<<challenge, face up to>>
Confrontation is having a face-to-face encounter with someone to bring biblical truth to bear on an area of concern, but is not an attack on the person. With humility and motivated by love for God and love for the person being confronted, this is speaking the truth of Scripture in love to bring Him glory and benefit the person (Eph 4:15,29; 2 Tim 3:16,17).
Walking away from or ignoring problems or issues will not solve or make them go away. Change comes by challenges, addressing the area of concern and having some form of accountability. When we confront, we have to be willing to risk the person’s rejection or anger for the sake of God’s honour, while also allowing time for the Holy Spirit to work in his or her heart as we continue to pray for them. Start by asking questions rather than assuming you know all the facts and explain what you see besides asking for their help to understand what’s happening. Do this with humility (as one unworthy servant trying to help another unworthy servant glorify God), not with a self-righteous, judgmental attitude.
Confront in love and humility, desiring godly change
self-initiated healing and Biblical solutions. This approach does not ignore the sin, but through repentance and forgiveness focuses on the cleansing and restoration not punishment. At the cross, Jesus dealt with the punishment issue. The ‘honouring Christ’ in the life of one who has slipped is contrasted with the normal disciplinary reaction approach that rejects the person, brings shame, alienates from what can bring healing and kills future dreams by focusing on the sin, how they disobeyed and punishment. This blinds the person so they forget who they are and consequently their understanding of Christ is distorted and obscured. It’s now more than ever they should have an awareness of His love, mercy and willingness to forgive. The response of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery was different to the custom of stoning her to death – He extended mercy and empowered her to change. “I don’t condemn, go and change your lifestyle” (Jn 8:11). Instead of being quick to throw stones at those overtaken in a sin, we should learn to minister the heart of Jesus to those who need His life. The church has traditionally adopted the world’s mind-set to withhold love and inflict more anguish when a mistake has been made, instead of ministering the love and mercy of God as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan whose example we are to follow by “Going and do likewise” (Lk 10:27-37). We all have areas of behaviour that need discipline and restoration yet our focus should be more on Him and His life within, not the sin that entangles us (Heb 12:1).
The Bible instructs, “Preach the Word; reprove, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim 4:2). Moral strength, courage and uncompromising proclamation of the truth can set people free. It will certainly bring life and freedom to those who respond correctly to deficiencies in their spiritual practice, thus it is a loving thing to do as it brings into a greater place of wholeness in Christ. Jesus preached some hard messages and many stopped following Him (Jn 6:60-69). However, the gospel when preached with honesty and integrity continues to bring countless millions into the Kingdom of God through salvation (Rom 1:16).
We cannot enter, or progress in the Kingdom of God without being confronted by the need to repent of sin, deal with habits, change attitudes and behaviours that are contrary to the will and purposes of God. It is an ongoing process, tackling one area of ungodliness after another, so we need to continually scrutinize our attitudes, thoughts, words and actions. Those that do not reflect God’s holy nature are to be changed. Sometimes that confrontation or conviction comes direct from the Holy Spirit through our conscience, especially in matters of thoughts and attitudes where we deal with these matters ourselves. With the issue of our outward behaviour this correction can also come from our concerned brothers and sisters in Christ, done in love with an attitude of humility, aware that we all have areas that need to be addressed (Gal 6:1). Do not be offended when another believer holds you to account over an issue. It shows maturity and a desire for godliness at the core of a persons character when they respond correctly to being corrected.
The prophet Nathan confronted King David over his major wrongdoing (2 Sam 12:1-14). This took courage, skill and tact. Even though God forgave David his sin (as He does with us when we confess), there were still consequences as there will be when we deviate from His standards.
Confronting should be done because of a discrepancy between a professing believers life and the Bible’s standard, not over a personal dislike. Even though we are born again the fleshy desires (especially in the the sexual realm) can sometimes manifest (1 Cor 6:9,10; Gal 5:19,20). A key part of coming to know God is to genuinely address sin, acknowledging, confessing and turning from it, not making excuses, compromising or justifying wrong behaviour (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:4; 1 Jn 1:9). The church is doing people a disservice by allowing them to continue in ‘forbidden’ practices and a way of life that keeps them separated from the power and reality of the new life in Christ.
As we are all in the refining process, deal with the other party, as you would like to be, with the motive of love and honour, valuing the person and their restoration into vital relationship with God, above conformity to the rules and acceptance of the penalties when the rules are broken. The focus is not about sin and shame – to expose wrongdoing, to discover how wretched they are within or extract a confession and prayer of repentance, for although these factors will most likely surface, the centre of attention is restoration to Jesus.
When Peter's actions were a major violation of Scripture and was damaging the church this was matter was brought before the whole congregation; similarly when an elder sins they are to be publicly rebuked so others may take warning (Gal 2:11-14; 1 Tim 5:20). However, as a rule confronting should be done privately, as soon as possible after the event so the fault doesn’t develop into a habit or its influence spread (Mt 7:3-5, 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:6; 2 Cor 3:18). Deal with issues the person can change. Words such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ should not be used, nor should you criticise, condemn or control the other person. Make suggestions or ask questions so they are empowered to take ownership for their behaviour and so arrive at an acceptable solution. When the issue has been dealt with, don’t continually remind them of it, instead compliment them on the noticeable changes and progress they are making as they grow in godly ways. If a person does not acknowledge there is anything wrong, you can’t force the issue but just continue to pray for them.
See also: accountability, change, church discipline, conflict, consequences, correction, cover-up, flesh, reconciliation, restitution/restore.