Narrow path: the few or remnant will walk the narrow road. confess, repent, save, amends, all heart

Phase Three - Narrow Road

Choosing God & Dying to Self

Resentment stirred deep within my soul. The dishonest culture, false flattery, first impressionism, hypocrisy, materialism, and lies disturbed me greatly. Raised around bad choices and dysfunction brought distrust, disconnection, and a hardened heart. I was angry. The world was unfair.


I had to let go of my resentment, anger, and defensiveness in order to grow with God. When others would lie, deceive, or manipulate for their own selfish ambitions my response had to change from anger to understanding. I had to develop a new way of responding to them that had tolerance and love. This took some inward adjustments.


After some time of prayer, practice, reflection, meditation, and hearing  from others in meetings, I began to slowly experience peace and acceptance. I learned that how I set my thinking greatly affected my spiritual-emotional experience. If I thought about the sin and wrongs in the world how evil it is then evil would be experienced. If I thought about how I could add peace or love then peace or love could be experienced. Yet such thoughts must be sincerely believed. I needed to explore and practice forgiveness, mercy, and patience.


We must be willing and open to let God change our views. Prayer can help.


Some cleaning up of our disbelief will be necessary. We will need to look deep within us at our attitude of impatience, selfishness, fear, anger, and hurt, for confession, peace, forgiveness, restitution, and correction.


We must understand that God is love, truth, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, peace, patience, impartial/just, and generosity. To follow, serve, obey, and trust God will be to gradually trust in our adaptation to such character traits. We must grow our thoughts and experiences with them through Daily Development Activity.


Evil within us ~ Idolatry, fear, anger, vanity, envy, sloth

Idolatry

Anything we worship that is not God.

Money, career, ourselves, athletes, movie stars, rock stars, preachers, cars, teams, groups, etc.

Our hidden admiration and love for such things can keep us from prioritizing God as we must do in order to experience grace in abundance.

Fear

We can fear anything, even fear. There is a long list of phobias. If fear makes decisions for us then it controls us. This is where intelligence works better than emotion. If God says something is good and right, but our fear stops us, then we ought to go to intellect, see the truth, and take the right action which is often walking through the fear.

Anger

Anger can be subtle and go unnoticed especially when surrounded by others who are also angry. It's like being in a bar with a bunch of alcoholics comparing ourselves with other drunks and deciding we don't have a problem.

Anger blocks God's love, peace, patience, forgiveness, etc. To grow in God we must forgive and act toward peace.

Vanity

Vanity is selfish pride. When we make decision based upon how much we are going to get our improve our position, then we are making decision upon vanity.

Although improving ourselves can benefit our ability to do God's will, those who are suffering from vanity will rarely if ever use such improvements for God. Often times the vain person will give a sliver of their "blessings" to God in order to ease their shame or guilt.

Envy

Looking to others for what is good and right is to miss God and God's will for us. How other people look, what they have, or what they can do is not to be worshiped. We are to set our hearts and minds upon God and keep them there.

If we take a different, more spiritual look at those we envy, we may uncover emptiness, suffering, and even loneliness. This helps to reduce or remove our envy and brings us into a more spiritual reality.

Sloth

Procrastination is to avoid responsibilities that can bring improvements. We may think we "deserve" rest or within our minds reduce the importance of doing _____. Yet if we give ourselves over to God and do what God desires then we will acting correctly.

Postponement or " I"ll do it tomorrow" or self-deceptive ways we convince ourselves to obey sloth.

What voice will we obey?

Obeying the Holy Spirit within us

Once we have been made ready to let go of our old ways we may begin pursuing God's good saving grace. Once shackled by distrust, resentment, pride, fear, etc. we have been made free to accept the way of truth into our lives, to put on new shackles of truth, peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and patience. It is of high importance we witness the spiritual consequences of doing such good to add to our faith more and more.

Purify our heart & cleanse our conscience

We ought to read, discuss, and meditate upon the 'Good' and 'Evil' packets to improve our understanding of how God defines them. We can then correct any mixed messages we may have about them. Next we can list evil we practice in our minds and hearts and become ready to confess them. With continued regular attention toward growing in God's good, God's good can overcome evil. This is repentance.

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Confess

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.


Matthew 3:6 “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 


Mark 1:4 “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” 


Mark 1:5 “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” 


Mark 4:22 “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 


Luke 3:3-14 “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 


Confess and renounce, confession without repentance is catharsis and temporary


Having completed our list from Self-Examination we become ready to share it with another person who understands Righteous Adjustments. Each person will perform this task a bit differently. The important point is that we get to it and begin the process with every intention of continuing in it. 


Confidentiality is important, but more importantly is our purification from evil. Sitting in shame, anger, self-pity, and deception is dangerous and destructive. We ought to commit to doing the right thing being ready to accept whatever discomfort it may cost. If we resist out of fear then fear will win. If we obey fear then we are not obeying God.


