15 March, 2011

Seeking Him, Lesson 8: Clear Conscience ~ Dealing with our Offenses toward Others

Submitted by Leah Page on Tue, 03/15/2011 - 7:58pm humilityPoor in SpiritRepentanceSH011

SEE PREVIOUS ENTRY for the "INTRO" example used - an outward "STINK" as evidence of an inward "ROT".....

The first seven lessons focused primarily on experiencing revival in our hearts and lives as it pertains to our relationship to God. As Nancy put it in our study, the "vertical" aspect. With chapter 8, we turned more to the practical outworking of these truths, of God's reviving our hearts, as it pertains to our relationships with other people.

"When our conscience is clear, we have nothing to be ashamed of."

We have talked about how one of our first reactions when we sin is to hide, or to point fingers to deflect the blame from ourselves. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, demonstrated this in the Garden - they were ASHAMED because of their nakedness, a consequence of their sin. They were vulnerable before God, and with each other.

Sin breaks relationship. It breaks our relationship with God, and it has the same effect in our relationships with each other.

"Having a clear conscience means there is no obstruction in our fellowship with God or anyone else. It means we are careful to avoid sinning against God or others with our words, actions, or attitudes. It also means that when we do sin, we quickly repent, admit our failure to all offended parties, ask their forgiveness, and make whatever restitution is necessary." ~NLDeMoss (p. 149)

Above the Level of Reproach
We looked at the example of Samuel from 1 Samuel 12:1-4 - he stood before the people and welcomed their feedback - he did not, himself, know of any offenses of which he had not been repentant, but he opened the floor for the people of the nation to expose any of his offenses, and their response was that they found him to have lived, in effect, "above the level of reproach"! (see 1 Timothy 3:2)

How would we need to live - to what degree must we always be repenting, always open to correction - if we were to make every effort to live in relationship with other people without any unconfessed sin between us?

We also looked at Matthew 25:37-40, 45 and Acts 9:1-5 together. (see day 3 in your books)

Not only does Jesus identify himself with the church body - to the degree that in Acts he confronts Saul with persecuting HIM because of his breathing threats and murder against the disciples of Jesus. But we see that Jesus measures our actions against "the least of these" - receiving our treatment of others as if we were doing unto HIM.

So - instead of asking, perhaps, WWJD, as if I were standing in Jesus' shoes trying to decide how to behave in this or that situation. What if, instead, I were to see YOU as "in Jesus' shoes" - What If You Were Jesus - how would I treat you? Would I respond to you any differently? How would I seek to serve you? How would I desire your good, and not my own?

How would I worship Jesus in the way that I am treating others?

Don't give the Devil a Foothold
We also looked at Matthew 5:23-24 - how the Lord instructs us to even STOP, to interrupt our service or worship to the Lord if necessary, if we remember that someone has something against us - so seriously does he take our reconcilliation with one another!

See also Ephesians 4:25-28 - Why are we not to let the sun go down on our anger? It is like we saw above - that sin puts a wedge in relationship - it is just enough space for the Devil to get a foothold! And he loves to divide us! To break our trust in one another! To add to our shame, and to break and tear asunder what God has put together! So - we must MAKE HASTE! BE QUICK! Go, as soon as the Lord convicts you, GO, and make things right with your sister or your brother or your husband or your children or your pastor or your friend or your boss or your coworker.

Confession requires humility, and it requires a measure of discernment - reconciliation does not require the exposing of every gawdy detail of your offense. But it does require honesty and a spirit of repentance - in your heart, both desiring and committing to never do thus and such again.

But think of the freedom!! If you have already acknowledged your need for forgiveness - and you have made your confession, you have willingly and even with great zeal embraced the humility that the Lord has granted, what more can the enemy do to you at this point!? You have been on the brink, perhaps, of a word of condemnation, but you have confessed, you have exposed your own shame and relenquished it! The enemy no longer has a hold on you - he can no longer wield this condemnation over your head! MAKE HASTE TO MAKE RIGHT!!

Progression: Private --> Personal --> Public
And lastly, we looked at how to practically apply the steps of seeking forgiveness. The goal of confession is not only our own holiness and freedom, but ultimately the reconciliation of the relationship, if possible and appropriate.

But we must be wise and discerning - reconciliation is not always possible or appropriate.

