Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Confession

It seems my sinfulness is an interesting object of discussion, although I'm not sure about which sins anyone would like to refer.
Perhaps someone thought my sinfulness would be a surprise to someone, most likely me. Unfortunately, my own sinfulness is more painfully obvious to me than to anyone else.
My heart and life are oftentimes a conflicting, confusing mess of passions: arrogance, lust and hatred. More often than not I not only succumb to the temptation to sin, but I go looking for it. Is anyone surprised by this apparent lack of perfection? Do I pretend like I have attained holiness?
With all that said, I am deeply concerned about my struggle for holiness. I am not flippant about my sins. I repent daily for the things I have done and the things that I have left undone. And the next day, by God's grace, I try harder.
Now, some people's definition of outright sin seems to include things which for most of church history and for most of christendom have been considered matters of conscience that are largely relative based on the person's culture, social norms, and expectations. How can I argue on the basis of my convictions against someone who thinks I have no right to have my own convictions about matters of conscience?
I am not against or resistant to the confrontation of Christian brothers who are living in sin, but I do ask that they follow the pattern set forth in Scripture, and that they are for the purpose of edification for the building up of the body and not for anyone's self-aggrandizement. Even when criticisms don't meet that criteria, I still strive to see the possible truth within the statement and compare it to my life and my understanding of Scripture, as aided in interpretation by the Church.
I will conclude with some readings/prayers which speak to this need for humility in both the confronter and the confrontee:

O Lord and Master of my life,Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair,
lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, meekness
of mind, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea O Lord and King, grant me to
see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art thou unto
ages of ages. Amen.
The Prayer of St. Ephraim of Syria

11Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? ... 13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. 19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 4:11-12, 5:13-20

10"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.[a]
12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
A Brother Who Sins Against You 15"If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be[d]bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.
19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant 21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f]
23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.
29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matt. 18:10-35

5If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

This is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive list of all the Church and the Scriptures have to say which pertains to confronting a brother in sin.

Joel,

I apologize for publishing Ben's comment in my favor, when I knew that his calling you a "jerk" wasn't fair. It's my fault that comment was published, and I apologize.


3 comments:

Heather -- Your awesome sis! said...

Levi, I love you! I will support you and hold you up any time you need. I hope you know this! I will not judge you or your decisions. I will love you unconditionally. thats it. thats all! Loves ya!

KJV said...

We all struggle with sin.

Romans 3:10
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 5:1
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Romans 5:8
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:28
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Philippians 1:6
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Philippians 4:13
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Colossians 3:1-2
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Anonymous said...

I am not a big blog poster but I want to reply to the past few blogs and comments. I have known Levi for years and was one of the men over him when he was the youth pastor at our church. Levi has always had a spirit of submission not only to God's will in his life but to those of us who had authority over him. As an Elder I agree that we have a higher calling to righteousness, this means that we are constantly searching our hearts to have the Holy Spirit show us where we have fallen short or where we need to grow. This is exacly what Levi is doing. Is he perfect? Who is? Santification is the process of God making us more like his Son Jesus. The point is that it is a process that will never be accomplished this side of heaven. Following is a prayer from Beth Moore's "Praying God's Word"
O Lord, your Word says your eyes constantly look for truth. When you chastised the children of Israel, You struck them, but they felt no pain; You crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (Jer 5:3) Lord God, have mercy on me. Help me not to be unresponsive to your correction. You only chastise in love in order to bring me back to the place of safety..... to You, Lord God. Help me not to hide behind lies. When you look for truth, I pray You will find it in me!
I hope we all can pray that we want God to find the truth in us.

Willis