I Want To Follow Christ !
“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.”1 John 1:9
Did you ever watch the Discovery Channel TV show, Dirty Jobs, with host Mike Rowe? In episode after episode, Rowe was shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting or messy occupational duties alongside typical employees. Throughout the series, Rowe had such unenviable jobs as Worm Dung Farmer, Roadkill Cleaner, Sewer Inspector, Sludge Cleaner, Cheese Maker, Chimney Sweeper, Avian Vomitologist, Casino Food Recycler, Alpaca Shearer, Monkey Caretaker, Poo Pot Maker, Dairy Cow Midwife, Aerial Tram Greaser, Turkey Inseminator, Sheep Castrator, Maggot Farmer, Toilet Crusher, WOrm Grunter, Mardi Gras Bladder Banger and hundreds more. Fun stuff, right?
What’s the dirtiest job you’ve ever had to do?
Years ago, I had a friend who had his own version of Dirty Jobs. One Summer, he was a Septic Tank Evacuator. His job was to go to homes or businesses his company serviced, hook up a hose to their septic tank, turn on the evacuator motor, and suck all the human waste out of the tank. Some people say their job stinks. His really did! And one day, he carelessly attached the hose to a septic tank without the seal being locked tightly. When he turned on the evacuator motor, human waste sprayed everywhere. He was covered!
Do you think he went to the remaining homes on his list for that day to finish up? No! He went straight home, dumped his stinky, filthy clothes in the washing machine, and put his stinky, filthy body in the shower. He said of that experience, “It never felt so good to be clean!”
As we consider what it means to CLEAN up spiritually after we’ve sinned, we’re finishing up a five part series that has examined some of the basic concepts a new believer must grasp to establish a strong foundation for their new spiritual life. As we disciple them, we want to help them understand their spiritual IDENTITY, learn how to WALK with God, learn how to TALK to God and about God, learn how to FEED themselves spiritually, and learn how to CLEAN up after they make a mess of their life spiritually. Sonlife has developed disciple-making conversation tools for each of these five foundational concepts: IDENTITY, WALK, TALK, FEED, CLEAN. We’ve introduced these basic discipling concepts in our current five week series on disciple-making titled I Want To Follow Christ!
“It never felt so good to be clean!”
That’s what it feels like to be forgiven. We confess our sins, and God promises to make us clean. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU), developed a simple word picture for this. He called it spiritual breathing. Exhale. Inhale. We exhale the poison, carbon dioxide. We inhale life-giving oxygen. It’s part of the regular rhythm of life.
So how do we practice spiritual breathing?
We must see the sin in our own life. We must make a humble acknowledgement of where we have fallen short. We don’t pretend it’s not there. We don’t minimize it. We don’t hide it. We don’t ignore it. We acknowledge it.
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”Psalm 32:3-5
When we see our sin as God sees it, the appropriate response for the believer is to feel remorse for how they have grieved God. Remorsefully, we desire to make things right with God. We want our fellowship with Him to be restored. We confess our sin to God, asking for His forgiveness and restoration. Sometimes, it’s even helpful to include others in your confession, as they can provide encouragement and accountability.
“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.”Psalm 38:18
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”James 5:16
Repentance, simply stated, is changing one’s mind. Having acknowledged and confessed our sin, we now change our mind about our sin. We turn away from it. We choose to love God and not cherish our sin. We grow to despise sin because we love God so much and we know how sin grieves the One we love.
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;”Psalm 66:18
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”Proverbs 28:13
Confession should be a regular practice in our lives. Confession is simply agreeing with God about our sin, admitting we have wronged Him, and asking for His forgiveness. We should keep short accounts with God. Don’t let your sin pile up, carrying around a burden of guilt and shame. As soon as you sin, acknowledge it. Confess it and repent from it. Make it right with God immediately, and keep moving forward in your relationship with Him. Unconfessed sin is one of the main reasons we get stuck spiritually and our relationship with God grows stale.
If we EXHALE when we confess our sins, then how do we spiritually inhale? We inhale by yielding control of our lives back to God.
We yield control of our life back to God. Sin is an act of rebellion against God. It is choosing to be in control of our own life, doing what we want instead of what God wants. We tell God He is our Lord, our King, and He can have His will and His way in our life.
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”Romans 6:12-14
We ask God’s Spirit to fill us. He is our life, and we are dependent upon Him. We cannot live in a manner pleasing to God without the Spirit’s help. As He fills us, He gives us both the desire and the power to please God. We need Him to fill us afresh each and every day, so we come to Him, asking for His infilling power and sustaining grace. As we commune with God by spending time in prayer and the Word, His Spirit fills and empowers us.
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”Romans 8:5-9
As we YIELD control of our life to God’s Spirit, asking Him to FILL us and empower us, we must then WALK in obedience to the Spirit’s leading in our life. Step by step, we follow as God’s Spirit leads us. If we have even the smallest misstep, we should keep short accounts with God and quickly repeat the process. EXHALE… acknowledge, confess, repent. INHALE… yield, fill, walk. Get back on track, stay the course, and keep moving forward as we walk with Jesus.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”Galatians 5:16-18
Jesus never had to exhale. Though He was tempted, just as we are, He never sinned. Jesus did model exhaling though in the sense that He was honest with the Father in His struggles. Think about His intimate, intense moments with the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross. What did He pray?
“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”Matthew 26:39
Though Jesus had no sin to confess, He did acknowledge His struggle. And then He modeled yielding, “Not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus again acknowledged His struggle with the Father as He hung on the cross.
“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ).”Mark 15:34
Jesus modeled what it meant to INHALE on a daily basis. He communed with the Father in prayer. He was dependent upon the Spirit for the leading and empowering He needed to accomplish everything the Father asked of Him.
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”Acts 10:38
For the new believer, it is essential that they learn the simple practice of spiritual breathing. Apart from this, they will live a discouraged, defeated Christian life. They will unnecessarily carry around the weight of guilt and shame. They will try to live the Christian life in their own power rather than depending upon the infilling of God’s Spirit. And they will fail miserably.