Life’s Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups and Their Healing Choices
Subtitle: Confession (Psalm 32:1-5; Romans 3:23-24; James 5:16)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, June 16, 2019
Today is Father’s Day. I am going to talk about the best thing a father can do and that is to man-up. Man-up and be mature in the faith. Man-up and repent of sins. Man-up and take your sins seriously. Man-up and take your hurts, habits and hang-ups seriously.
A trend continues to take place in the online world of anonymity. Several websites offer the opportunity to air one’s darkest confessions. Visitors put into words the very thing they have spent a lifetime wanting no one to know about themselves. While visiting, they can also read the long-hidden confessions of others, and recognize a part of humanity that is often as obscured as their own secrets—namely, I am not the only one with a mask, a conflicted heart, a hidden skeleton. “Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart,” one site reads. “If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.” Elsewhere, one of these sites made news when one of its anonymous users posted a cryptic message seemingly confessing to murder, catching the attention of Chicago Police. Jill Carattini adds: “The invitation to emerge from our darkest failings, lies, and secrets is not an invitation to dwell in our own impoverishment but rather a summons to light, reconciliation, community, and true humanity. The unique message of Jesus is that there is no reason to hide. Before we came up with plans to improve our images or learned to pretend with masks and swap for better identities, he saw who we were and was determined to approach regardless. Before we found a way to conceal our many failings or even weighed the possibilities of unlocking our darkest secrets, God came near and called us out of obscurity by name.” 
Why do we hide?
Why do we hang on to guilt?
How can we recognize we are forgiven and move on?
How do we move on?
Some, correction, all of us are dealing with hurts, habits and hang-ups. Let’s talk about the next step in working through them. Today, we talk about confession. Today, we talk about reflection. Today, we talk about forgiveness.
Today, my theme is:
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, God and someone I trust.
You are completely forgiven, confess, reflect and move forward.
Let’s read Romans 3:23-24:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…
Let’s read Psalm 32:1-5:
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
- God forgives and it is good to be forgiven.
- Look at Psalm 32:1-5.
- This Psalm is usually looked at as a thanksgiving psalm. David is giving thanks for forgiveness. We do not know exactly what the occasion was. It could have to do with the sin with Bathsheba or something else.
- Either way, isn’t it nice to be forgiven?
- Verse 1: how blessed is it to be forgiven?
- Swindoll helps us think this through:
- Do you remember Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”? The main character has committed murder. Unable to escape the lingering guilt of his deed, he begins to hear the heartbeat of the victim he has buried under his floorboards. A cold sweat covers him as the beat-beat-beatgoes on . . . relentlessly. It refuses to go away. Ultimately, it becomes clear that the pounding that drove the man mad was not in the grave down below but the pounding within his own chest. So it is with an unforgiven conscience.
- The ancient songwriter David was no stranger to this maddening malady. As we shall soon discover, the longer he refused to come to terms with the enormity of his grinding guilt, the more he became physically ill and emotionally distraught. Only forgiveness can take away that grind.
- Swindoll believes this Psalm was written after he was forgiven for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12).
- Notice how in verse 1 David says we are blessed when our transgression is forgiven.
- In verse 2, David says we are blessed when God does not impute iniquity.
- Iniquity would mean that we have committed a gross sin. A transgression means to cross a moral or Divine law.
- David uses both terms. Additionally, David uses the generic term for sin.
- David is talking about sin being forgiven, sin being covered and sin not being imputed, or counted, against us.
- David knows what it is like to be forgiven.
- In verse 3, David talks about keeping silent about sin.
- How many of you have lived with unconfessed sin? How was the guilt? Was it like the beating heart in “The Tell-Tale Heart?
- If this was David reflecting on his sin with Bathsheba, he must have known what it was like to have that weight on his shoulders. Do you know what it is like? I bet you do.
- David says, when I kept silent about “my sin.” David says, “my sin.” He owns up to it.
- He says, “his body wasted away.” What an image! It is true though. We all know what stress does to the body. Some eat more, some eat less, some lose sleep, some are anxious.
- Verse 5: David acknowledged his sin. He acknowledged it to God. He says, God forgave him.
- God forgives and He forgives completely. We have talked about that before. We read the passage early, Romans 6:23, justified, freely. That means that we are forgiven completely.
- David repented, David confessed, do you need to confess?
- We need to confess our sin first to God and to others.
- A woman came in to see her pastor and said, “I’m depressed. I’ve been in bed for weeks, and I no longer have the energy to get out of bed and live.” Sensing her deep pain, the pastor asked her, “Is there something in your life you really regret?” She began to pour it out. “Yes. My husband travels. I had an affair and got pregnant and had an abortion. I have never told my husband about it.” The pastor shared God’s promise that no matter how deep the stain of our sins, God can take it out and forgive us. Distressed, she replied, “It just doesn’t seem fair. Somebody’s got to pay for my sin!” “Somebody already has,” the pastor assured her. “His name is Jesus Christ. That’s why He died on the cross. He died for that sin and every other one you’ve committed and confessed and ones you’re going to commit.” She cried and asked, “How do I ask God for His forgiveness?” You may be asking the same question.
- Let’s look at James 5:16: Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
- James shows that communal confession goes along with prayer.
- In Psalm 66:18 the Psalmist writes that if he had cherished sin in his heart the Lord would not hear his prayer.
- I don’t think you must always be concerned about some unconfessed sin that you don’t know about.
- What you must be careful of is repetitive sin. This is sin that you are going through and you cannot conquer. This is sin which you have given into time and time again. We should always confess our sins to God, but we must also confess them to each other.