During confession it would do us good to watch for patterns in our thoughts, behavior, and attitude. We learn much about ourselves through this process, particularly things we may want to change. We may see patterns of deceit, people pleasing, selfish ambition, stealing, procrastination, prayer avoidance, etc. When we find ourselves confessing over and over the same anger we can investigate further our beliefs, expectations, or entitlements that may be setting us up to be hurt. Some humility, forgiveness, patience, mercy, love, etc. may set us free. Such recognition helps us to set goals for corrective action with growth toward God's character.


If our confession is simply sharing our list without gaining new insight & self-awareness, then perhaps try doing it again asking them to help guide us into seeing more about ourselves. We may need to do it with someone else. There is much to learn about ourselves in this process, especially with destructive character we repeat over and over.

We must align our thinking in a manner which increasingly mirrors God's intentions for us.


2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.


We acknowledge our weaknesses and limitations daily focusing upon God's solution and take action toward that solution. In Meditation we can focus upon the positive Righteous Adjustments we have made while recognizing how we are building new relationships through honesty, sincerity, and love. We ought to be building a new life in the spirit and renouncing our old ways.


"We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin." Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline page 145


Psalm 19:12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.


Any thoughts we have which keep us in selfishness, anger, shame, fear, etc. needs examination, confession, and correction. They do not align with God's character. We all have deceitful thoughts which prompt us toward sin. We ought to be increasing in God's character through our Daily Development Activity. The truth is we can grow in love and peace, but we must have faith and act on that faith.

We all sin, have fear, worry, become angry, and think selfishly, but constantly we are called to move in God's direction, be healed, restored, transformed, and produce the fruit of the spirit.


1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”


2 Corinthians 13:9 "For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete."


Luke 7:47 "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”


Experiencing the humbling of pride in the process of confession with contrite hearts we may experience forgiveness. When we humbly place ourselves under God's care and mercy, what often happens is cleansing and healing. With our hearts open, tears may fall, and our souls can find peace. It is imperative to act on God's peace, placing our hearts, minds, and strength upon God and putting into practice confession. We remember we are not perfect and will never be perfect. Within our imperfections we may be cleansed and forgiven over and over provided we are honestly and humbly growing with God.

 

John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

 

Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.


Psalm 38:18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.


Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.


Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,


Psalm 19:12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

It is good to acknowledge the evil destructive nature living within us. Seeing the problem helps us to deal with it. We ought to look carefully with thorough examination being efficient to see exactly what it is in us that needs correction. It would be difficult to arrive at the correct solution if we have not correctly identified the problem. This part can be uncomfortable, but such discomfort is part of the solution.

Seeing and acting toward a solution makes the solution possible. The solution often times includes a change in who we are, what we think, and how we act. We are building ourselves spiritually into a new way of life and following a new authority. We are no longer relying upon our old way of thinking. Our purpose and identity is changing.


Confess to a spiritual brother or sister

If we reveal our sin to someone who is deceiving themselves, in denial, would be similar to an alcoholic confessing to another drunk at a bar. The next day the alcoholic forgets what was said or is simply embarrassed about it and goes to a different bar. Who we confess to does make a difference. 


Also, if the person we are confessing to does not understand the process they may lack the empathy, understanding, and keeping the matter confidential. It is important to confess with someone who has confessed themselves and is currently seeking to build their relationship with God. Such a person is more likely to help provide insight and helpful guidance.


Acts 19:18 “Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.”


Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible.”


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 man is powerful and effective.


Our new life with God is to reveal God's truth in love and peace


John 7:4 "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”


Empty Confession

What we are to seek is love, compassion, and peace. Our attention is to grow toward our emotional condition or inward senses. These are intangible sensations and are Godly experiences. Confession without feeling and a callused or hardened heart may be done with wrong motives. If we find ourselves confessing, but not really making any inward changes, then our lack of sincerity may deprive us from the result we ought to be seeking. Some of us can become so emotionally dishonest and disconnected with our heart and spirit we find ourselves going through the motions being lead by outward instruction. If this is the case then meditation, prayer for God's help, and discussions regarding love, compassion, empathy, and emotional understanding can help. We ought to be ready to end our dependency upon self-knowledge and willing to trust God's character more and more.

Our selfishness and emotional distancing brings forth spiritual destruction. Lies we speak, gossip we listen to, having fun at someone else's expense, grudges we hold, lustful images we seek, pockets we tighten, false flattery and exploitation we use, and many other forms of selfishness slowly corrupt God's love in all our relationships. Experiencing empathy, although uncomfortable, can help us understand the pain from our actions and choices. Empathy is of high spiritual value. How can we love sincerely if we do not emotionally connect, relate, and understand? Deep empathy for others can heal spiritual damage.

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.


Confession informs others of our actions, that we understand what we did wrong. Expectation to change is a natural result from a confession. If someone apologizes and then does nothing to correct it, what good is that?


Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.


Let go and let God is to acknowledge our will, knowledge, ideas, and methods as missing the mark while accepting God's will, character, ideas, and ways to be better. We seek God with All our heart, All our mind, and All our strength to align it more with God for our development and inward healing, cleansing, and purifying.


Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.