II. THE OBJECT OF OUR DEALING WITH SINS
[The object of our dealing with sins is the sins themselves. There are two aspects with regard to sin: the nature of sin within and the action of sin without. The nature of sin within us is in the singular form; the action of sin without is in the plural form. The singular form of sin is the life of Satan within us, with which we have no way of dealing—the more we deal with it, the more alive it becomes. The dealing with sins of which we are speaking is our dealing with the sins which we commit outwardly, the sins in our actions.]
III. THE BASIS OF DEALING WITH SINS
[Our object in dealing with sins includes all the sins we have committed. In carrying it out, however, God does not require us to deal with all the sins at once, but to deal with all those that we are conscious of while in fellowship with Him. We do not mean to say that we must deal with all the sins that we have actually committed, but only with those we are conscious of while in fellowship with God. The basis, therefore, of dealing with our sins is the consciousness we have while in fellowship with God.
We can leave undealt with for the time being the sins of which we are not aware, until such time as we do become aware of them in fellowship with God. Practically speaking, dealing with sins is not an ordinance of the law, but a requirement of fellowship.] Once our fellowship with God is hindered due to unconfessed sins, then our experience and growth of life become abnormal. Therefore, we must confess our sins as soon as the Lord exposes them in our fellowship with Him. Then we will have life and peace all the time.
IV. THE LIMIT OF OUR DEALINGS WITH SINS
[The limit of our dealing with sins is similar to that of our clearance of the past. It is life and peace. When we deal with sins, we should do it until we have life and peace within. If we follow our consciousness in dealing with sins, we will feel inwardly satisfied, strengthened, refreshed, and quickened; we will also feel joyful, restful, comfortable, and secure. Our spirit will be strong and living, and our fellowship with the Lord will be free and without hindrance. Our prayers will be releasing and with authority, and our utterance will be bold and powerful. All these senses and experiences are the conditions of life and peace. This is the limit of our dealing with sins, and this also is the result of our dealing with sins. What we have said before about dealing with sins thoroughly implies that we deal with sins to such a state of life and peace.]
V. THE PRACTICE OF DEALING WITH SINS
[How should we deal with the actual committing of sin? If we have offended God, we must deal with it before God and ask His forgiveness. If we have sinned against man, we should deal with it before man by asking man’s forgiveness. If our act of sinning against man involves only a moral matter, we have only to confess this and apologize before man. If it also involves a loss of money and profits, then we should pay accordingly the amount we owe. This act of apologizing and reimbursing applies not only to sins committed after we are saved; we must also deal with all those sins committed before we were saved; we must deal with them one by one before man according to the inner consciousness. This dealing with sins before man is the major part of this matter of dealing with sins, and we should take heed to practice it.
Every sinful act of ours, when become known to others, whether it causes damage to them or not, results in a discordant condition between us. For instance: if we abuse or curse another person, we have on one hand a record of sin before God, and we have made on the other hand a bad impression upon the one we have cursed and also upon any others who were present. Thus, it is difficult for us all to live together in harmony as before. Therefore, if, after being enlightened, we become conscious of this, we have on the one hand to confess it to God and ask His forgiveness, and on the other hand to go to the persons concerned—the one who was cursed and any others who were present—to apologize and also to deal with what we have said. By doing this, the bad impression we have given them will be eradicated, and we can live together as formerly. The dispelling of a discordant situation is in relation to man, but the possession of a clean conscience, void of offense, is in relation to ourselves.
If the sin we have committed involves material things or the gain of others, we should make restitution. When we restore what we have taken, we should pay according to the original value and add a little more to compensate for the loss. In the Old Testament, in Leviticus 5, it is stated that one fifth should be added. In the New Testament we have the example of Zacchaeus (Luke 19) restoring fourfold to those whom he had cheated. These are not laws or regulations, but principles and examples to show us that whenever we make restitution, we should add something to the original value.]
(Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)