Owning Up To Our Past (Unchained 4) by Kenny Green

Yesterday at Gateway Church in Austin, we continued a series designed to go beyond just a new year’s resolution. This is an opportunity to get past what has kept you from becoming the person you were created to be.

You can watch the entire series at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.

Kenny Green shared some of the following insights:

“We’re walking through the 12 Steps as a pathway to spiritual growth and to freedom from the sin patterns and the addictive behaviors that have had us stuck. and have been keeping us from living the full life Jesus offers us.

A Quick Overview:

In Step One we talked about letting go and releasing control which brings power in the midst of powerlessness. Last week we looked at Steps Two and Three which is about our need to quit trying to play God, and let God be God and believe that God will help us.  his needs to be a decision we make every day.

Through surrendering to God in Step 3, we’ve actually tapped into a power source that gives us the strength and the courage to”own up to our past” for the sake of being free from things that are hindering our spiritual progress.

The author of Hebrews puts it like this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.   Hebrews 12:1

 Steps 4 & 5 are going to help us do just that. They’re going to help us to strip off and unload a bunch of stuff that, for so many of us, has been weighing us down. We’re talking about resentment and hurts and fears from our past that, because we’ve never dealt with them are still tripping us up and still causing us pain today.

Now, I know that some of you are thinking, “so what’s the point in digging up the past?”

Remember Jesus warns us in John 10:10 that the thief came only to steal, kill, and destroy. One of the biggest ways that I’ve seen the enemy do this is in my life, is that he uses old guilt or unresolved anger to keep me from walking in the freedom and new life that I’ve found in Christ.

The apostle Paul got this too. His instruction to a group of people who, although they had been given this new life in Christ, many were still getting stuck:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Colossians 3:5-10

Paul is saying that we gotta take an honest look at our lives, and when we see selfishness, or resentments, or dishonesty, or destructive behaviors or when we see an inability to control our anger, or that we have a tendency to tear other people down. . .  we need to figure out how to put these things to death in our lives because, by nature, these are the things that are killing us. . .physically. . .emotionally. . .and spiritually.

Steps 4 & 5 are an opportunity for each of us to take an honest look at our past, to see all of our hurts, resentments, fears, and mistakes, and to stop denying the existence of these things. Instead drag them out of the darkness and in to the light.

Step 4:  We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

With God, we’re going to courageously take a thorough and honest look at ourselves.  We’re going to list the people that we have resentments toward and what they did to cause those resentments. We’re going to note the effect those actions have had on our lives, and the damage they caused. . .and most importantly. . .we’re going to own up to our part in each of these areas.

So, how do we do this? . .I mean, where do we start?

We’re going to approach it by going after these 5 areas that we’ve broken down into 5 columns on the “next steps” worksheets for this week found at www.gatewaychurch.com/nextsteps.

Please note: If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, especially as a small child, you can find great freedom in this part of the inventory.

You will discover that you had NO part, NO responsibility for the cause of the resentment. By simply writing the words “not guilty” in column 5, you can begin to be free from any misplaced shame or guilt that you’ve carried with you.

Step 5:  We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 5 requires action on a couple of different planes. First, once we’ve owned-up to this stuff for ourselves, there’s the vertical work of coming clean before God. Then there’s the work on the horizontal plane, the work of coming clean to somebody else.  Both of these will be of tremendous value to us as we continue taking these steps toward freedom.

Check out the power of confession:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

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.   1 John 1:5-9

Step 5 begins with us taking what we’ve owned up to in our past, and exposing it to God’s light. So many of us have been shouldering the guilt and the shame of our past mistakes and we’re completely burdened under that weight every day. We don’t have to live that way! We can experience forgiveness and the freedom it brings!

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.   Psalm 32:3-5

Unconfessed sin becomes like a black cloud all around us and has built a barrier between us and God, but Jesus has covered all that sin. He’s done everything that is required for us to be restored to God. Confession is just our part in restoring that fellowship. Confession is simply obeying God’s direction and agreeing with God regarding our sin.  This positions us to receive his grace and his forgiveness which is available to all of us because of Christ.

That’s the vertical business, but Step 5 also includes us admitting our wrongs to someone else. It is so helpful and important that we invite someone else that we trust into our mess with us.

For those of us who have gotten serious about this “Unchained Series” and are really going to work Step 4 honestly and thoroughly, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed at times. You might even start feeling as though you’re trapped in a deep, dark place. If you stay there long enough, you can become disoriented and start to wonder why you’re even taking these steps. You may even just want to bail out.  It’s at that critical point that we get someone that we trust in there with us, someone who can bring us perspective and encouragement, someone who can challenge us if we start slipping back in to denial.

Before I started living my life in community I used to believe that I was the most messed up person on the planet and that my issues, my fears, and my failures were totally unique. The minute that I started opening my life up to others and inviting people in to my struggles, I realized that I wasn’t alone and that completely changed my life!”

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