The following is a written preview of our new Q&A style podcast where Pastor Foley takes questions related to the Whole Life Offering discipleship training model. Subscribe now!
Q: In James 5 it says, “If you’re sick, confess your sins.” Can you tell us why that verse isn’t necessarily saying that you’re sick because you’re sinning (even if that is a possibility)?
A: Here’s the problem: we look at confession as a bad thing. We look at it as ipecac syrup – something we would rather not take; the gauntlet through which we have to run to get to the other side. But we need to change the way we look at confession because the Bible doesn’t portray it that way. The Bible portrays confession as a means of healing, a means of grace.
When we’re sick, the wrong way to read that passage would be, “You are sick because you have hidden sin; therefore, confess your sin. Own up to that. Fess up. Come on.” Like the bright light of the investigator is shining on us in the interrogation room. But that’s not how James portrays it. He says, “Look, if you’re sick, that ointment of healing is available to you in the form of confession. And it’s not just your confession as if everyone is just standing around listening. The elders of the church are going to gather around with you and all of us – together – are going to do what we see the church doing every time it gets together because we see confession as a means of grace.”
Nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus…other than that which we hold on to and use to push him away. And we’re most tempted to do that in illness because in those circumstances, we put our faith in our own strength, in the wisdom of the doctor, etc. Those are important components of recovery, but they’re insufficient. What we need first of all is to receive the fullness of God’s love and we need to make sure that we are not doing anything that stands in the way of that like holding on to things that we’re embarrassed to confess to God because we don’t know how he’s going to respond.
Q: Do you think if we had a more Biblical view of confession that would influence even the way we approach God?
A: Remember, we’re in the religion that says, “Consider it all joy when you suffer.” The next verse does not say, “Because God is going to do a powerful work of deliverance in your life.” Sometimes he does, by bringing bodily healing to you. And sometimes he does by giving you new insight into how fully you can depend on him; how completely you can experience his grace, regardless of your age, physical condition or health. Nothing is going to impair your ability to experience God’s grace.
We find, especially as we teach the .W order of worship to those who don’t have much background in the church, that they actually like confession. The reason is because they look at confession the right way. They think, “Here is a God who has fully accepted me in Christ Jesus. When I confess, I don’t have to worry that I won’t be received.” They read Genesis 1, 2, 3 and see that the fundamental problem there is related to the fact that when Adam and Eve sin, they hide. Adam and Eve demonstrate their lack of trust God’s character which is what caused them to sin in the first place.
We believe, because we’ve seen the fullness of that character expressed in Jesus, that we can come quickly to him, without fear of reprisal and say, “Father, I sinned. This is what I did. I know this isn’t how you want me to live.” We name the sin. We name the grace that renders that sin powerless over us. And then, in the company of the other believers, we encourage each other towards a way of life that is true to who we really are.
Who is not going to want that? That’s where confession is something that we ought to really want to participate in.
Submit your questions to Pastor Foley by posting a comment or emailing us at [email protected].