Exploring Scripture – James 5:13-16 – Part 2

Exploring Scripture – James 5:13-16- Part 2

I’m currently meditating and thinking through James 5:13-17.  The idea behind the “exploring” theme is to drill down a bit on a passage in Scripture and react through creating content on what the Spirit of God is teaching and revealing to me.  

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

In “Part 2” of Exploring James 5:13-16, let’s look at verse 16 of James 5 more specifically.  James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” I remember the first Sunday of my internship at Shepherd’s Gate Lutheran Church in Shelby Township, MI and how strange the liturgy(order of worship) felt to me.  At a point in the service, the worship leader came to a section in the service called “confession and absolution.” I had never heard of such a thing before. Here is an example of what the congregation was guided through:

Confession and Absolution – From the LCMS(Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) Website

We can indeed approach God with confidence. And yet, because we stand on this side of our Lord’s final return, we still have with us the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. We have not yet faced the final judgment. And so, with sin still working in us, the condemnation of God’s Law must still confront us, lest we have any delusions that we might have something to boast of before our mighty Judge. Above all else, Confession and Absolution keep us honest — honest with ourselves and honest before God. The act of confession is not some work that we lay before the Father’s throne; rather, it is the simple acknowledgment that God’s Word is true and right and that when we measure ourselves against its demands, we come up short.

God’s Word says “you shall not give false testimony,” but in truth, we have lied and gossiped and slandered. And so, the Christian confesses: “Lord, Your Word is true; I have sinned.”

There are three basic ways to handle sin and guilt. One is to ignore or minimize them. We’ve all been tempted in that direction more than a few times. Isn’t that, after all, what our sinful human nature is all about? Another way is to institutionalize them, especially the guilt part. After all, if you can keep people feeling just guilty enough, you will keep them coming back for more. The third way is to give sin and guilt their proper due, and then to silence them. That is the way of God’s absolution. With his forgiveness, our sin is removed from us as far as the east is from the west.

Christians know that, but they also need to hear it often. We need to be reminded that those familiar words, “I forgive you all your sins,” are not just some impersonal announcement. They say what they mean and accomplish what they promise. Jesus himself said to his disciples that the sins they forgive are forgiven (John 20:23).

 

So during the service, I was asked to confess my sins along with the 700 people sitting there with me.  What a strange phenomenon. It was scary and amazingly freeing. I was reminded of my failures. The Spirit of God brought those sins to my mind, but instead of feeling the guilt and shame, I was immediately ushered through the promises of Scripture that if you confess your sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.  It was indeed a faith-strengthening experience for me and something I will never forget as I lead a church. Confession and absolution must be a regular part of our personal 

walk with the Lord and our corporate church life within our worship gathering.

When James writes, “confess your sins to one another” he is tapping into this spiritual need that we all have.  We need to be freed from our sin. Our sin is a hindrance to life. Our sin is a weight on our shoulders. Our sin is the shackles that separate us from God.  Our sin holds us back from experience something more from the Lord. When we confess our sins and are absolved our sin by the work of Jesus Christ, we are restored.  Confessing our sin is embracing the promises of Scripture. James states one of those promises, “we are healed.”

Confession is a crucial part of the Christian life.  Confession is an essential part of church life. As we continue to develop our own liturgy(order of worship) let us think of ways to encourage confession as a component of our worship.


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