Spiritual Discipline // CONFESSION
By James Gerber
This past Sunday Isaac walked us through four themes that emerge throughout the four gospels accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Today I would like to point our attention toward the theme that emerged from the gospel of Matthew.
In Matthew we see Jesus as a master teacher. In Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Jesus preaches what we call the “Sermon on the Mount.” A manifesto of what it means to truly be human. He instructs us on how we ought to live in order to flourish and paints a picture of what it looks like in his kingdom. As we read the sermon, we quickly see, as Isaac pointed out, how upside-down his kingdom is.
Isaac had this to say on Sunday:
“We flourish despite mourning, when we are poor in spirit, when we hunger and thirst for God’s ways and when we are persecuted for the sake of Jesus. And then we learn that we are called to bless those who persecute us and to love our enemies. We return insults with blessings. We don’t just refrain from murder, but anger too. We don’t commit adultery, but furthermore, we refrain from lustful thoughts. We honor marriage and even choose to not remarry after a divorce.”
So much of what Jesus has to say is counter to our own instincts. But, the call of every follower of Jesus is to submit to our Rabbi and learn from him. (After all, disciple means learner). He invited us to lay down the heavy burden of having to live our lives the way we want, and to take on the easy yoke of following him and all of his ways. (See Matthew 11:28-30)
At the close of his sermon on the mount teaching Jesus says this:
24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
This statement by Jesus creates a number of questions for the reader.
Am I really putting Jesus’ teachings into practice, or am I living my own way? Is my life built on the firm foundation of Jesus? Are there any areas of my life that are built on sand? Am I wise or am I a fool? Do I REALLY trust Jesus and believe he knows what’s best for me?
- The practice of confession: Scan through (or read slowly if you have time) the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6, & 7. As you come to a teaching of Jesus that is hard to accept, or you have been living contrary to, confess it to the Lord. Simply tell the Lord that you are having a hard time believing or living out what he has called you to.
- Repent & ask for forgiveness: To repent is to change your mind and the direction you are going. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Take a moment to tell the Lord that you have sinned against him, that you have been wrong in what you have thought and what you have done. Tell him that you no longer want to be the lord of our own life, but you want him to be Lord.
- Ask for help: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” These were the words of a father who was desperate for Jesus to heal his son in Mark 9; and they seem like an appropriate prayer for us as we wrestle with entrusting Jesus with more of our lives. Confess to the Lord again and pray that prayer over your areas of doubt.