Step 4

Opening Our Souls to God - The 4th StepPremium Content

Psalm 139:23-24 KJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if [there be any] wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The 4th Step, taking one's own inventory, can be quite intimidating. But like many other things in our lives as Christians, it should be approached first and foremost in prayer.

By literally getting down on our knees and praying, much in the same way as the Psalmist did above, several things happen.

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When We Willfully SinPremium Content

Hebrews 10:26-27 NKJV
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

Matthew Henry writes:

    From the description he gives of the sin of apostasy. It is sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, sinning willfully against that truth of which we have had convincing evidence. This text has been the occasion of great distress to some gracious souls; they have been ready to conclude that every willful sin, after conviction and against knowledge, is the unpardonable sin: but this has been their infirmity and error. The sin here mentioned is a total and final apostasy, when men with a full and fixed will and resolution despise and reject Christ, the only Saviour,—despise and resist the Spirit, the only sanctifier,—and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of salvation, and the words of eternal life; and all this after they have known, owned, and professed, the Christian religion, and continue to do so obstinately and maliciously. (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc6.Heb.xi.html)

Apostasy isn’t something that is talked about much these days. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I heard a preacher talk about the problems with apostasy and yet it is a circumstance

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ForgivenessPremium Content

There is much to be said about forgiveness and the impact it has one each life. The Bible holds hundreds of examples of people who have experienced first-hand, being forgiven of wrongful deeds: King David, Peter the disciple when he denied knowing Jesus three times, the woman caught in adultery, Paul who murdered hundreds of Christians before his conversion, Cain who killed his brother Abel because Abel's sacrifice was accepted and Cain's was not are just some to name a few who experienced the forgiveness of God in their life first-hand.

The sole purpose behind the come of Jesus Christ as a human was that He died as an atonement for our sins. He hung on the cross in our place. By all rights, WE should be the ones hanging on the cross. After all, Jesus was WITHOUT ANY SIN, but we were born into sin, yet it was Jesus who died and it is us who live.

If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 1 John 1:8.

For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:23.

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Self-ForgivenessPremium Content

An alcoholic woman told me, "My dad was always drunk and in and out of prison." She sniffled and continued, "I hated him for that. Now I'm doing the same thing to my family." She leaned over my desk, sobbed and said, "I can't forgive myself."

A drug addict told me he couldn't forgive himself because his use left him with short-term memory loss and in financial ruin.

Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished." John 19:30 He never said it is finished except for alcoholics and other addicts.

Do you identify with them? What is at the root of this lack of self-forgiveness?

Maybe you've done something awful. You asked God for forgiveness and He forgave you (1 John 1:9). However, you think you need to punish yourself anyway. God doesn't need your help. Jesus paid the price in full for your forgiveness.

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You May Not Hate But.... Do You Love?

John 8:12 NRSV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."

I am by nature probably more like a chicken than any other animal on the planet. I like to wake up with the sun and go to sleep with the sun. In the winter, I like to sleep for long periods of time in the darkness and in the summer, I am up with the light and energetic until the darkness comes. For me, all this is is a quirk of physiology or training or something. It makes it difficult for me to entertain others long into the night because I begin to drop off after nine, but other than that, it is simply a personal eccentricity. We all have them.

Do You Practice Humility?

Humility is not something regularly taught these days. Preachers focus on salvation, on relationships, and some focus on integrity (though not many). But it’s been a long time since I heard someone teach on humility. Peter has an interesting take on humility. He states that it is the foundation of all relationships: "You must cloth yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another." For me, there are three aspects to humility when I deal with those around me.

1 Peter 5:5-9 NRSV

What is the condition of my heart?Premium Content

Psalm 86:11 NRSV
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in Your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere Your name.


What is the condition of my heart?

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Step Four and PrayerPremium Content

The 4th Step, taking one’s own inventory, can be quite intimidating. But like many other things in our lives as Christians, it should be approached first and foremost in prayer.

Psalm 139:23-24 KJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if [there be any] wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

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Step 4 - Defensive Self-righteousness Premium Content

As you take inventory you will be tempted to become defensive. Our life patterns are part of us. When we start to look at them honestly for the first time in our lives, our immediate reaction is to dig in our heels and try to justify our past behavior.

In the fourth step you have to be relentlessly honest. You have to look at yourself objectively and refuse to defend anything that is wrong in your life (past or present). The first step out of your dark pit and into the light and victory starts with complete honesty.

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Dealing with Disappointment in Self

Disappointment in self
Who hasn't felt it?
Chatter of internal communication
Falls silent
Image of parent past
Comes to life
Bigger than life
Immovable
...and angry.
Visceral dread
Spreads.
Tightness in throat
Shallowness of breathing
Bowing of head
Awareness narrows
Awaiting arrows
Certainly deserved...

SURPRISE!!
It's a FEELING!!

Deep breath
Expanded focus
Gaze lifts
Shoulders relax
Honest reflection sorts wheat from chaff
Chatter begins
Balance restored
Everything flows
Decisions made
Self released...

Forgiveness is such a gift.

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