Orval Hobart Mowrer, noted Psychologist and once president of the American Psychological Association, developed the notion of Integrity Therapy. This therapeutic process derived from Jesus’ suggestion to “do alms in secret”. Mowrer inverted this thought as applied to our misdeeds–our sinning. He stated, “You are your secrets,” or “You are as sick as your secrets.”
Mowrer became convinced that confession of misdeed and wrong-doing among people was significant to personal wellbeing. He went as far to say that mental illnesses, including Schizophrenia, were born of guilt.
Guilt and sin are first cousins as it were. I have guilt because I sin.
WHY THEN CAN I NOT STOP SINNING AND KNOWING GUILT?
ANSWER: Because I keep breathing!
In Christianity, God makes people to become new creations in Christ,
–He removes the obligation we have to sin, not the potential for sinning.
–He removes the penalty of sin, not our propensity to sin.
–He wipes away the condemnation of sin–past–present–future, but not our culpability and need for confession.
–He leaves the bruises and scars of sin, not as guilt-shaming, rather reminders of grace.
–In this life, He intends for us to sin less, not to be sinless.
True children don’t disobey their parents simply because they can. They do so because it is a potential right before them–a potential that is realized when desire overcomes determination to obey and please. So these children disobey and commit actions and harbor attitudes that are contrary to their parents. This makes them no less members of the family. They are merely demonstrating that looking and acting like the family they belong to is a lifelong process. At some point in their lives, being a proper representative of the family will be almost effortless–habitual if you will. But this will take time and cooperative course, consistent with the cause and family values.
Much of why we sin is habitual. I remember when a friend of mine decided to trust Jesus Christ with his life. He prayed to become a follower of Christ—a Christian. His transformation was deep and even radical at a point. It seems his addiction to golf took on a new perspective. Before Christ, he played, you might say, religiously. He spent much of his family budget each month on the game. There were times he couldn’t pay the rent and it was a real problem with his wife and children. Overtime, golf became a sin and addiction. Golf became not just a sin for himself, but everyone else too! The game was evil. All of his friends who continued to play were deemed sinful and wrong for doing so.
Well, he did come to his senses and he is now playing golf again with his buddies, and sees that the game was not to blame; it was the place he had given the sport as an idol in his life. Now Christ is his Idol.
Much of why we continue to sin is cultural. We live in a fallen, sinful world–a world that is most often unashamed of sin. The people of the world actually make sin look fun, healthy, normal and consequence-less. For them it is because they are dead to God. They have no ambition to “act” like something they are not–namely, Christian.
So PLEASE, PLEASE Christians; Stop insisting that non-believers clean up their act and behave themselves. Doing so will not save them or make them acceptable to God as though a prerequisite for acceptance and forgiveness.
“Money paid to workers isn’t a gift. It is something they earn by working. But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do. God accepts sinners only because they have faith in him. In the Scriptures David talks about the blessings that come to people who are acceptable to God, even though they don’t do anything to deserve these blessings.” (Romans 4:4-6)
We are not their judge–God is and he will take care of them. He is long-suffering towards them–as we must be. A true sign that we belong to God is that we love who he loves, care how he cares and that we live out our faith in love. Remember,
“You have to catch the fish before you clean it.”
We continue to sin in ignorance. We fail to realize that we are dead to sin and alive to God. Rom. 6:11 (the exact opposite of a non-believer) It takes time for the Christian to mature to the place where he or she not only hears God within but also acts on His promptings.
We continue in sin because we feed the wrong desires.
“Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.” (James 1:13-15)
“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” (Romans 12:2)
“Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” I John 1:8-10
We continue in sin because we fail to confess. Like Adam and Eve, we run and hide from God instead of going to him in prayer, telling him what he already knows, “I have sinned”. Confession, as broad as the offense, also extends to those whom we have offended or hurt in word or deed. As a child, I remember concealing a wrong from my parents. I felt so guilty that I would hide from them instead of loving them and their company. What a relief when I was finally found out and I confessed to my wrong. They never stopped loving me; it just felt like it on my end. Those who have received Jesus are his child, no matter the feeling. He waits for us to be true and honest with him. You don’t become a Christian all over again. You are a Christian who is becoming more like Jesus.
