Coming Clean


I have a friend who is a Colorado State Trooper. He said that he was trying to stop a speeding semi with out of state plates. But the big rig just kept on going. Lights. Siren. On his bumper.

 Truck finally ran out of gas. CSP officer walked up to the trucker’s window. “Did you see my light? Siren?” “Yes. Yes.”  “Why didn’t you pull over?”

 “Well, to be honest, about 2 years ago, my wife ran off with a Colorado State Trooper. I was afraid you were trying to bring her back.”



Wouldn’t it be great to know that we could live with no fear that our past would catch up with us? I believe that’s possible. And that’s what we’ll talk about today.


RECOVERY. Each week, we’re looking at a different letter to represent 8 steps that Jesus, our leader, gave us that help us get unstuck from the habits that mess us up, from the problems that would cause us difficulties, the memories we can’t seem to let go of. Jesus said it like this — from the Beatitudes — just like the other 3 steps. (Matthew 5:8) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  


Principle #1: The REALITY Step — Realize I’m not God, that I’m powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable. “I realize that I have problems I can’t seem to control.”


Principle #2: The HOPE StepE stands for earnestly believe that God exists and seek Him. Although I’m powerless to control all the problems and all the things in my life,

Principle #3: The COMMITMENT Step — It’s not enough to know that I’ve got problems. And it’s not enough to know that God can solve them. I must consciously turn them over to Him.


R - E - C = REALITY - ERNESTLY - COMMITMENT. Today, were at


Step 4/Principle 4. The letter “O.” “O” stand for: Openly EXAMINE AND CONFESS my faults to myself, to God, and to SOMEONE I trust. Taking responsibility for where your attitude, your words and actions have gotten you today. COWBOY UP. COWGIRL UP.

It has to do with cleaning up the past, letting go of guilt, gaining a clear conscience, learning to live guilt-free and the way God wants us to live.


If you’ll take this step with me today, you’re going to feel a whole lot better a week from now. Step 4 is the HOUSEKEEPING Step.


Why is this a part of the recovery process? Guilt keeps us stuck in the past. Guilt keeps us from growing, from becoming all God wants us to be. If you’re going to learn how to really enjoy life, you’ve got to let go of guilt by dealing with it in a healthy way.


The truth is, none of us is faultless. We all have sins, we’ve all made mistakes. So we all have regrets. We all have remorse. We all have things we wish we could turn back the clock and say, “I wish I would have done that differently,” but you didn’t.


So, you feel bad about it, feel guilty about it, carry it with you. As a result, we carry guilt around — sometimes consciously, but most of the time unconsciously. There are a lot of ways you react in life that are caused by unconscious guilt. Things you’re not even aware of. Things you feel bad about. We may deny the guilt. We may repress the guilt. We may blame other people for our guilt. We may excuse our guilt. We may rationalize our guilt. But we still feel the effects of it. If you’re really going to recover from the hurts, and habits, and hang-ups in your life, you’ve got to learn how to let go of guilt, how to live with a clear conscious.


So, how do you get rid of guilt? By taking Step 4 on the Road to Recovery. Good news! This step is the key to relief. And if you work out this step in a practical way — like we talk about today — you’ll be able to feel like David felt — (Psalm 32:1-2) “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven. What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.”


Sin is nasty business. And honestly, THE REASON FOR THIS STEP is prompted by what sinand the guilt that goes with it — does to us.


1. Guilt destroys your confidence.


You cannot be a confident person, if you have guilt in your life. It makes you feel insecure, because you’re always worried, “What if somebody finds out? What if somebody really knows the truth about me? As a result, we’re afraid of other people and it destroys our confidence.


Many years ago Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, was quite a prankster. One day he played a prank on 5 of the most prominent men in England. He sent an anonymous note to these five prominent men and it simply said this: “All is found out. Flee at once.” Within 24 hours, all 5 men had left the country.


Guilt robs you of confidence. It’s like a dark cloud hanging over your head and you’re thinking, “I just can’t get on with my life because I’m afraid somebody is going to find that skeleton in my closet. That carries a heavy, heavy weight. And it robs your confidence.


