Should I Share My Sinful Struggles Publicly? A thought on pastoral theology.



every one a windy chilly night here in Mississauga I was thinking about whether you should confess your sins in a public way to other people let me catch you up to speed on why I'm thinking about this there's a push right now in Christianity that we should be very authentic about our sins or should talk about our sins our struggles so that people don't feel like church people are always good and that they'll never fit in because their lives are messed up their lives are full of sin on the opposite side there is a push back that says we shouldn't make a big deal about our sins because our sins are forgiven because they're forgiven God has forgotten about them and we ought to also not that we would forget that we are sinful or that we have sinned in the past but that we would remember that our status is primarily that of sinked of forgiving of loved by God not because of our works but because of the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us so what do you do if you're a pastor do you from the pulpit talk about some of your sinful struggles in order to make yourself more relatable to a person sitting in the Pew let me see if I can it can tease out the arguments a little bit more for you on the one hand you have those who would say you should be very clear and authentic with your sin so that people don't feel ashamed of their own sin let's talk about the pros of that first the pros would be there are some people who will refuse to hear about a loving God until they realize that they actually are are welcome in a church setting so the message is not their problem the culture is their problem they're so off-put by what they've built up in their mind to be Christianity that they can't even get to the place where they would hear the gospel that would forgive them of their sins and so the the push for the people who say be authentic with your sinfulness is that we would open ourselves up to those people so we can get a hearing of the gospel so those people can be forgiven this of course is a really good motivation right like we want as many people in our churches hearing the gospel as possible especially people who would not hear it would refuse to hear it otherwise on the opposite side the rationale for not being authentic about your sins is that as as soon as we start to talk about our sins in a public way in a way that that draws attention to them that that focus is on them we start to make Christianity more about us than about Jesus what we tend to focus more on how much I have sinned or how badly I have sinned rather than how much God has saved me and this actually happens in a really subtle way the people who are fighting against this authentic movement are fighting against the very subtle thing that happens when Christians talk about their life and how they come to know Jesus or maybe have become reacquainted with Jesus after falling away they will often say something like you know I've done all these terrible things X Y & Z but God saved me God forgave me not wrong right but quickly brings other people's minds to the sins that they have done and can be a very easy temptation to play the comparison game oh well you were whatever drug addicted I don't know mom who was not taking care of her kids at home and you were lying about it all to your spouse well how does that compare to the fact that I'm a husband and I'm cheating on my wife and I'm also miss spending all of our family's money I mean I know Jesus saved both of us from that but I wonder if I'm not as bad or maybe a little bit worse than than she is also what this does and why people who push against this authentic motion moment authentic movement like to fight against it is it makes it less about how utterly depraved every one of us is so if I can get up in front of a group of people and say you know my sin is I struggle with a pornography addiction or you know I'm uh I don't know pick something I hope to have how about I focus on those things that I'm I am obviously failing at but I don't acknowledge the fact that I am completely and utterly sinful in all ways so maybe in a tangible way that I am whatever addicted to pornography or cheating on my spouse or have a foul mouth or miss spend my money but that does not exclude the fact that in the other parts of my life where I feel like I'm maybe I'm sort of pulling it off I am also still utterly depraved see when you start to to narrow your sinfulness you also narrow the gospel when you lose the corporate gathering of Christians who are willing to say in front of each other and found an end in front of God I am completely sinful in every way there is no difference between all of us we are all sinful and have fallen short of the glory of God and do not deserve to be saved then the gospel is sweet because the gospel is not just it's not just a band-aid or it's not just a surgery it's a complete replacement of self a reinvigorating a renewal right the way the Bible would talk about it so which side you fall on do you do you get authentic about your sin or not I'll just tell you my philosophy and I'm no expert I guess I said I'm sort of an expert because I'm a pastor but I'm pretty convinced that we should keep public confession of specific sins out of our worship services and out of most of our public gatherings I don't want to be a legalist and say all of our public gatherings but most of them I could see a place where like you know a like Alcoholics Anonymous group would meet at your church or something like this or recovery from addiction group you know that sort of thing then it might be good but if we're talking about like public worship or Bible study probably not a good place to focus on your individual sins because in that moment you are receiving full and free forgiveness for not just your actions or your thoughts or your words but the very simple nature and status of sinfulness that you were born with our focus when we get together in worship is not us it is God and God's free forgiveness for us however I don't think that should stop us from being authentic about our sin in private ways I will just say that in counseling sessions I have been open with some folks about my own sinful struggles if it relates to the topic that we're talking about because Christians bear each other's burdens and one of the ways of doing that is allowing that conversation to happen I'll just tell you this because I've worked with the ministry that that serves people who are addicted to pornography once you're willing to say that you yourself have struggled with pornography you open a lot of doors to people who struggle but aren't willing to talk about it that doesn't mean that I necessarily am gonna preach that I struggle with pornography or that I have struggle with pornography it would be the case now but it will be that I'm going to talk about it in a personal way with other people it's a messy situation though right there are pitfalls on either side of the issue and we ought to be really careful we got to on the one hand not cut off all sorts of folks who are feeling guilty and so weighed down by their sinfulness that they will not even come to a place where they can hear the gospel you should not burden those folks but in the opposite side we should not make our Christian life more about our sin than about our Savior or open the opportunity up for people to feel just a little bit justified that even though they might struggle with one sin they don't struggle with other sins hope that helps I'd love to hear your feedback on it if you want to leave me a comment and of course like and subscribe to the channel if you like what I do see y'all later