“When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:3-5
CONFESS TO A FELLOW HUMAN BEING
MY CONFESSION BEING AS BROAD AS THE OFFENCE
It may be a counselor or therapist.
It may be a family member, a minister or true friend.
Confess wrongdoing and secret sin for your own sake and for those to whom you have wronged or offended to their harm. Exposing presumed secret sin frees the soul.
CHRISTIANS MUST CONFESS TO GOD AND STAY CONFESSED-UP
We have no secrets before Him.
If you and I fail to confess personal failure and sin, we can expect to be corrected as proof that we belong to Him. Even after confession, correction is good.
None of you have yet been hurt in your battle against sin. But you have forgotten that the Scriptures say to God’s children,
“When the Lord punishes you, don’t make light of it, and when he corrects you, don’t be discouraged.
The Lord corrects the people he loves and disciplines those he calls his own.”
Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how God treats his children. Don’t all parents correct their children? God corrects all of his children, and if he doesn’t correct you, then you don’t really belong to him. Our earthly fathers correct us, and we still respect them. Isn’t it even better to be given true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us?
Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is. It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace.
Now stand up straight! Stop your knees from shaking and walk a straight path. Then lame people will be healed, instead of getting worse.” Hebrews 12:4-12
Are you worried that you can’t “do it”? Good! Just go ahead and settle it in your heart and soul. YOU CAN’T.
But the good news is that God can, and he will, and he does. Observe the many circumstances you are helpless to change.
“God is working (present-future) in you to make you willing and able to obey him.” (Philippians 2:13)
Your job and mine is to cooperate with God and others in this process, not to pretend to the world we are somehow all strong and sinless.
If your church does not lead you and the congregation into personal and corporate opportunities for confession of sin, then ask them to. If they won’t, find one that will.
Much of Evangelicalism that is shallow and hyper sensational is all about avoiding confession and becoming real disciples who own their sin and deal with it biblically.
Stopping sin is about starting:
No old habit goes away without an acceptable substitute…
1-Start exercising your faith in prayer and dependence upon God. It is a relationship to nurture.
2-Start reading the bible as an act of worship. Keep your bible out where you can see it, open it and give God a place in your heart.
This is how you know the one true God, not a fantasy god of your feelings, presuppositions, rumors and hearsay. (i.e. TV Evangelists)
3-Start doing your faith. Deeds of good works, not to become or remain a Christian–rather because you ARE a Christian. (James 2:14)
4-Start agreeing with God about who you are. You are his child with all its benefits. (I Peter CHAPTER 2)
5-Start running the race before you. “I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep running and struggling to take hold of the prize. (Philippians 3:12-15)
6-Start separating yourselves from this world. Keep yourself in a church fellowship with like-minded, equally imperfect believers.
“Since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are.” (I John 3:1; 2:15-17)
7-Start sharing your faith. “As you go, make disciples”… Busy children are much less likely to get into trouble.
“Dear Lord. So far today, I’ve done alright. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in just a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed. And from then on, I’m going to need a lot more help.”–unknown
Be patient when you are being corrected!
“So PLEASE, PLEASE Christians; Stop insisting that non-believers clean up their act and behave themselves.”
Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Our clean up begins with ourselves and the “house of God”, but it doesn’t end there. If you truly love the laws of the Lord, and the grace of the Lord, you won’t want to see either abused by anyone. I’m not here to give license to the lawlessness of unbelievers, or their sins will be upon me also. I should warn them of impending damnation for their wickedness, and their urgent need to repent. So should you. But it would seem you may have forgotten that.
Sharkly–thanks for your response.
The number ONE religion in this world is the religion that promotes self-effort and good deeds (morality) as justification before God and man.
What if I stop drinking, cussing, carousing, yet still reject Christ as the/my Savior?
