“I’m telling!"... I think was one of the most terrifying things I ever heard as a child. Being an only child, I can’t say that I fully understand the implications of the phrase but I recall many a time that a cousin or schoolmate said it while running away toward the nearest adult. I quickly computed if I could reach them in time to cut them off so I could frantically give my part of the story first. Goodness, how I don’t miss the panic that would settle in as I watched the little tattletale run away, as my thoughts swirled around trying to figure out how I could spin the tale to make me look less guilty. Maybe I was just an exceptionally manipulative child but I suspect that at least some of you know exactly the type of fear that rushes in when you hear those two words.
I could go down a rabbit trail about all of the ways that I’ve been found out, all of the times that my sin has been exposed but I realized that isn’t the point of this blog. It’s not really even about sin at all; it’s about freedom.
There have been a whole lot of moral failings that have been exposed in the church over the past few years. While my tendency is to fault find and ride some sort of spiritual high horse, God has been using their stories both as a warning against pride in my own life and an exhortation to the church that we need accountability in our lives well before the train starts going off the rails.
The thing about accountability that makes most people cringe when mentioned is that it is so often tethered to shame. We don’t want to feel the shame of our failings. We don’t want our innermost struggles to be exposed. What will people think of us when they are? The consequences keep us locked tight in our bondage and the whole time our enemy is laughing while he watches us squirm and fight against the shackles of sin that we are choosing to stay bound in.
Jesus broke the trap! Two thousand years ago on a hill called Golgotha Jesus made it so that we could be free. All of that sin, all of the shame that we let define us Jesus took it upon Himself. He disarmed death and the grave for us so that we didn’t have to let the shame label us. For freedom Christ has set us free, so why are we so scared to walk in it?
But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don't cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
- James 3:14-15 NLT
If we aren’t to cover up the truth then we are to expose it! God used this verse a few months ago to give me direction on how I could find freedom from a giant that I had been battling with for some time. I had this jealousy that was trying to eat away at my heart. The thing was I didn’t want it! I didn’t conjure it up to make myself feel better. Every time the thoughts came I was aware that they weren’t originating from me, yet the battle waged on and I felt like I was constantly on guard against this thing that was trying to take me out. Then I came across this verse. As I read it God spoke to my heart, “Expose it!” I didn’t want to expose it! I didn’t want to look bad, especially not to the person that I knew I needed to speak to, the object of those jealous thoughts.
Oh, how I love the Bible! I love that God shows us exactly what we need when we need it. The very next verse gave me the courage that I needed to have that awkward conversation. That thing, the jealously, it’s demonic. I wasn’t telling on me! I was telling on the enemy! He was the one behind it all.
Now, this isn’t a “the devil made me do it” kind of message. We are responsible for our own actions and reactions to the temptations that are placed in front of us. What I am saying though is that God isn’t the one that is doing the tempting. It’s our thoughts where the warfare is waged. We lose the battle of the mind before we lose the battle of our actions. The problem is that we wait until there is an action—until there is a discernible sin before we decide to do something about it. By that point, we are too late. That’s how the hamster wheel keeps going, we keep focusing on the action rather than the thought that is leading to it. And the kicker: Not every thought that comes into our head originates from us! In fact, most of them do not. That is the real battlefield and we need to start exposing the enemy we are waging war against.
I am so grateful for the friendships that God has given me within the body of Christ. I have people that will legit call me out when something isn’t right. Those same people I know I can call on at any time and tell all the ways that I am struggling and they will love me through the battle. They will lift my arms when I am too tired to fight and they will contend for me in the place of prayer. God has been so good to me and to each of you who are in my corner you mean more to me than words could ever describe.
I know that some of you reading this are saying to yourself, “I want that! I want those kinds of people, I just don’t have them.” And others of you are thinking, “I don’t need that, I go directly to God and that is enough.” For the first part of you, I guarantee God has put them in your life. Ask Him to show you who they are. But you need to utilize them: make the hard phone call, set up the coffee date, have the conversation that you’ve been avoiding. Those relationships won’t grow until you put the work in to grow them. As for the second group:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
- James 5:16 NASB
It doesn’t say confess your sins to God…I need to stop here and say of course you need to confess your sins to God…but it says confess them to one another. There is power in relationship. We are God’s chosen vehicle and He works through our dependence upon each other. I believe that God set it up that way to squash out the pride in us.
Here’s an example of what I mean: We know that God is always watching right? But that isn’t always enough to keep us from those closet sins that we succumb to when we are alone. You know the ones, the things that you wouldn’t dream of doing in front of other people, especially not godly people! If we feel comfortable sinning in front of God then why do we believe that it is enough to just have Him as our accountability partner? God knew that we were going to need flesh and blood examples of His character, that’s why He sent Jesus and that’s why we have the Church now. You want free? Utilize the tools that He has given you!
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
- Proverbs 27:17 NLT
Sharpening is uncomfortable! There is friction and heat and an invasion of personal space but sharpening is necessary. A dull knife is dangerous, it requires more effort and produces subpar results. I don’t want to be dull but in order to be sharpened, I must surrender to the process.
So back to that conversation I needed to have. I had it. And while it was uncomfortable there was so much healing that was found there. Because I was obedient…because I exposed the scheme of the enemy I disarmed him! He is a master of subterfuge. He only works in the dark. Expose him! It’s time we tell on the enemy. It’s time we shine a light on his schemes because light overcomes darkness!
You are not the sum of your shortcomings. Don’t allow the warfare against you to identify you. If you know Jesus as your Savior, if you have accepted the price that He paid on the cross for your sins, then you are no longer a slave to sin. Doesn’t matter if you still feel like it, you aren’t one. Jesus died so that you could be free. It’s time to walk in that freedom beloved. It’s time to take the steps necessary to come out from under the shame that you have carried for so long. Expose it! Expose him! Be a tattletale and step out into the light. It might be uncomfortable for a time, just squint your eyes and keep walking towards your Jesus, in time you will adjust and you will be changed!
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV
Written by Amanda Strauser