"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:7-10
It's easy to believe the lies that the devil throws at us to keep us living in guilt and shame. But just like these verses say we need to resist the devil and his way of doing things and instead draw near to God.
1. Ask God to reveal the dark spots.
One of the Holy Spirit's job in our lives is to make us aware of sin (John 16: 8-11), so if we are truly wanting to "come clean" with God, He will be faithful to show us our sin. Ask Him to show you places in your life that you let your flesh reign, that you allow lies to multiply, that needs grace and forgiveness, that holds onto the shame and guilt, that you lock away and don't want to talk about with anyone.
2. Confess your sin to Jesus with repentance.
Acknowledge and take responsibility for your actions. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This is not (unless you haven't asked Jesus to be your Lord) asking to be forgiven so you don't go to hell. Once you're in Christ, you salvation is secure. Your relationship with God cannot change. But your fellowship sure does!
For example, if I say something disrespectful to Malcolm (my husband) that doesn't mean he is less my husband because I was in the wrong on something. But our fellowship - how I interact with him, how I communicate with him and our intimacy - isn't what it could or should be. But, when I apologize for my actions, and he extends forgiveness, we can then get back to or even improve our fellowship together. It's the same with us and God when we confess sin after becoming Christians.
Another reason it's important to confess you sin first before touching the areas of other people's sin against you, you need to take the log out of your own eye (Luke 6:41-42).
For example, when was really young (about 3 or 4) another friend said we should play mom and dad an do what moms and dads do. She proceeded to show me sexual things that awaken parts of me that shouldn't have for many years down the road. My mom caught us and addressed the issue, but from that day I started masturbating.
In my healing process, I first has to confess MY sin. I had allowed myself to this act until I was in college! That was over 16 years of my life spent in disobedience to the Lord, about 10 of which I was a christian! Though my actions were started by someone else, I continued living in the sin. I had to ask God for forgiveness for my actions, and help to not go back to my old habits.
3. Acknowledge to Jesus the hurt others have caused you with a heart of forgiveness.
I before college, I told a youth leader about my struggle and the guilt and shame I felt from that act as a kid. I was told that it was natural for kids to experiment and I shouldn't feel bad about it. But the truth is that GOD NEVER intended children to be sexually immoral, and though children may be curious it doesn't make it right!
That could be a whole other topic to talk about! But the point is that once someone pointed out that it was wrong for her to do that, I could actually move forward in processing my destructive habits. I needed recognize the wrong and extend forgiveness. I never talked to that girl about it to let her know that I forgive her, but I HAVE forgiven her! I hold nothing against her now. But I need to bring this to the Lord to have His truth in this situation.
I work with many girls that have lots of hurt and things to talk about and process through. And as much as I want to help them, my first priority is to bring them to Jesus and make sure they are talking to Him first through the process. All the talking in the world can bring some relief , but if it's not brought to God- the Great Physician and Creator of our hearts and minds - first and thoroughtout the healing process, then no real progress or lasting hope will be found.
I want to close this article with Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Jesus wants to give you rest in the turmoil going on in your soul! He wants to be your comfort and guard your heart and mind in peace. Will you allow Him to shed the truth into your life today?
Leah works with Master Plan Ministries at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Other than watching college students' lives change, she enjoys getting her mind blown by God and His Word, watching sci fi, baking cupcakes, and spending time with her hunky husband.
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