What if I give money, volunteer for world-aid, yet deny the Christ who alone can justify me before God?
This is exactly what Paul faced when he said to the Galatians “And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his gift of undeserved grace.” “I don’t turn my back on God’s gift of undeserved grace. If we can be acceptable to God by obeying the Law, it was useless for Christ to die.” (5:17–2:21)
Repentance is from unbelief before it can effect our moral compass within and create repentance unto good works.
“Catch the fish before you clean it”
Fishermen cannot change the nature of the fish, nor are they asked to.
Islam, for example, attempts to force morality upon mankind as if man can be moral with Allah without Christ.
Results demonstrate religious fanaticism but no conversion to Christ as His disciple.
Moral Zealots, still lost and condemned by their sin.
Our Commission to make disciples includes out witness; salt and light, our willingness to go–our willingness to speak.
We introduce others to Christ by our example, His word and in both our love. It is His job alone to save and to change their moral behaviors.
Nowhere did Jesus ask us to do His job in recreation. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Cor. 5:17
You may be affected by my moral behaviors but you certainly are not responsible for them– good or bad.
I know the same is true for me concerning your moral behaviors–good or bad.
If you and I are Christians, it is not because one day God decided that we finally worked hard enough and were good little boys long enough for Him to accept us. If so, Christs’ life and death was unnecessary.
I join with you in prayer for our world, in doing and giving for missions.
Together, the Christ within us will accomplish His purpose.
“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13
Let’s stay busy!
perhaps you are misreading my point. I’m not teaching works based salvation, although faith without works is dead, not legitimate faith if it never affects our actions. What I am saying is there is a call for Christians to be a positive moral influence on their society, and on those they interact with and have influence over.
Islam, for example, attempts to force morality upon mankind …
So does Christian parenting. It is quite normal to force morality on others. The police and IRS do it as a career. It is a morally good thing to turn many to righteousness and God will reward that. Why did God tell Gideon to tear down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah?(Judges 6) Were the idolaters not unbelievers, and did it not interrupt their choice to worship idols there? It is foolishness to say that Christians should not try to be a positive influence on the unsaved even in their unregenerate state. Should we not try to defend the unborn? Should we not have a society that punishes child abuse? If we didn’t force decent behavior on others we would be surrounded by lawlessness, barbarity, cannibalism and every kind of depravity. Our limp wristed failure to hold others responsible as Christians has already allowed our nation to descend into much depravity, can you not see the foolishness of doing nothing about evil, just because forced morality doesn’t save people?
If some unsaved person was about to kill one of your children, would you just stand there and let them, saying “sinners gonna sin”. Or would you try to forcibly prevent them from doing that evil, even though that won’t save them?
I bet you would make an attempt to get them to clean up their act and behave themselves instead of letting them kill your child unhindered. And in the end, that would be a good thing to do. To just stand there and let them murder your innocent, child would be a sin.
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
We as Christians have an obligation to push for righteousness, even among the unsaved, because it is a good thing to do and we know it.
The intent of the blog was to enunciate “Sin” — to assign responsibilities and resolutions. We can certainly drive this vehicle on down the road to cultural applications.
You are absolutely correct in the evolution of moral-societal applications.
We agree that someone’s morality is always being applied and that the best is to enjoy the just laws of our God in Christianity. (as well as the freedoms He affords)
We also mutually watch moral-degradation live on in our Post-Christian country.
As Christianity wanes in our country and churches decline, perhaps God will be gracious to save continually and perhaps my life and yours will be made available towards His purposes and end.
“Can anyone really harm you for being eager to do good deeds? Even if you have to suffer for doing good things, God will bless you. So stop being afraid and don’t worry about what people might do. Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life.
Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope. Give a kind and respectful answer and keep your conscience clear. This way you will make people ashamed for saying bad things about your good conduct as a follower of Christ. You are better off to obey God and suffer for doing right than to suffer for doing wrong.”
I Peter 3:13-17
Thanks again for commenting Sharkly.