In part one and part two, we identified the symptoms of our fights and diagnosed our primary illness as idolatry. Idolatry causes us to worship what is important to us, which affects the way we pray and the way we relate to one another when we don’t get what we want.
The treatment for idolatry is pure confession.
THE TREATMENT: PURE CONFESSION
James 4:6-10 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Our confessions are riddled with insincerity, presumption, and hypocrisy. James knew this, which is why he shows us in these short verses what pure confession looks like. Pure confession always includes genuine sorrow for sin, humility, repentance, and a restoration of the relationship.
- Genuine sorrow for sin – In this passage, James tells us that when we confess, we should not be laughing or joyful, but rather sorrowful for our sin and the pain that it caused. If a cheating spouse laughed as they apologized for their sin, there is no way they would be forgiven. If we approach God with a light-hearted, presumptuous, insincere attitude, why would we be forgiven?
- Humility – True confession always includes humility. In confession, we willingly expose ourselves and admit our failures to the person we wronged, relying only on their graciousness to forgive us.
- Repentance – Confession always includes a genuine desire to make things right. This includes cutting off opportunities to repeat the sin and restitution for the wrongs committed.
- Restoration of the relationship – God’s grace is not only available to free you from guilt. He wants you to come close to him in full assurance you are completely forgiven because of Christ.
In one sense, we could be compared to a queen who cheated on her husband-king. In ancient times, a king had the right to execute anyone–even the queen–for basically any reason. For a queen to be unfaithful to her husband would put her life at great risk. However, if she went before her king, bowed before him, confessed whole-heartedly, and ended the relationship with her former lover, the king might restore his queen to his right hand.
In the same way, God gives more grace, but he gives it to humble and broken confessors.
Fights are a Pain in the Hip
A few years ago, I started to struggle with a lot of pain in my knees. It got so bad that I could not stand up for a complete message. If I tried to stay on my feet too long, my hips and ankles would start to bother me also. There were times when I came home, laid on the floor with my legs in the air, and had Janae rotate my leg in order to alleviate some of the pressure.
After going to the doctor, I found out that I had small amounts of extra soft tissue in my knees that were causing chronic inflammation. This led to me compensating in the way I stood and walked, which caused irritation in my hips and ankles also. My entire lower body was thrown out of alignment because of the pain in my knees, which led to multiple other problems. I had surgery to remove the extra soft tissue from my knees and after the swelling went down, I really haven’t had any problems since.
This illustrates our core problem well. Our idolatry is like the syndrome in my knees. When our relationship with God is not where it should be, we feel pain and longing. We were made to worship God by enjoying him forever, and when we don’t worship him like we should, we overcompensate to find joy and pleasure elsewhere. This overcompensation leads us to quarrels and fights with one another because we are not getting what we want. Our quarrels and fights with one another are like the pain in my ankles and hips. They are the direct result of our lack of joy in God and our desire to find joy in idols.
A good doctor would not focus his attention on my hips or my ankles, but on my knees. In the same way, our fights with one another are painful, but that pain is a parable of the separation from God that we face. If we confess our sins to God and he will forgive us.
We need to heal the core problem in our lives by reorienting our lives around God. Only then can the secondary issues of our fights and quarrels be completely resolved. .