2. Guilt absolutely damages your relationships.


Mainly because guilt causes us to respond to people in wrong ways. Guilt can make me impatient with other people. Guilt can cause me to overreact in anger. Have you ever seen somebody overreact in anger, like a nuclear explosion to a firecracker cause?

Guilt can cause you to spoil people.

Guilt can cause you to avoid commitment in relationship.


3. Guilt keeps me stuck in the past

We talked about this, how living in the past is like driving — always looking in the rearview mirror. You’re going to end up crashing if you do that.

(Proverbs 28:13) “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up. Then God will show mercy to you.”


What guilt does is, it tends to replay in your mind over and over and over the things you wish you could change but you’re never going to change. Guilt cannot change the past just like worry cannot change the future. But it just makes today miserable. On top of that it can make you sick.

A recent study say that probably 70% of people in hospitals could leave today if they knew how to resolve their guilt.

This is a very important step. It’s a scary step. This is the one that separates the men from the boys.

You say, “OK. How?” Here’s how you do it. The procedure is very simple. It just requires a lot of courage.


1. Take a personal moral inventory.


What that means is that you get alone by yourself. You get a pencil and a notepad and you sit down and say, What is wrong with me? What have I felt guilty about? What have I regretted? What have I felt remorseful about? What are the faults in my life that I know need changing?” And you ask God to help you out. You ask Him to bring to your mind, “What are the things I consciously feel guilty about, and what are the things I unconsciously feel guilty about that I don’t know about but are messing up my life?”


Lamentations 3:40: “Let us examine our ways and test them.”


Psalm 139:23–24: “Search me O God, and know my heart. Test my thoughts, point out anything you find in me that makes you sad.”

When you take this moral inventory, you need to take your time, don’t rush it. This doesn’t work unless you are ruthlessly honest with yourself. And you say, “I’m going to be dead honest, I’m gonna quit pretending, I’m going to lay out what’s wrong with my life” and you sit down and start writing it down.

“Why in writing?” Because it forces you to be specific. “Why can’t I just think about these things, pray about them?”  Well, like the saying goes:Thoughts untangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.”

That means, if I’ve thought about it and I can say it and I can write it down, I’ve really got it clear.

Since many of you have never done this before, here’s an example:


WRITE DOWN YOUR RESENTMENTS. You may say. I don’t resent anybody. One person shared:  I resent Timmy, he’s my next-door neighbor and he’s six years old. He knocks on my door and then runs away. He threw a baseball through my window and said his hand slipped. And he calls me at all hours of the night and asks for a guy by the name of Ben Dover.


Resentment will makes you a little bit irritated, a little bit short-tempered, a little bit edgy. Or maybe a girlfriend or family member wants you to go shopping with them. This makes me a little bit irritated, short-tempered, a little bit edgy.


WHAT PART OF IT ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR? I’m not responsible for any of it. It’s not my fault that my leg just kinds of extends when little Timmy runs by and then his face skids across the pavement. And it’s not my fault I lost my job by yelling at the boss. It's not my fault nobody in my family will talk with me????? Really???



Take a moral inventory. Sit down and write out what’s bugging me, how have I bugged others. What are my faults, my sins, my mistakes.


2. Accept responsibility for my faults.


Proverbs 20:27 “The Lord gave us a mind and a conscience. We cannot hide from ourselves.” The greatest holdup to the healing for my hang-up is me. The greatest holdup to the healing for your hang-up is you. It starts with being radically honest and saying, “I’m the problem.” I keep saying, If I just change relationships, just change jobs, or just change towns, just change locations, then everything will be fine. The only problem is wherever I go, I’m there. And I keep messing it up.” So you accept responsibility for your faults.


Don’t rationalize. Don’t say, “It happened a long time ago or it’s just a stage or everybody does it.” You don’t rationalize it. You don’t minimize it. You don’t say, “It’s no big deal.” If it’s no big deal, how come you still remember it 20 years later?


