As a survivor of childhood emotional, physical, verbal, religious, and sexual abuse, I learned all too late the tragedies of keeping the family secrets a secret. As is the case in most families where abuse lives, denial is the main factor in the silence and the yeast that grows the continual harm and destruction generation after generation.
The acranm for denial is “DON’T EVEN NOTICE I AM LYING.”
The dictionary defines denial as “A REFUSAL TO ADMIT THE TRUTH OR REALITY”.
As an adult, I can agree with that acranm and definition, however, as a small child who was molested and abused repeatedly by those who should have protected and cared for me, the denial became a coping mechanism, a means of survival that went unnoticed by me until I was 43 years old.
Most children are threatened or coerced into compliance. Some children are physically beaten or hit in order to instill sufficient fear to guarantee their silence. Most are shamed into silence: “see what you did”. No matter the technique, silence is the guaranteed outcome.
Children are also guilted into keeping silent and not saying anything publicly through statement like “what happens in the family stays in the family.” There is a populer saying that says what happens in “vegus stays in vegus.” This is a saying the same thing. That tatic of abuse is used to justify the the abuse as ok if knowone knows about it.
Religus cults use this same tatic to keep their followers in line with guilt, fear, and shame of going to hell and eturnal burning in hell seperated from god if the flock does not toe the the line of the cult leader’s doctrin.
What does the Bible say about telling the truth?
When we examine the Bible with an open mind, we see that secrets and truth are never hidden. Scripture is very open. The flaws of people and the church are shared clearly for all to see. The struggles, the mistakes, the good and the bad. Nothing is hidden from public view. The example of the Bible from Genesis to Revolations is “Full Discolsure” and complete honesty. The Bible teaches much on being open and honest and truthful in our living as God’s children. The Bible does not justify hidding, covering up, withholding, or the keeping of secrets. On the contrary the Bible teaches that the truth is what sets us free.
• Identification: Truth is authenticity. God wants people to be truthful about how they are feeling and what they are thinking. In return, god is truthful about who he is and what people need to do in order to lead a better life. God wants people to speak the truth from their hearts (Psalm 15:2). God wants you to be truthful from the inner parts of your heart (Psalm 51:6). Walking in truth is the key to repairing a divided heart (Psalm 86:11).
• Significance: The bible says that truth is very important to God. God wants you to love truth and peace (Zechariah 8:19). Truth goes hand in hand with “wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). God commands people to “Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts” (Zechariah 8:16). The bible says that the way to choose truth is to set your heart on God’s laws (Psalm 119:30). We must follow God’s laws to find truth.
• Considerations: Telling the truth is not always easy. In fact, telling the truth often means telling people something that they do not want to hear. However, truth is what sets people free (John 8:31), so you need to tell people the truth, whether they want to hear it or not. You should always tell the truth in a loving way (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus provided an example, saying the phrase, “I tell you the truth” around 25 times in the bible as he shared many truths that people did not want to hear.
• Benefits: The bible says that truth offers people many benefits. Truth can protect you (Psalm 40:11). Truth can guide and lead you to God (Psalm 43:3). Truth can guide and teach you, bringing you to hope in God (Psalm 25:5). Truth has the power to set you free from the bondage of sin (John 8:31). The bible even says that God is near to those who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18). Truth sets people free (John 8:31).
• Warning: Failing to tell the truth can lead people astray. The bible says that some people were lead astray from god as a result of others distorting the truth (Acts 20:30). Man’s wickedness can suppress the truth and result in incurring the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-19). The bible says in Romans 2:8 that “… For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
What does the Bible say about confronting wrongs?
We are commanded to hold each other accountable and make each other stronger. God has given us a brilliant plan for this that keeps all close by his side.
Because we are fallen and sinful, we will have conflicts and faults. God has given us a model for working out those conflicts, whether they are big or small. We are to confront sin and but work toward overlooking personal offenses.
• Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
• Proverbs 19:11 “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger. And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
First make sure your friend has actually “sinned” or done wrong and not just done something that you didn’t like. This means study the scriptures (a new) to look at all possible renderings of possible teachings. What scripture have they violated? If they have, then Jesus gives specific instruction on how to deal with such an issue and not keep it silent.
Matthew 18 is the instruction manual on how to confront sin and wrongs. This passage of scripture needs to be studied, not just perused, and then restudied.
Matthew 18:15-22 (NIV) “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
We tend to confront things in people that we do not like. We as humans tend to withdraw from people who say and do things we do not like. However, more than more, we tend to shy away from confronting on using scripture. Ironically, both of these can be sin in themselves.
Confrontation, as addressed in Matthew 18, is to be for restoration and not abandonment.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NKJV) “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
It is important to remember that God is the only one who grants repentance. We do not correct our brothers/sisters only if we think that the person being corrected will respond well to our ideas and understanding. God tells us just to do it and leave the results up to Him.
2 Timothy 4:2 (ASV) “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
Galatians 6:1 (ASV) “Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Temptation comes in many forms, but the biggest temptation when being in the position of confronting someone on sin is to become arrogant, overly self-assured, and self-righteous. You should be humble enough to be willing to bear the burden of their sin with them.
