, when reliance on our fallenness supersedes a reliance on victory in Christ, when our Christian faith becomes nothing more than a share group for our shortcomings, we have indeed fallen short.
We are sinners justified freely by grace; this is true (Romans 3:23-24). But we are also children of God whom Jesus commanded to leave our lives of sin (John 8:11). This does not mean we will become sinless. It means that, along with commiserating about our ongoing brokenness, we rejoice in our ongoing being made whole in Christ.
Our drive to be "authentic" with others must never become an idol that comes before God. It must not be more about ourselves and our sin nature than about Jesus Christ and freedom in Him.
copyright Barb Harwood
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” John 8:34-36
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:1-23
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:13-14