First, review the matter with the Lord - PRIVATELY - one on one, confess your sin to God. ASK him to show you what you must do. If your sin is against God and against God only, you may not need to go and seek forgiveness from another. If your sin is against another individual, after you have addressed the matter prayerfully and allowed the Lord to search your heart, go - PERSONALLY - to the one you have offended, and do not merely say you are sorry, do not merely apologize, ASK for forgiveness. This requires more from the other person than merely hearing you out - and is necessary for reconciliation. It also requires more from YOU than just an acknowledgement that the other person has been offended. To ask for forgiveness requires you to submit to the other person's response, to humble yourself before the Lord and before the other person. Finally, if your sin is an offense against a greater number, again using wisdom and discretion, the situation may require you to make a - PUBLIC - confession, and seek forgiveness from the whole body (by which I mean any plurality of persons, not necessarily the whole church, unless it is a sin which has affected the whole church).

Pages 157 thru 164 gave some VERY good and helpful, practical steps and advice as to how to proceed, what to be mindful of in the going, etc. If you are in doubt, it may be wise to seek biblical counsel.

Quickly Repent
To All Offended Parties
Ask for Forgiveness
Make Restitution

Keeping in mind ~ we, none of us!, "deserve" forgiveness. We are confessing that we have wrong another, and asking of that person, "Would you have mercy on me as GOD has had mercy on me?"

Next Lesson: FORGIVENESS ~ Dealing with Others' Offenses against Us

SH011, Lesson 8: Clear Conscience - INTRO

Submitted by Leah Page on Mon, 03/07/2011 - 3:50pm Lysa TerKeurstSH011

INTRO taken from Lysa TerKeurst's (author of "Made to Crave") blog entry for 3/2/11:


Last week I got all twisted up and bent out of shape. And honey, everyone in my house knew mama wasn’t happy. I tried everything to usher gentleness back into my tone and my temper.

I quoted verses.
I rebuked Satan.
I bossed my feelings around with truth.
I even tried to take a nap.
But none of these activities soothed me.
Another of my people had done something crazy that ushered a smell into my home that not even 3 Yankee candles would mask.
And I am super sensitive to smells. Like hyper crazy sensitive.

I had already dealt with the melted microwave smell and the little prizes from an untrained puppy smell. Now, there was this third mysterious, awful smell wafting through my home assaulting my nasal passages. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was or where it was coming from.

I lit candles, I sprayed stuff, I even covered my nose with the edge of my shirt… but I still smelled it.

Finally, I realized my daughter had pulled out a bathroom trashcan with a flip up lid into the middle of my bedroom floor. She propped the lid open so she could throw away scraps of paper as she worked on a school project. Something had obviously been thrown away in that forgotten trashcan that was way past gross and into the final stages of rot.

Or, something had crawled up into that can and died.
I didn’t have the heart to find out what it was; I just knew the can had to go. Immediately.
The smell was an outside indication of an internal situation.
And the trashcan wasn’t the only thing that stunk that night. So did my attitude.
My reaction was an outside indication of an internal situation.

The reason I couldn’t be soothed with Scripture verses, bossing my feelings, rebuking Satan or even a nap is because God wanted me to be aware of my stink… something inside of me that was gross… a place starting to rot.

He didn’t want me to temporarily mask the situation by feeling better in the moment.
He wanted me to address the root of my rot.

God wanted me to see it- admit it- expose it- bring it out- let Him clean it up and shut it down. Immediately.

A little rot can spread fast and furious if not dealt with swiftly and seriously.

That’s why it’s so crucial to pay attention to our reactions today. How we react is such a crucial gauge on what’s really going on inside us. When people or issues or situations bump into our happy it’s not wrong to feel annoyed. But if that annoyance leads to a reaction out of proportion to the issue at hand… we can bank on the fact this eruption has a root of rot.

Here are some tell tale signs of roots of rot:

* I throw out statements like, “You always… You never… Why can’t we ever…”
* I start gathering ammunition from past situations to build my case.
* I use words and a tone outside my normal character.
* I justify my reaction by illuminating how hard my life is right now.
* I demand an apology all the while knowing I should be giving one.

These are not fun to admit, but here’s the beauty of the situation. The quicker we see a root of rot, the quicker we can get rid of the stink and move forward.

I’m challenging myself to keep a pulse on my level of spiritual maturity right now, not on how many Bible verses I’ve memorized or how many times I’ve done my quiet time this week. Rather, how I’m reacting… how quickly I’m apologizing… and how readily I admit and take ownership of my own stink.