October 1, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XIV: Honest Self-Examination

Do Not Trivialize Sins...Itemize Them

"God forgive me my sins..."

I never ever ask God to forgive my sins this way. Even though Jesus said a prayer this way...well...in case no one noticed...I ain't Jesus (duhhh). For me to deal with my sin like this is no different that treating all crimes in soceity the same from jaywalking to murder. My sins are explicitly name as I can remember them. I do this so I recognize them for what they are--shots at a target of holiness that I missed so I can avoid missing the mark in the future. I am no fool, I know that every single sin seperates me from my God and is an affront and offense to Him. I never try to downplay the severity of my wrongdoing. If I do not name the sin it lessens the seriousness of the offense. Out of sight-out of mind. I only go to generalized requests of forgiveness for the sins of omission and for those sins I am completely blind to. In those situations I ask God to make them evident to me because I realize some of the hidden ones wreak the most havoc in life at times. God numbers my sin and knows them all...so should I...and ask God to forgive them, each and everyone by name. No matter how hard I try though, if I do not call on God to show me the depth and depravity of my sin I may never see them as they properly need to be seen, as I see the world (myself included) through a distorted sin-twisting lens.

An Inability To Forgive Myself

My bible tells me that is a person is truly contrite and repent of their sins and seek forgiveness from God are then forgiven. If Someone/Something awesome, powerful and just as God has forgiven me I need to forgive myself. There are no excuses for carrying guilt after God has forgiven us. If we don’t do this we sin against God as we in and of ourselves carry a burden God has released us from. To not forgive ourselves is to basically say that we do not trust God to wipe clean our slate. As I understand God, He gives a second, third, fourth, fifth….chances if you truly repent in your heart. Knowing this I will do the best I can to forgive myself of things that haunt me that I have traditionally had trouble tossing into the past and leaving it there.

The Joy of Forgiveness

I have successfully found joy in forgiveness in situations where I also forgave myself. Where I managed to overcome a particular sin that the Lord had made me quite aware of (acutely so) and gain victory over it through Him. The one that really stands out for me is materialism and superfluous spending in an attempt to stay on par with the image of others and what others had. This one fell by the wayside early in my walk. I knew after having prayed and after having gone to God on this that when it left it was His doing, not mine. Realizing that it is not always me that is doing the work of killing the sin and then having God forgive me for it is spiritually liberating. I can breathe easier knowing He is always willing to not only forgive but help me kill the sin that is causing me to need to repent and seek forgiveness for.

Do I Confess In The Presence of Others?

I rarely do this as to is too akin to confession booths in the Catholic faith and that idea makes me cringe. I should probably stop caring abou this as it has absolutely no bearng who I am as a God obeying Christian and I am allowing something I do not like to dictate what I do like. I will admit my sin as I am convicted by God. Most often to Him though as confessing them to others does nothing to get them forgiven as any person I tell them to have no power to do so. When I have confessed a wrong-doing I have found that another person can always shed light on the situation in a way that helps be attack the sin more effectively.

Which Of My Sins Hurts Others?

Which sin is a bad question. Asking this frames the severity of the issue totally incorrectly. All sins hurt or adversely affect people around me. The idea that some sin/crimes are less than others is flawed logic and trivializing the severity of the sin/crime. In God’s creation there are no victimless sin/crimes. To think there are any harmless sins is dangerous-Dangerous DANGEROUS! It is exactly what the Devil wants you to think. “Oh, it’s just a small thing…no big deal”. How many sins caused humanity to fall? Here is a safe statement to remember concerning sin: "God hates all sin". None are excluded. He is holy and we are not. We always need to seek forgiveness through spiritual self cross-examination to purge it.

[Does anyone else find the picture as disturbing as I do?]

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