Don’t blame others, “It’s mostly their fault.” You are 100% responsible for how you act, how you talk and what your attitude is fault. You need to just admit you messed up. (1 John 1:8) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”


The point is that if I really want to stop defeating myself, I’ve got to stop deceiving myself.

3. I ask God for forgiveness.

(1 John 1:9) “If we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable. He forgives our sin and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.” If we freely admit it, God will forgive us.


Isn’t that incredible? I want that! I need that! “So, what is the right way to ask God for forgiveness? How do I do this?”




1. Don’t beg. You don’t have to beg for God to forgive. He already wants to forgive you. God wants to forgive you more than you want to ask for forgiveness. He is a forgiving God. You don’t have to beg.


2. Don’t bargain. Don’t say, “If You’ll just forgive me, I’ll never do this again. I’ll give this or that up.” If that’s your area of weakness, you’re probably putting yourself on. You don’t have to bargain with God to get His forgiveness.


3. Don’t bribe. Don’t say, “God, if You’ll forgive me, I promise to do a bunch of good things. I’ll go to church, I’ll tithe, I’ll give you …”


You don’t beg, bargain or bribe. You just believe. You believe that He will forgive you. “When we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable. He forgives our sin and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.”


As a pastor, nothing shocks me anymore.

I recently heard the story of a woman, who came to her pastor and said, “I’m depressed. I’ve been in bed for weeks, and I don’t have any energy to get out of bed and live anymore.” As he began to talk with her, he said, “Is there something you really regret in your life?” She began to pour it out.


Yes, her husband travels, she had an affair and got pregnant and had an abortion, and she had never told him about it.


The pastor explained to her how Jesus Christ said, “I can forgive and I can cleanse you of every sin.” She said, “It just doesn’t seem fair. Somebody’s got to pay for my sin.” Pastor told her, “Somebody has. His name is Jesus Christ. That’s why He died on the cross. And He died for that sin and every other one you’ve confessed and committed and ones you’re going to.”


We humbly come to God and we say, “God, I need your forgiveness.” Isaiah 1:18: “No matter how deep the stain of your sin is, I can take it out and make it clean as freshly fallen snow.”


4. Admit my faults to another person.

God says it is absolutely essential for your recovery. James 5:16: “Admit your faults, to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” How are we healed? By admitting our faults to one another.


“Why do I need to drag another person into this? Why can’t I just admit it to God? Why don’t I just pray about it, make a list, talk to God about it? But why do I need to tell one other person?’ Because the root of our problem is relational. We lie to each other. We deceive each other. We’re dishonest with each other and ourselves.”


But the amazing thing is, when you risk honesty with one person, all of a sudden, this feeling of freedom comes into your life. You realize that everybody has problems, and often they have the same ones you do. You admit it to one other person. Everybody needs one. You don’t need more than one, but you need AT LEAST ONE person in life you can be totally honest with. Why? It’s God’s way of freeing us.


“Do I just go out and broadcast my sins to everybody?” No. Telling the wrong person could be big trouble. You don’t just indiscriminately tell your problems.


So, WHO do you tell?


1. Somebody you trust. Somebody who can keep a confidence, who is not a gossip and who has a reputation for keeping a confidence.

2. Somebody who understands the value of what you’re doing.


3. Somebody who is mature enough that they are not going to be shocked.


4. Somebody who knows the Lord well enough that they can reflect His forgiveness to you. That may be a small group leader, a close trusted friend, a Christian counselor.

Then WHAT do you say?


You find a safe place and take your moral inventory list and say, “I just need somebody to listen to me take my fourth step in recovery. Here’s some things I know are wrong in my life, this is what I’ve done, this is what I’ve felt. Here are the habits, the hurts, the hang-ups.”

You don’t have to tell everybody, just tell somebody. And all of a sudden, the secret that’s been making you sick, stops making you sick, because you start sharing it.


Remember, be specific. The secret you want to conceal the most is the one you need to reveal the most because that’s the one that will heal you — so you can experience God’s grace.


WHEN do you do it? As soon as possible! DON'T put it off.


5. Accept God’s forgiveness and forgive myself.


Romans 3:23–24: All of us have sinned.” All.