In your last session, you began to share some of the main areas of sin in your life. Identifying those areas is one step in the process of confession. However, it is critical to move beyond that initial acknowledgment of sin to an examination of the inner dynamics of it.
Over the next two sessions, each group member will talk about how a particular sin issue affects his or her life, using the creative format of a letter from an imaginary personal demon as a means of opening communication and increasing vulnerability. This exercise will encourage you to think about how your specific sin operates, what payoff you hope for from the sin, and what habits and ways of thinking from our culture or your personal history the sin stems from.
Read Sessions 5 and 6: A Letter from Your Tempter.
Complete the Life Change: A Letter from Your Tempter exercise beginning on page 96.
Half the group members should be prepared to share their tempter letters in session 5, while the rest should be prepared to share them in session 6.
In his marvelous book The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis used the correspondence between a supervising demon, Screwtape, and his young apprentice, Wormwood, to give a behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of evil. Readers get a glimpse of how evil conspires to work with a person’s strengths and weaknesses in order to encourage moral and spiritual failure or at least to make the person live a baneful existence. The young demon is supposed to manipulate “his” human’s desires and twist his efforts at love and wisdom so that they end up in sin or failure.
In these two sessions, group members will read to one another their letters from their imagined tempters. (The corresponding “Life Change” exercise beginning on page 96 guides you through the writing of your letter.) Sharing the letters should be done in a single-sex setting. Select a second group leader for these two meetings.
The following verses provide helpful ground rules for this exercise:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5)
Each member will read his or her tempter letter unless there is some exceptional circumstance. If you feel convicted against sharing about a certain area of struggle, choose another area to address in your letter. But think about that area you’re unwilling to talk about with your group, and ask yourself, Who do I feel comfortable sharing this with? If you don’t confess your areas of greatest struggle to someone, the secrecy of that sin and the bearing of that sin on your own may be giving that sin even more control over your life. Make sure that someone in your life whom you trust and respect is aware of that sin and can support you in overcoming that area.
The tempter letter exercise wraps up your exploration of sin. The other side of integrity is the positive pursuit of holiness. Exploring sin is defensive—with help from God and the community of believers, you try to avoid sinful behaviors or attitudes. Pursuing holiness is offensive —you don’t guard against sin in order to be neutral but to learn to positively love God and others more intentionally and proactively. The rest of this study will address holiness.As a transition,you’ll discuss how the fear of the Lord sustains both the defensive and offensive aspects of integrity.
Read Session 7: The Fear of the Lord.
Complete Biblical Exercise: Genesis 20 and 22 beginning on page 46.