Formed Together: Week 5-6
A Challenge to Incorporate the Disciplines: Week 5-6
During our Formed Together sermon series, we’re practicing the Spiritual Disciplines together. Below is a guide to two more of the disciplines.
- Pick one or both of the disciplines and try it on for the next couple of weeks.
- Find someone (D-Group &/or Small Group) who will walk with you.
- After 2 weeks, think through maybe doing another 2 weeks.
- If you’ve already chosen a discipline – press on in that one! No pressure to “switch”
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.” James 5:16
“If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
When sin entered the world man and woman, overcome by shame, impulsively
covered themselves up and hid – from one another and from God. For the rest of history mankind has followed the same pattern, more controlled by the power of our shame than we often realize. Knowing that this is our temptation, God instructs his people to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (James 5:16). When we obey this command the brother or sister to whom we confess does not sit in the place of Christ, extending forgiveness that only Christ can offer, but does sit in the place of Christ’s body, the church, in order that we might be reminded of the truth of the gospel and encouraged that we belong to Christ’s body, lest we seek to flee or hide any longer.
For this reason, the discipline of private confession is a corporate practice of spiritual formation. Because many may be unfamiliar with this historic Christian tradition, it is important for us to stress what private confession is not:
• It is not necessary for the forgiveness of sins. Every believer has direct access to the Father through the intercession of the Spirit and the assurance that “If we confess our sins [privately], he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
• It is not a method or form of accountability. While accountability is commended in scripture as a means to fight temptation and sin, the purpose of confession is to address the guilt and shame of sin.
• It is not an opportunity for the person to whom you confess to be your counselor nor to commiserate with your common struggle. The purpose is for you to be assured that the gospel leaves you still united to Christ and his body.
• It is not a pious way to be assured that your sin is “acceptable.” Just the opposite, taking the isolating nature of sin very seriously, confession is an opportunity to be reminded that you are a forgiven sinner whose hiding is inconsistent with the forgiveness you have been shown in Christ.
With these clarifications in mind, in private confession you can expect:
• That your confession will be held in absolute confidentiality
• That you will be listened to intently and not lectured in response.
• That you will be assured of the efficacy of the work of Christ to address both the guilt and the shame of your sin, encouraged not to hide any longer, and reminded that you belong among the people of God.
• That you will be encouraged to seek reconciliation/restitution in instances when you have harmed someone else.
• That you will be prayed for, both in that moment and going forward, as
James 5 instructs.
To have a regular time of confession obviously necessitates intentional introspection into the sin in our lives, both surface sin and deeper sin. The encouragement in this time of confession is to ask someone to be your confessor (an individual, a discipleship group, etc) and take time to confess to them at the regular time (if not more often). You might have to ask them to follow the above expectations (confidentiality, no lecture in response, assurance of forgiveness, etc).
Discipline- CORPORATE PRAYER
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18: 19-20
“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:14
Praying with other believers is seen throughout all of scripture. In Acts 2, we see that among other things, the early believers were devoted to prayer. In Acts 1: 23-25, the apostles prayed together for wisdom for a big decision (who was to take the place of Judas as the 12th disciple). James admonishes anyone who is sick to be prayed over by the elders, to confess sins to each other and to pray for healing for one another (James 5:14-16). And Paul encouraged the believers in Colossians 4:2 to pray steadfastly and to be watchful in it with thanksgiving. As a church, prayer is one of our core values and we want to be faithful to continue in the tradition of the early church by praying together regularly as a church body.
During these times together, we will spend time seeking God by worshipping him, confessing and repenting of our sins, and praying for our individual needs as well as overall corporate needs. We will also spend time asking for God to use our church for his kingdom to come in individual lives, our church community, and Charlottesville as a whole.