I have been challenged anew with areas that stem from my heart idols…to crucify them and leave them on the cross where they were already paid for over 2000 years ago!
That was where Jesus paid for my love of praise, my fear of people and what they will think of me, my fear of failure, and my love of comfort and ease…to name a few.
Identifying idols is an early step in repentance. This is a large part of unmasking. Then, we must name the sin. We can’t call it by some sweet or cute name or politically acceptable title like “feeling a little anxious” or “getting a little upset with my spouse/kids” or even that wonderfully self-righteous “needing to spend more time in the WORD”, even though that might be true.
We certainly can’t call it something like “my spouse/kids did x and pushed me over the edge”, or “my pastor/church leaders have really done it this time! I’m never going back to that church again!” or…add whatever it is that you want to, to this list.
This is not unmasking an idol or being honest about sin. With the last two examples, a truer way of saying it would be, “This morning when my wife asked me for help with the baby, I was totally selfish, wanted my own comfort and what did I do? I lost my temper at her. Her simple request for help, showed me up for being the selfish person I am. Here she was, up most of the night with the baby and I couldn’t sacrifice a little sleep for her! I need to face up to the fact that I am selfish and consumed with my desires and not the needs of the people I say I love most.” (some of the details may be different, but I think you get the picture.)
The other example would be better stated something like this: I have been avoiding my pastor/church leaders for weeks because I have had disagreements with them and was not willing to man/woman up and talk to them. I tend to avoid confrontation because I would rather sit and hold a grudge…feeding anger and resentment. (or maybe I’m self-righteous and don’t want to admit to the darkness of my own heart/mind.)
Once again they have made a decision I don’t understand or like. I don’t want to take the time to work on my relationship with them. I don’t want to understand what they are doing, or why, because I don’t know how to deal with relationships where I don’t agree.
I would rather just walk away than do the hard work of dealing with this relationship. I would rather think of my self as being right than have to deal with them and face the fact that I don’t have all the information they do. I don’t have their perspective. But GOD has called me here and wants me to do the hard work of building the relationship with these church leaders as part of my growth in grace.
Obviously, the details for you may be different, but in true repentance, we must unmask the sin all the way to the root! Then label it with the real label, not the pretty one. In the process, we will lose it…many times, but in the process of “losing it” we will notice and with the help of those who love us and the Holy Spirit, diagnose where those idols are.
CRUCIFYING THE FLESH
The next part of of repentance is Crucifying the flesh. Identifying our sin as part of the unmasking…and calling it what it really is, is difficult, no question. But moving on to crucify it. Now we are getting downright ugly!
I was reminded today of the promise in Romans 8:1 that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” That is true only because of the cross! Christ paid for our sin. But in the everyday of gaining victory over it, we must be brutal in dealing with it.
That is all part of repenting. Obviously we don’t do all of this in steps as I have outlined, per se. But we divide it up into “steps” so we understand the parts that are involved in repenting. Writing this series has been helpful for me. This is not my strong area. Humility, crucifixion, death, even change, when it’s the kind I didn’t choose…none of these come easily or happily to me. I suspect that they are difficult for you as well.
In the past, I lived in guilt almost as penance, once I identified the sin that needed to be repented of. During that time, it was often miserable for the people who lived around me. I was gloomy and depressed and focused on myself and poor me, why was I so awful? Ugh! The more I read about repentance, the less that looked like Biblical repentance.
I think of it more now as being more like surgery in the sense that you have a tumor that will kill you if it isn’t taken out. When the doctor gives the news, he isn’t mad at you. He is matter of fact as he states the facts of the disease and what will happen if it isn’t dealt with. While it’s true, you can choose whether to do it or not, you can’t usually choose whether to ignore his advice and stay healthy or ignore it and be ill or even die. Most of the time, if he says the tumor will kill you if not taken out, that is what happens eventually.
A life of repentance is one that leads to joy, peace, contentment, forgiveness…and change! GOD will change us according to His plan. We’ll talk more next time about the other side of repentance. That is FAITH. It takes both to live the Christian life.
Ponder on this. It represents a few years of learning and work GOD has been doing on me.
Where do you need help?
What resources do you need?
Have you thought to ask a local friend to pray with/for you? Have you considered asking a friend from church, maybe in a different age group, to be a prayer partner where you can meet regularly to pray and talk about topics like this? I recommend someone near you because that is how you get to know people in your church at a deeper level…one at a time. Yes, you will have to learn to be vulnerable.