Want to be a transparent Christian? Then reveal what’s really inside

Many years ago I participated in a street outreach in Australia. With our loud and upbeat music we soon attracted a large crowd. This was good. Sinners were going to hear the gospel and get saved. Then the preacher got up to speak and it all went pear-shaped. “I have a lust problem.” Oh-oh. Instead of telling the people about Jesus, this man began to share about his private battles with sexual temptation. He said he had suddenly felt convicted about bringing his problem into the light. I was cringing on the inside. What a witness!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for being open and honest with our shortcomings but this was neither the time nor the place. The unsaved people who were there needed to hear about their Father in heaven who loves them so much that He sent Jesus to rescue them. I’m sure it was titillating to hear a preacher talk about his sin, but his words didn’t point anyone to the Savior.

Fast forward a few years to another youth outreach, this time in Hong Kong. In front of a large crowd of unsaved teens, the dynamic young man up the front decided that this was the perfect opportunity to confess his sin of “self-sex.” I had never even heard of that expression before but it didn’t sound like it was part of the good news.

What’s wrong with us?!

Somehow we’ve bought into the idea that “transparency” means hanging our dirty laundry in public places. But this is old covenant thinking. In the days of Moses you were supposed to confess your sins (Num 5:7) and sometimes this happened publicly (Ezra 10). But we live under a new and better covenant characterized by the complete and eternal forgiveness of sins. I’m not pretending my behavior is perfect and I’m all for being open and honest. If I sin I’ll talk to my Father about it and if I sin against you I’ll talk to you about it. In any relationship it’s always healthy to own up to our mistakes (Jas 5:16). But I’m not going to stand on a street corner and confess my sins to the whole world. That’s not being transparent; that’s just dumb. Why do we think we’re glorifying God by drawing attention to ourselves? We may call it humility but in truth it’s self-centered. We’re shouting, “Look at me everybody, I’ve got sin!” Well hip-hip-hooray.

Have you ever been in a small group worshiping God when someone interrupts and says, “I got a problem with pornography”? It’s like getting a bucket of cold water thrown over your head! Before you can react, someone else says, “God forgive me, I yell at my kids.” The next thing you know, the confession train’s pulling out of the station and everyone’s climbing on board. “I steal pens from the office stationery cabinet.” “I cheat on my taxes.” “Joey, I’m really sorry I said those terrible things about you.” It doesn’t take long before you’re completely distracted and wondering all sorts of things. What did they say about Joey that was so terrible?

Do you see the problem? We’re called to be Christ-conscious not self-conscious. We don’t honor Jesus by shaming ourselves. You’ve got problems? Guess what – we all have problems! But we’re not here to gather around your sins. We’re here to fix our eyes on Jesus.

We need to redefine what we mean by transparency. In the old covenant they confessed sins because that’s what they were carrying inside. But because of Jesus our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west. Or think about it this way. Satan is in the business of accusing and shaming the saints (Rev 12:10), while Jesus is in the business of defending us to our Father (1 Jn 2:1). When you accuse and shame yourself, are you acting more like your old master Satan or your new master Jesus?

Transparency in the new covenant means something totally different from confessing sins. It means revealing Jesus who lives within. It means acknowledging every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (Phm 1:6). It takes no faith to confess our imperfections. It takes faith to declare what God says is true about you in spite of your imperfections! In God’s eyes you’re righteous, holy and perfect. You are a walking, talking trophy of His amazing grace. You are a child of God, seated in heavenly places and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

If you want to be truly transparent, then reveal what’s really inside you. Sure, on the outside you’re just a jar of clay cracked and dusty, but look at the awesome Treasure inside! This is the Treasure that the world needs to see so let Him out. Don’t say, “I dare not – I’ve still got issues.” The Bible pronounces you a competent minister of the new covenant (2 Cor 3:6)! You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and by the grace of God you are what you are!

30 Comments on Want to be a transparent Christian? Then reveal what’s really inside

  1. Veronica Kilrain // July 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm // Reply

    Fantastic Post Paul! Thank You for sharing!

  2. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!

    Thank you for your post…

  3. Hi Paul,
    Re your word about transparency. There seems to be a thing where if a speaker shares their faults and weaknesses, they’re being real. “He/she is great, they’re just like us instead of people who preach this perfect Christianity”. It’s almost like something to hide behind so we can remain victims to a weak Christianity and lower the level so we can all continue in our problems.Like a buddy buddy Evangelical thing (hope this makes sense).
    So now we’re all happy cause we can remain as we are and never need to change.
    I’m not saying there’s never a time to share our mistakes and weaknesses, but only to teach how grace has then set us free.
    My view is that people who live a law existence don’t like to hear about a freedom led Christianity. They’ve lived in law for too long and don’t want anyone to rock the boat.
    Peter Wilson.

