Sin. It’s present in both our behaviors and our motivations. Too often, when we talk about sin, we focus more on our behaviors, on those things on the surface that are easy to see and pick out. Even when we begin talking about accountability partners- people that we hold ourselves responsible to- we really only focus on those surface things.
Why is that? Why do we insist only being so superficial? I think it has to do with not wanting to offend or hurt the other person; with not wanting to get our hands dirty. I’d go so far as to say we don’t really want to deal with the bigger issues in someone else because it means we may have to deal with our own deeper issues. And no one wants to do that. That’s the tough stuff. We are too afraid, to worried, to protective to allow someone else to see all those sins we hide so deep within. And even worse, in some twisted sense, we like our sins- we like being bad, we like our disobedience.
Why? I think it has to do with our human nature being so twisted by sin that what is bad for us looks so good, and what is good and helpful for us looks completely horrible. That’s why God stepped in and did something. There’s a song by David Crowder called “How He Loves.” The first line of the song speaks volumes about just how much God loves us: “He is jealous for me…” God is jealous for us. Jealous for us…that means God wants us so much that it effects the way in which He thinks and deals with us; loves us so much that Jesus gave His life for us. See John 3:16.
1 Peter 2:24 tells us that Jesus “personally carried our sins in His body on the cross.” Our sins, those things we do that disobey God, and even those things deep down in our hearts which motivate us, Jesus paid the price for those. The passage goes on to tell us why: “so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” Dead to sin. Living for what is right.
If we continue our lives harboring sins so deep within that we don’t let anyone see, even ourselves sometimes, they fester, they spread, they kill. It’s like a horrible cancer cell that is hidden deep in some organ. Eventually it starts growing and infecting the areas around it, after a while metastasizing into other healthy areas of the body, often killing everything. Sin is the same way, especially that deep sin. If we refuse to bring it to light and do the diagnostic work necessary to identify it, then it too will fester and spread and eventually kill everything good within us.
When you’re really honest with yourself, what do you desire more than anything in life? Is it to be closer to God and to love and serve others? Or is it money, power, a good reputation, comfort, a strong family, the love of another? When you’re with people, where do your thoughts drift? Do you think about what others think of you, who the hottest person in the room is, or how you can get what you want from them? What about when you’re all by yourself? What do you think about and focus on then? Or here’s the kicker: do you love anything more than God?
If we are honest, we don’t put God first; we don’t love God more than anything else; we don’t seek to serve others before ourselves. We are commanded to…but we don’t. That’s where sin is getting in the way of us being who we are called to be. And that’s the sin that needs to be rooted out of us. It won’t happen unless we are willing to do the hard work of seeing it and getting rid of it. If we won’t confess our sins and pray for healing, it won’t happen. If we won’t get past superficial niceties and get radical in our loving relationships, it won’t happen. If we won’t allow ourselves and others to start digging around into our behaviors and motivations, the sin won’t go away!
Be honest with yourself. Get over your fear, and worry, and doubt. Start doing some serious heart excavating. Allow others to know you and speak into your life in such a way that these deep sins are brought into the light. Then they lose their power over us; then we can truly be healed and free!
Sermon Notes for “LWOA: Accountability- Heart Excavation” from May 18, 2014
Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions
We are held accountable to God, and we are to hold ourselves accountable to one another
Heart Excavation: Unearthing Secret Sin
Archeologists working off the coast of Haiti believe they found the remains of Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria
Through surface and sea floor analysis, historical accounts, geographical markers, and guess work, they have determined that a wreck discovered a decade ago is Columbus’ ship
At this point, it is just guess work, until they get down in the water and begin excavating the sight
Main concern of the Hebrews’ author is to see his readers persevere and grow in their faith
To do this, he calls us to parakaleo each other: to “encourage,” “motivate,” “exhort,” “warn”
God, through the author, is calling us to speak and listen to one another in such a way that we help one another see how sin is operating at the heart level
Sin is a reality that affects us all, down to our very natures
And the painful reality is that we like sinning, we love putting ourselves and our desires above everything else
This is why we need salvation; this is why God did all He did through Jesus Christ on the cross: to free us from that
God’s salvific work frees us from the penalty of sin, but we still struggle with sin in our lives everyday
This is where Hebrews 3:13 comes in
God tells us we MUST warn each other every day so that sin won’t deceive us and harden our hearts
We need accountability!
2 types of accountability
Behavioral Accountability: This deals with the surface level issues
Involves choosing to be honest with another person about our obvious habits and tendencies
Surface issues like: lust, overspending, laziness, gossip or slander, losing your temper, addictions, distractions, lacking discipline, neglecting opportunities
Confessing these struggles is very important- it stops bad habits from festering into deeper issues
Motivational Accountability: Dealing with the surface issues is only the beginning of accountability
Dealing with our motivations gets to the real sin issues in our lives
Involves choosing to be honest with another person about the desires and thought that drive and move us
Deeper issues like: what do you desire more than anything, where do you find your joy, what do you fantasize about, do you covet anything, any bitterness or anger, where do your thoughts drift to, do you love anything more than God
This kind of accountability requires getting past the niceties and fear of hurting or being hurt
It seeks to build each other up because of love, and is willing to get messy to do it
It’s like the excavation of the Santa Maria
A lot of work has been done at the surface, but no real discoveries will be made until they get in the water and dig
Discovering and overcoming the surface sins is great, but the really big deal is making the big discoveries, overcoming the secret sins hidden deep in our hearts that we may not even realize are motivating us
What would life be like, and how would it be different, if you intentionally and regularly shared your behaviors and motivations with another person?
It’s a scary prospect, filled with fear and worry and doubt
The fear and worry and doubt that we have when it comes to being honest is not from God, but from the devil
Get over the fear, and trust that when God says He will work for your good in everything, He means in this too!
Do the work to have a meaningful, accountability relationship with someone else
Be honest with them, so honest that you can get past your fear and worry and doubt and get some real heart excavation done!
Read Hebrews 3:12-14 again, keeping in mind that this is God speaking directly to you!
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.