"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)
My story is not one where I came to Christ and everything was perfect. I had walked the aisle and accepted Christ as a ten-year old boy going to church with my grandparents. I walked down the aisle many, many times to ensure that I was good and saved.
My prayer life was serious. God showed up in incredible ways in my life. Still, like so many who come from a dysfunctional, broken and abusive home, the accumulation of pain was more than I could handle.
I first tried to cover up my pain with alcohol, since that was what had been modeled in my home. When that didn’t work, I tried drugs. Then I tried sex. Finally I decided that money was the answer. If I had money then I could BE someone; I would be seen and feel important.
I got to a place where I had more money than I could spend and partied with all the "cool" people on a regular basis. But I was still empty on the inside. I was still a miserable wreck trying to self-medicate with drugs, alcohol and sex.
Through all of this, I was crying out to God. I so desperately wanted to be good. I wanted to be a Christian who had the right façade and who did the right things. I had this idea of what a good Christian looked like and I knew that if I didn’t look this way then something was wrong with me.
Who I was really didn’t matter; it was what I did, how I looked. It was the mask I was trying to put on. I tried very hard to cultivate the right Christian image, but it wasn’t who I was on the inside.
Our culture is so fascinated by image. Image is everything. That love and fixation on image has transferred itself into the church. For the church, in order to be a good Christian we have to look a certain way; we have to be perfect. We have to put on facades and we can’t have any issues.
We certainly can’t be struggling with any sin. The church that is supposed to be the safest place on earth becomes the place where nobody wants to be transparent and vulnerable because we know what it will cost us.
Even though I managed to walk away from a life of larceny, drugs and booze by selling everything and enrolling in Bible College, I was still a prisoner of my past.
I was a junior high youth pastor when the FBI caught up with me and I went to federal prison. My worst nightmare stared me in the face — all of my secrets would be revealed.
The rejection and condemnation facing me was fearsome.
I confessed everything to the FBI and, by God’s grace, experienced mercy at the hands of a federal judge. God’s grace carried me through my time in prison and I realized the truth of Timothy 1:15-16 in a very genuine way. Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof. The Lord has demonstrated His patience in my life because I never could have made it without Him.
The truth of my story is the most powerful tool I have to dispel lies in my own life. Being honest helps remove the obstacles that hinder authenticity with God, self, and others. Sin loves the dark, but if we force it into the light we take away its power. When we uncover our pasts, they have no power over us.
I’ve chosen not to lie anymore. I’ve chosen to reveal the real me, continually saved by grace. Living a lie will eventually separate us from the things that matter the most. It ultimately destroys us, those around us and the relationships we most care about.
I’ve learned that there’s very little God can do with our "good Christian" facades, but there’s a lot He can do with our honest pain (1 John 1:7-9). If God could help me in my miserable state, He can certainly help you wherever you are.
Just the tiniest bit of faith can transform a desperate situation into an opportunity for God’s outrageous grace.
We need God’s grace to truly live. When we’re committing sin, when we’re repenting of sin or when we’re working ourselves out of the effects of sin, God’s grace is always with us. No matter what damage has been done, it’s never too late to build or restore.
Watch Tom Davis, along with co-author Tammy Maltby, Monday and Tuesday (September 1-2) on LIFE Today.
Tom Davis is the author of Confessions of a Good Christian Guy: The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace that Saves Them.
Be honest about your past and present. Confess all of your weaknesses, fears, hurts and sins to the Lord. Ask Him to make His grace real to you.
"Lord, I am going to be utterly honest with You. These are the issues I have in my life (list them as best you can). Please give me the wisdom I need to deal with them. Help me to experience Your grace so that I am truly alive in walking everything out. Amen."