- This doesn’t mean giving your dirty laundry to the whole church. Who wants to be first we can have an open mic right now. No!
- This does mean having a prayer partner or a group of Christian friends that you can share your struggles with at a specific time and place. There is a time for public confession as well. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that is what James is writing about.
- We need to confess because in confession we clear our minds and hearts.
- We need to confess because in confession we can hear the person we confess to say that we are forgiven, or God forgives you. We need to hear that.
- We need to confess to everyone we have offended in our sin (as far as possible). In some cases that may be a large group of people.
- We need to confess so that we can be held accountable not to continue in that sin.
- This means the person we confess to, or at least one of the people, should say, “You are forgiven, now how do we prevent you from falling into this sin again?”
- We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. Unchecked sin corrupts absolutely. Our sin is contagious, always. It is not secret. If you don’t believe me look how divorce affects children. Be sure your sin will find you out and it does hurt other people (Numbers 32:23).
- I know that some of you need to confess and I urge you to do that. Make it a point to confess the sin today.
- You may have to confess to your spouse that you have looked at pornography.
- You may have to confess to your children that you have treated them badly.
- You may have to confess to your boss that you did something wrong.
- You may have to confess to someone else.
- Don’t ignore the Spirit’s nudging about this. In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus told the people that if they are about to worship God and they realize they have an unresolved issue with someone else, they must resolve that and then come back to worship. In confessing our sin we can truly be spiritually healed and fulfilled.
- Now, this sermon series is about healing from hurts, habits and hang-ups. How do you get that? You only receive healing when you seek help.
- The Bible calls us to confess to God. That is what David did.
- The Bible calls us to confess to each other. That is what James said. That is in the Bible. We cannot ignore it.
- Some of you are dealing with guilt, or anxiety, or fear, or anger or many other things in addition to other hurts, habits and hang-ups. I believe, part of the reason things are so bad is because you are dealing with things on your own. You cannot do that. We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. Let others in.
- Here is a start: take a moral inventory: This is something where you sit down and think about the person, persons, or institutions who have hurt you. Write it down. Then you think of the cause, then the effects, then the damage, and then your part. This is not about blaming. This is about considering and reflecting to know how you got to where you are today.
- Why is it important to do this inventory in writing? Because writing forces you to be specific. Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips to the fingertips. If you don’t put it down in writing, it will remain vague. Just saying, “God, I’ve blown it in life,” is not specific enough. We’ve all blown it. We need to get specific, and we need to write it down.
- When doing this you must:
- Do be radically honest
- Don’t rationalize
- Don’t blame others
- Don’t deceive yourself
- SPECIAL NOTE: If you have been physically or sexually abused as a child or adult, I want you to know that I am sorry that you suffered through that abuse. There is no way I can know the pain it caused you, but I want you to know that I empathize with your hurt. When you start writing down your list of wrongs, simply put the words “NOT GUILTY” for the abuse that was done to you. No part of that sin committed against you was your fault. Renounce the lie that the abuse was your fault. Do take responsibility for how you may have hurt others because of your reactions to your past abuse.
- Think of this like journaling. But that is not all: meet with a prayer partner or Christian mentor, advisor, counselor and go over it. Again, we need to support each other.
- Why can’t we just admit our faults to God?
- Why must another person be involved?
- Because the root of our problems is relational. We lie to each other, deceive each other, and are dishonest with each other. We wear masks and pretend we have it together. We deny our true feelings and play games largely because we believe, “If they really knew the truth about me, they wouldn’t love me.” We become more isolated than ever. We keep all of the junk of our past inside, and we get sick.
- There’s a saying: We are only as sick as our secrets.
- The hurts, hang-ups, and habits that we try to hide end up making us sick, but “revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing.”
- Whom Do You Tell?
- Ask someone you trust
- Ask someone who understands the value of what you’re doing—
- Ask someone who is mature enough not to be shocked—
- Ask someone who knows the Lord well enough to reflect His forgiveness to you.
- Before you say anything, find a place to meet without interruptions
- Be up-front in saying that you need to share your moral inventory
We all need this. One of the greatest things I have done is confessed sin. The Bible tells us to do this. Some of you think confessing to God is enough, but that is not what the Bible teaches. This is Father’s Day, father’s be willing to repent. First to God, then to others who you have hurt. But also to a trusted Christian friend. Be willing to get help to conquer your hurts, habits and hang-ups. You cannot do it alone.
I am here and I want to help all of you. If you want me to help you with a moral inventory, talk with me.
I was in college and my dad and I were in his workshop and he apologized to me for his angry outburst when he was raising us. Praise God for dads who repent.
A long time ago, I faced a pornography problem, was it an addiction? Maybe. Was it a sin, definitely. Did I repent to God? Right away. Did I repent to Meagan? Eventually, but not soon enough. I only got free from that hurt, habit and hang-up when I invited Meagan in and confessed. Do you know how much that weighed on me? It was a heavy weight, but I did not get free until I stopped trying to take care of it by myself.
Seek help. Many of you are dealing with a lot and thinking it is normal Christian living, but it does not have to be.
Let Go video:
 Jill Carattini, “Out of Obscurity,” A Slice of Infinity blog/RZIM Ministries (7-26-17)
I enjoy reading your sermons. I think you have matured in your sermons since Alliance. Keep up the good work.
Thanks and I hope my sermons are always maturing. John Wesley said, “Every ten years I burn my sermons.” God bless