Questioning the practice of having “accountability partners”, certain software that reports activity to others and all sorts of other penitent contrivances.
An open letter on the subversion of Grace. For Paul C. (2/23/16)
2 Cor. 12:8-9 “Prayed that it (a messenger of Satan) might depart from me.” And He said, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Do we have character defects that have been frequently prayed over and left unhealed by the Lord? Why would we persecute ourselves further? (By device, or by mindful design, human accountability, or other penance?) Do I doubt His power?
If Christ says “My grace is sufficient” why am I compelled to further action?
And yet I know the defect persists… despite my vain efforts to ignore it or defuse it. In failure, I suffer humiliation in my mind – and publicly – if I’ve engaged to be “accountable” to others. What?! Is fear of man’s condemnation more powerful? Is my pride more wounded by self-chastisement than by the conviction of the Holy Spirit? If so, there are problems in my spirit more disconcerting than just sin. I’ve failed to see Jesus.
Most definitely, I am humbled by my inability to resist. I feel defenseless, powerless. And yet, in time as I “fight” sin, it becomes less and less influential. In my heart, the desire and intention to live pleasing God overtakes the compulsion of my mind. Temptation gets easier to let pass.
But if my present lack of perfection causes me to doubt the certainty of God’s promise, that’s a problem with willfulness and pride.
Am I measuring my progress by my own yardstick or Gods? His yardstick is Jesus. My yardstick is my behavior. Which is more righteous?
As I prefer to be evermore in Godly contact, time passes. After a season (many years perhaps) I awake to an awareness that I’ve changed. The presence of Christ insulates me. I’m not immune, I’m defended. By love.
I’m permitted to ignore what used to compel me. Where I failed, I’m covered by grace and there is no condemnation. And in this process, I’m even more humbled because I know this didn’t happen by my own will. But by the Spirit that dwells in me.
Ro. 8:13 “By faith (the Spirit) put to death the sins of the flesh, and live.”
A close reading of scripture will attest that I am accountable to God. Jesus must wash my feet. Every day I’m soiled by living in this world. And by the Body and Blood of Christ, I regularly remember what he did. Persistent confession is continual agreement with God.
1 John 2:1 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
But publicly it is a one-time admission before my brothers. It is baptism into the truth. “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sin.” I say: “Fellows, I struggle with … so and such.” And then we pray for each other and keep on praying for each other. Let us always be found praying for the Grace of God.
James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
But we should not be found to fall into a repetitive cycle of discussing failure.
1 Cor. 14:26 “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”
So let us be careful that we aren’t compelled to subvert the power of God’s Grace by our own, no matter how mindfully designed, mechanisms. Let’s place our confidence where it is due. And that is not in ourselves.