    • Hi Peter, I know exactly what you mean. And before someone writes in calling for balance – because there are plenty of preachers who pretend to be something they’re not – let me give you a little story.

      At a leadership retreat I once heard a preacher by the name of Peter Howard-Browne. He was very good. He started talking about the some of the dumb things we preachers routinely do. The issue was serious and he was real, but he was light-hearted and spoke with a smile. Within minutes hundreds of us were laughing at the stupidity of our sin and thinking, “Now that I realize this is sin and stupid, I’m not going to do that again. Why would I?” I was amazed at how easy it was to turn to Jesus in this particular issue. (I can’t recall what it was.) Another preacher would’ve thrown stones and made us feel like sinners. But PHB made us laugh at the particular sin. He got us to see the ridiculousness of it and how much better Jesus’ way is. His manner was 100% guilt-free, completely liberating, and God-glorifying. It’s one of the best teaching moments on overcoming sin I’ve ever encountered.

      • PHB is in intensive care at the moment with a brain haemorrhage – please pray that God will restore him and input peace to his wife Jan and his family.

  4. Ace, Paul. This ties together the words of Jesus “You are the light of the world (don’t hide it under a manure bucket of sin)” and his disciple John “If we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another (and the blood of Jesus purifies from all sin).”

    • That’s exactly it Ger – this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. When Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) and “I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5), I don’t think He was confused about who was who. ” For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2Co 4:6)

  5. 🙂 … excellent

  6. Bobfromchicago // July 21, 2011 at 3:05 am // Reply

    Thank you. I needed this.

  7. I totally agree with this! I always cringe whenever ministers lose the opportunity to highlight Jesus by turning the spotlight on their shortcomings in front of a crowd longing for God and meaning.

  8. Great great post. =)

  9. Hello. You have a very good point about fixing our eyes on Jesus not the sin inside, and I’ve heard about the old and the new covenant deal. But I always get stuck here. God is not bound by time or space. Jesus dying on the cross and sending the Holy Spirit in us happened after the cross and the resurrection… right? Then what about the old testament people? They still had to confess their sins and I know the whole deal with the sacrifice (foreshadowing Jesus later on), but what I am confused about is that those Old Testament people also believed in the coming Messiah and would have applied the same thing as us who live today who believed that in the past Jesus forgave our sins and defeated them (and for the OT people they believe in the future Jesus who forgave and defeated). In fact, God removing our sins as far as the east is from the west is sung by David (the OT person in Psalms). So yea, I guess I am just stuck. Bringing the embracing love of Jesus and at the same time bringing the just side of love (aka rebuke, correct, teach in love) has always been a confusing boundary.

  10. Hi there.
    I just wanted to add that even the people around us could actually contribute so our mindset could become that of the old covenant.

    I, too, still have this mindset that I could not fight. I would love it if you have a post that talks about how we could renew our minds ^^

    Hope you respond.

  11. this is awesome! Question for you paul: when I wrong someone and don’t go to them is that “bad” per se? I know I should, but I could just go on and not wrong them again.

  12. Paul, I love your posts ! I have a question for you though. Please answer it. Do u consider Arousal a sin ? I mean, arousal from seeing or watching nudity of the opposite sex a sin ? If yes, then why ? on what basis do u consider it sin ?

  13. I so wish who actually wrote this could be contacted and not a person overseeing this post. I have questions. Of course we don’t approach things in that manner. “I was once a sinner and now I’m free” is vague. Tell how you’ve changed. How your now an overcomes. I do agree the street corner isn’t were you go into a particular bondage. I just wish I could really talk and disscuss your beliefs and what boundaries you find appropriate.

    • Roshan J Easo // May 27, 2017 at 2:09 pm // Reply

      Hey fun! I know Paul will reply with something of his own. (Have you seen the Facebook page for E2R?) One great author on boundaries is Danny Silk author of The Culture of Honor, The Practice of Honor, Handling The [big] Relationship, and particularly helpful: Keep Your Love On! – Communication, Connection, and Boundaries.

      Another great book is Effortless Change by Andrew Wommack.

      • Roshan J Easo // May 28, 2017 at 3:07 am //

        Although I’m convinced these two authors I mention speak many important truths to be reminded of, I would also like to hear Paul’s convictions. Truly it’s Jesus we need to hear. Classic Christianity by Bob George and Grace: The Power to Change are two other books that I read about here, the first I’ve been blessed to read.

    • momzilla76 // May 28, 2017 at 3:37 am // Reply

      The moderator and the author are the same person. Paul Ellis. Take a look at the archive link at the top and the topics there might be able to answer your questions. He has covered a lot of what you are seeking

  14. This is good. Real good.

  15. Thank you brother for this message. I needed it sir.

  16. Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard while reading this post. Hilarious! And I learned a lot as well. Thanks!

  17. Excellent post. I love it! We are truly the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!

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