Theoquest | 21 Steps: Step 4

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Step 4: Admitting Our Shortcomings

We acknowledged and sincerely repented our misdeeds, confessed these wrongs to God and confided in a trusted friend.

Without the opportunity to err, higher loyalties could never grow. "Yes, I will" would be meaningless if one could not have said, "No, I will not." The freedom God has given us to live and act in the world ensures that we will make mistakes, otherwise what appears to be seas of freedom would be desert mirage.

But at the same time these inevitable mistakes of immature choosing neutralize and burden us with guilt and self-doubt, make us prisoners of the past, and accuse us before our Maker. God’s design for life in this world makes full allowance for our errors; in this environment of freedom, our immaturity admits of no possibility for any other outcome. Through spiritual attainment, however, the Father provides us certain means to triumph over the shadows of unreality, to grow through the problems borne of our uneven responses to life’s challenges, by means of which we gain the strength, conviction, and humility which result from personally experiencing life in all its reality and sometimes harshness.

Those sins we are most uncomfortable acknowledging are precisely the ones posing maximum danger, and partial confession will not produce the end we most desire: freedom from the errors of our pasts and hearts God has made pure. We therefore sorrowfully confess to God our wrongdoings in all their particulars, not that he was unaware of them, but rather to define the issues before the full light of our own consciousness. We tell the Father of our sincere determination never to fall into such traps again, and ask God’s forgiveness for every one of these sins, that their debilitating presence be cleansed from every recess of our minds and memories.

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Never, in all your ascent to Paradise, will you gain anything by impatiently attempting to circumvent the established and divine plan by short cuts, personal inventions, or other devices for improving on the way of perfection, to perfection, and for eternal perfection. 75:8.5

Sin must be redefined as deliberate disloyalty to Deity. There are degrees of disloyalty: the partial loyalty of indecision; the divided loyalty of confliction; the dying loyalty of indifference; and the death of loyalty exhibited in devotion to godless ideals. 89:10.2

The confession of sin is a manful repudiation of disloyalty, but it in no wise mitigates the time-space consequences of such disloyalty. But confession--sincere recognition of the nature of sin--is essential to religious growth and spiritual progress. 89:10.5

The endowment of imperfect beings with freedom entails inevitable tragedy, and it is the nature of the perfect ancestral Deity to universally and affectionately share these sufferings in loving companionship. 110:0.1

"And have you not also read in the Scriptures where it says: 'He looks down upon men, and if any will say: I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, then will God deliver that man's soul from darkness, and he shall see the light'?" 130:8.2

"Make an end of your misery by loathing sin. When you look up to the Noble One, turn away from sin with a whole heart. Make no apology for evil; make no excuse for sin. By your efforts to make amends for past sins you acquire strength to resist future tendencies thereto. Restraint is born of repentance. Leave no fault unconfessed to the Noble One." 131:3.3

"If a man recognizes the evil of his ways and repents of sin from the heart, then may he seek forgiveness; he may escape the penalty; he may change calamity into blessing." 131:8.5

"Our Father even loves the wicked and is always kind to the ungrateful. If more human beings could only know about the goodness of God, they would certainly be led to repent of their evil ways and forsake all known sin." 131:10.4

And all such true faith is predicated on profound reflection, sincere self-criticism, and uncompromising moral consciousness. 132:3.5

"Many times, when you have done evil, you have thought to charge up your acts to the influence of the evil one when in reality you have but been led astray by your own natural tendencies. Did not the Prophet Jeremiah long ago tell you that the human heart is deceitful above all things and sometimes even desperately wicked? How easy for you to become self-deceived and thereby fall into foolish fears, divers lusts, enslaving pleasures, malice, envy, and even vengeful hatred!" 143:2.5

"When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin." 150:5.5

The first step in the solution of any problem is to locate the difficulty, to isolate the problem, and frankly to recognize its nature and gravity. The great mistake is that, when life problems excite our profound fears, we refuse to recognize them. Likewise, when the acknowledgment of our difficulties entails the reduction of our long-cherished conceit, the admission of envy, or the abandonment of deep-seated prejudices, the average person prefers to cling to the old illusions of safety and to the long-cherished false feelings of security. Only a brave person is willing honestly to admit, and fearlessly to face, what a sincere and logical mind discovers. 160:1.7

Devotion, to the Pharisee, was a means of inducing self-righteous inactivity and the assurance of false spiritual security; devotion, to the publican, was a means of stirring up his soul to the realization of the need for repentance, confession, and the acceptance, by faith, of merciful forgiveness. 167:5.2

Not until the cock crowed did it occur to Peter that he had denied his Master. Not until Jesus looked upon him, did he realize that he had failed to live up to his privileges as an ambassador of the kingdom.

Having taken the first step along the path of compromise and least resistance, there was nothing apparent to Peter but to go on with the course of conduct decided upon. It requires a great and noble character, having started out wrong, to turn about and go right. All too often one's own mind tends to justify continuance in the path of error when once it is entered upon. 184:2.11&12

As we look back upon this tragedy, we conceive that Judas went wrong, primarily, because he was very markedly an isolated personality, a personality shut in and away from ordinary social contacts. He persistently refused to confide in, or freely fraternize with, his fellow apostles. 193:4.2

Judas persistently refused to confide in his brethren. When he was impelled, by the accumulation of his emotional conflicts, to seek relief in self-expression, he invariably sought the advice and received the unwise consolation of his unspiritual relatives or those chance acquaintances who were either indifferent, or actually hostile, to the welfare and progress of the spiritual realities of the heavenly kingdom, of which he was one of the twelve consecrated ambassadors on earth. 193:4.3

[Judas] disliked to discuss his personal problems with his immediate associates; he refused to talk over his difficulties with his real friends and those who truly loved him. In all the years of their association he never once went to the Master with a purely personal problem. 193:4.10

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