It should be noted that there is an exception to this ‘gentleness’ principle for people who will not repent and be accountable for their sin. Christ, Paul, John the Baptist and countless biblical teachers taught and practiced rebuking such “hidden reefs, false teachers, scribes, hypocrites, and Pharisees” both firmly and publicly, sometimes calling them out by.
(Jeremiah 5, 8 and 23, Ezekiel 23, Matthew 3, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23, 2 Peter 2, and 1 Tim. 5:20)
It would seem that this firm and often times public rebuke is reserved for those who have been entrusted with God’s authority, and use it for their own purposes at the expense of the church or believers.
James 5:19-20 (MKJV) “Brothers, if anyone among you err from the truth, and if anyone turns him back, know that he who turns back the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Note that the passage does not tell us not to take the plank out of our brother’s eye, but to first deal with our own sin. This process restores both the confronter and the confronted to Christ, pulling all back into unity in Him.
These two verses are also important to keep in mind as you examine your motives if you decide not to confront someone on their sin. Are you choosing not to confront them because you do not want to deal with your own sin? Do you love your log?
Ephesians 4:1-7 (NIV) “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Ephesians 11-16 (NIV) “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Unity as believers is a natural byproduct of unity with Christ. It does not require anyone to be coerced. If we have the same love, the same obedience and the same purpose in life, we will be headed toward the same goal and offering one another grace when we can’t agree on one means of getting there as opposed to another.
If correction is just an excuse to get together and talk, unity will be transient, because we are worshiping Community and not Christ. If getting together to talk is truly a means for us to submit ourselves to Christ, to worship Him and to refine ourselves for His service, unity will be unbreakable.
Philippians 2:1-11 (NASV 95) “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, [and] being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus is one with God. Although He and He alone had the right to judge and condemn us, He chose to walk among us and even put Himself beneath us, so that we might have a chance at redemption. We, being sinful, certainly have the duty to place ourselves beneath our others so that they might have a chance at redemption. Confrontation of sin in their lives is to be accomplished from a position of service.
Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV) “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and] hymns [and] spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
When we became repentant of our sins, God forgave us fully and threw our sins ‘as far as the east is from the west’. When others repent of their sins, and ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’, we are to do the same and wipe the slate clean for them: Not remembering or holding those wrongs against them any longer.
A common misconception that arises from this verse and that can result in spiritual abuse in the church is the idea that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. Not so! We are required to forgive the repentant sin as Christ forgives us when we are repentant. Christ does indicate that we may forgive the unrepentant if we so choose, but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us.
(Matthew 6:12-15 NASB 95) “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]’ “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
If one chooses not to forgive, and hold someone’s sin against them as they walk through church discipline with them, one must take GREAT care not to become bitter, proud or to hypocritical themselves.
As you can see, before we confront a brother/sister on their sin, we have a LOT of work to do on ourselves.
Humble and loving Christian confrontation is not a reaction to being injured out of selfish anger, but as a proactive act of service to the one being confronted. We are not to elevate ourselves above others, bur follow Christ’s example and consider one another more important than we consider our self.
Remember, you are just one hungry sinner telling another hungry sinner where to find bread.
If when confronted your brother/sister repents:
2 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NASB 95) “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort [him], lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm [your] love for him.”
Matthew 18:23-35 tells us the story of a man who begged for mercy and was offered it, but would not offer mercy to a repentant man who begged him for it. The end of the story was not pleasant for him. Search your heart. When your brother/sister (or your husband/wife for that matter) has shown repentance, do you still hold a grudge?
If when confronted your brother/sister does not repent after going through the Matthew 18 processes:
Titus 3:10-11 (NIV) “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 (NIV) “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.”
Even this withdrawal is for restoration to God not to us, so that the person cannot be in denial about their broken relationship with God and can be convicted into repentance.
James 5:16 (NIV) “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Be wise in recognizing who is your “brother/sister” in Christ and who is not.
Matthew 7:15-23 (NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?”
If Jesus said that there would be those who even cast out demons and performed miracles in His name, and yet were not his followers, we need to be careful not to assume just because someone attends church, or even teaches at a church, that they know Christ. We are called to look closely at a person’s works to find evidence of their union with Christ.
It is important to note that in a healthy Christian community where the Matthew 18 process is being practiced, such ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ are usually prevented from ever getting a foothold in the flock in the first place. When obedience and confession of sin is the norm, one who is unrepentant stands out like a sore thumb.
Scripture tells us that confronting such sheep in wolves clothing will result not in their repentance and restoration into the body but in retribution against the one who confronted them.
Proverbs 9:7-9 (NIV) “Pr 9:7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
1 John 2:3-6 (NIV) “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
1 John 5:2-3 (NIV) “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Before any of us try to correct anyone for something we think they did wrong, we should look at ourselves and ask:
1. Are we the kind of person who when corrected responds badly to the correction of what we did that was wrong?
2. Are we ourselves truly teachable as a disciple of Jesus Christ?
3. Are we trying to keep hidden the truth from others?
4. Are we afraid of our own secrets?
Monday, April 05, 2010