The Most Powerful Thing We Can Say

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love “Sin weighs a lot.” So Ed Welch says in chapter four of his helpful book, Side By Side.  He explains that sometimes suffering might feel like our biggest problem, but it’s not.  Sin is.  “Sin is the heaviest of weights; forgiveness is the greatest deliverance.”  It isn’t always easy to own up to our sin – especially those heinous sins hiding privately in the corners of our hearts.  But opening up and confessing our sin to God (and sometimes others) brings blessings.  Though there are more, Welch lists three and explains them.  The first two are (minus his explanation):

  1. Seeing the weight of our sin drives us to Jesus.

  2. Seeing the weight of our sin brings humility.

Blessing #3 is “Seeing the weight of our sin is the beginning of power and confidence.”  Here’s how Welch unpacks the statement:

“…Spiritual power feels like a struggle, or weakness, or neediness, or desperation.  It is simply, ‘I need Jesus,’ which is the most powerful thing we can say.  It means that our confidence is not in ourselves or in either our righteousness before God or our reputation before others.  Our confidence is in Jesus, and that confidence cannot be shaken.”

“Just imagine: no more hiding from God, no more defensiveness in our relationships.  When we have wronged others, we simply ask their forgiveness.  Our security in Jesus gives us the opportunity to think less often about what others think of us.  It gives us freedom to make mistakes and even fail.  No longer do we have to build and protect our own freedom.”

“Sin weighs a lot, but those who can see their sins see something good.  When we confess these sins, knowing that they are forgiven, we see something better – Jesus himself.”

Ed Welch, Side By Side, p. 45.

Shane Lems

4 comments on “The Most Powerful Thing We Can Say

  1. I find the problem with Ed Welch and all the others at CCEF is that they talk a lot about our sin, and too little about the sin others may have done to us.

    The victims of abuse who come to our blog A Cry For Justice have had this message given over and over to them, and it is NOT what they need to hear.

    What then need is for someone to affirm “You have been sinned against. It is not your fault. You are not to blame. You did nothing to cause this. You did nothing to exacerbate it. You resisted the abuse. You resisted the oppression. You resisted the injustice. I honor your resistance.”

    Ed Welch and his buddies continue to fail to minister to this population. They continue to harp on about YOUR sin, making the reader always scrutinize herself. And when they do say things like “The victim is not to blame,” they contaminate their message by subtly inferring that the victim could have and should have behaved in such a way as to stop or reduce or mitigate the abuse. They fail to elucidate and honor the victim’s resistance to the abuse.

    We have called on CCEF to change what they are doing in this regard and they ignore us.

    And what I’ve said here about Ed Welch and CCEF also applies to many many other ‘christian counseling’ outfits. And seminaries where they teach about how to respond to domestic abuse — like Dallas Theological Seminary. They too ignore our calls for them to change.

    • Barbara: The book I quoted from isn’t a book specifically on abuse, so I can’t fault it for not talking in depth about it. However, abuse is mentioned on page 136. There Welch says that though we usually need to have patience when helping someone in need, sometimes we must act more immediately “because someone is in physical danger.” He says, “If we hear of a child abused or wife threatened, we have to do something, and the first step is to get help from the larger community.”

      Also, CCEF does have quite a few resources on abuse, helping victims, protecting the vulnerable, and they even have a course called, “Abuse in the Church.”


  2. Truth2Freedom says:

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  3. Hi Shane, I accept that the book you reviewed wasn’t specifically on abuse so we couldn’t expect it to talk in depth about abuse. However, the quote you gave from p 136 is very troubling to me. I am concerned that he says sometimes must act more immediately ‘because someone is in physical danger’.

    Why does that concern me? Because it gives greater significance to physical abuse than other kinds of abuse. It therefore helps perpetuate the commonly held myth that “It’s only REAL abuse if there is physical violence”.

    That myth is widespread in the church — and it does immense harm to victims of domestic abuse. Domestic abusers can and often do maintain intense control and power over their victims without using ANY physical violence or threat of physical violence. And many abusers only use violence once, or a few times.

    The abuser has so many other tactics of power and control to resort to, he doesn’t have to put his target in immediate physical danger or harm…. he systematically disassembles her by many other means.

    BTW, I have no problem with Ed Welch recommending getting help from the larger community when we hear of a child abused or a wife threatened. Usually the secular services help victims of domestic abuse better than churches and Christians do. What an indictment that is on the church.

    For those who want further reading, here is a post from A Cry For Justice:

    Ed Welch Has Abuse All Wrong, and so does the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)

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