A vital part of spiritual maturity is confrontation. This is where we have areas of our lives that are personally exposed as being wrong, in error, unscriptural, or selfishness. They are often blind spots only seen by others. They are manifested in the daily responses. Circumstances cause us to react. These reactions expose the state of our hearts. The purpose of confrontation is to expose the heart. Brokenness is when we are exposed and respond in humility. We cry out to God for grace to change. We are not seeking to change in our own power or to please men (which is ultimately for our own glory). Confrontation is a fine art that is very powerful, yet, is to be done in the right time and with the right spirit (Gal. 6:1). If it is done too much it can cause bitterness, resentment, and fear. If it is done too little it can cause habits to be developed that are very difficult to change. It must be done soon enough to maintain peace and unity in the midst of Godís people. When confrontation takes place and the response is spiritual it creates a wonderful atmosphere of Biblical love, unity, and brotherly love. Patience and wisdom is extremely important in confrontation.
The Goal of confrontation is helping believers take the next step in spiritual maturity. It is particularly important for blind spots. The purpose is confrontation is not to get people to conform (which is man-pleasing, proud, de-motivated for change, worldly sorrow, flesh-driven, self-dependent or works, produces bitterness, fear, and temporary), rather than to be transformed (broken over self, sees self, Spirit-dependent or faith, motivated to change, long-lasting, produces love, godly sorrow, produces love and peace). Our goal is to get people to see self and then to see the grace that is supplied through Christ.
The results of confrontation are a deeper and richer atmosphere of brotherly love. It causes real change to take place. Believers gain a new sense of the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. It develops a greater sense of humility. It produces a greater hunger for God and His Word. Devotions are a now a passion created by a need. I need grace because of who I am. A devotional life is not a testimony of how good I am, but rather, how bad I am without it.
The method of confrontation is vitally important. Not all receive it even when the timing is correct. It takes longsuffering, prayer, wisdom, courage and observation. Did not Jesus observe the Pharisees and then confronted their motives. Longsuffering is loving others through the stages of spiritual maturity even when it is long and hard. Reacting in the flesh causes me to lose my opportunity to confront until I humble myself first. Humility is something better caught than taught. I must have enough objective data to confront internal motives. Dealing with motives is very touchy because of pride. Once there is a spirit of defensiveness and blame and excuses then the opportunity for change is over in this case. It may come later, but not now. Once these responses are evident then the atmosphere of brotherly love is lost or severely hindered. The flesh has prevailed and the Spirit is grieved through a dishonest, proud response. The Spirit always progresses in our life through the doorway of humility. Confrontation does not always have to come through a leader. It can be a friend or even a subordinate. The greater the sensitivity the =greater the humility and opportunity to change. When there is a right response then we become more tender to correction and change. This develops the one who is rebuked.
It is at a time when Satan is very near. This is why prayer is so important. It when lead to anger and division if there is no humility. Peter was confronted by Christ. Judas at the last supper. Ananias and Sapphira. Satan is aware of the wrong response to confrontation. He knows it can lead to years of unfruitfulness and unproductiveness for a believer. Or, he can be propelled forward to great service for Christ. Intercession is vital for Divine intervention. The heart must be in a place where rebuke can be received. Humility is of the essence so that love can prevail. You are never quite so much like Satan than when you are angry.
Wisdom is absolutely necessary for the one who is confronting to not only expose the error but to show the way of escape. The need is to deal with the root issue of the heart and show the grace that is provided for itís victory. Sin must be the issue. Paul described it as sin dwelling within him. He cried out for the victory in Christ alone.
Steve Pettit is an Evangelist and member of the CABC Board of Directors