|Rambling and Random Thoughts About Confessing Our Sins|
|Ramblings - Confessing Our Sins
I entertained some rambling thoughts during the last few days concerning the confession of our sins. These ramblings were touched off, I believe by something which was said when some friends were visiting Friday evening. Please understand, I am not trying to make any dogmatic statements on the subject of confessing our sins. I am writing some of the things I thought about this week. As students of the Bible we all spend time musing and rambling in our thoughts about how things are in the Kingdom of God.
I guess it is universally accepted by most Christians that they need to confess their sins. This is proclaimed regularly by most of our pulpiteers. Just what the consequences of confessing or not is normally not made clear. When the consequences are stated they vary from proclaimer to proclaimer. I heard something astonishing one Sunday morning in church. This takes unconfessed sin to the extreme, but here goes. The preacher said that if you participated in Holy Communion with unconfessed sin in your life God might just make you sick. And, he could even kill you. I thought, "Wow! Just take you out. You miserable un-confessing sinner. You need to confess your sin and ask for forgiveness or the result could be bad for you!" Sadly this message is spoken from many evangelical pulpits in the South where I live. The message of Grace gets put away and the Law gets brought out for the Lords Supper? Come on! I think some preachers today need to move their pulpits form Mount Sinai to Mount Zion and permanently locate them there.
Now back to confessing our sins. What does Godís Word have to say about confessing our sins? Surprisingly very little. I thought I knew some verses, but I took a few minutes to consult a concordance on the word "confess" and the word "sin or sins" together in the New Testament or New Covenant. Confess, confessed, confessing, etc., occur about 30 times in the New Testament but only a couple of time relating to sin. I read through the scriptures then went back in to the think mode as I went about life the next few days. One we all know is James 5:16, "Confess your sins to one another that you maybe healed." It is plain we are confessing to other people. I might add that the meaning of the phrase "that you may be healed" varies greatly among us believers. Another verse we are all familiar with is 1 John 1:9. It has often been called the Christians bar of soap. That phrase implies confession cleans up all up. I have in the past studied this verse closely. First the Greek words used here and translated into English as "confess" really mean to "say the same thing." Quiet frankly almost no reputable Bible commentary says it is asking for or seeking forgiveness. It just states that we are saying the same thing about sin as God says about it. We are actually realizing our sin. There is another thing about this verse in the first chapter of First John. Many commentaries say the first chapter was written to those outside and inside the church who were saying they were not sinning because the body and spirit were separate and what the body did had no affect on the spirit and was therefore not sin. These folks were called Gnostics. They claimed they had superior knowledge or "gnosis." Whatever we think about this it is clear the second chapter is almost like a start-over addressing believers as his little children.
Paul, who wrote almost two-thirds of the New Testament, not one time mentions believers confessing their sins to be forgiven. If it was important, I believe Holy Spirit would have inspired him to write about it and explain it clearly and plainly. So, I know it sounds like a great idea and it is logical. But grace is not logical. I donít find any scripture that tells me I need to keep my sins confessed in order to be forgiven.
Just think on this. Under the old covenant when a worshiper came before God he brought a sacrifice. This animal sacrifice was offered for forgiveness of his sin. When a worshiper brought a sacrifice to the priest, the priest examined only the sacrifice. He did not examine the worshiper. He was a sinner or he would not be offering a sacrifice. Is it different today when a believer comes before God? Does our high-priest examine us or just the sacrifice? Exactly what does God expect from me when I come into his presence?
When you owe somebody something you are usually not comfortable in their presence. If I believe God is my creditor and I am a debtor because of sin I will most likely be uncomfortable in his presence. The debt for all of my sin has been paid by Jesus. All my sin, past, present and future were taken care of when I accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made. I must keep that fact foremost in my mind if I am to spend quality time in Godís presence. And especially if I am to really have faith when I pray. My relationship is all about being in his presence. Here is something I am not sure I can wrap my mind around. I thought about when Jesus was physically present on earth. He forgave sins. To the woman caught in adultery, he said, "Neither do I condemn you." In the second chapter of Mark the paralytic was let down through the roof by his friends. He said to him, "Your sins are forgiven." In Luke seventh chapter to the woman who washed his feet with her tears he said, "Your sins have been forgiven." Also in Matthew chapter nine Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage son; your sins are forgiven." And now the interesting part. None of them ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins. I know one of the most important principles in scripture interpretation is saying the scripture "speaks from silence." Just because the Bible does not say something does not we can make a doctrine of it. For instance, the Bible speaks of Jesus only riding a donkey. That does not mean it is wrong to ride a horse or mule. That said, using the whole council of scripture, I think it is apparent none of them ask him. Somehow just being in his presence and being aware of their sin was enough to get forgiveness. Well, what about just being in his presence today?
It breaks my heart when I hear some preach and teach like God has a giant blackboard to keep score of believers sins. At the top it says, "Aaron - Unconfessed Sins." He takes out the holy chalk and writes all my sins every day. When I confess them and ask for forgiveness he takes out the holy eraser and takes them off of the Unconfessed Sin blackboard, but leaves all the unconfessed ones so I can somehow answer for them later. Am I against sin? Absolutely and so is God. Sin has serious consequences and opens our lives to the evil one who wants to kill, steal and destroy. Just looking around at the world makes that easy to see.
When I realize I have done something wrong, I am sorry for doing it. So my attitude is one of sorrow and not condemnation. So as I would do with anyone I love, I apologize. That may sound strange to some, but I believe all my sins and failings, past, present and future, were nailed to and judged at the cross. I certainly donít know if apologizing is how I should handle it, but it seems to restore "the joy of my salvation." I will be the first to say confession is good for the soul. We will never get the sin out of our lives until we are willing to say the same thing about the sin that God says about it.
God created the universe and my mind can not really comprehend just how big he is. I must never use grace as an excuse to ignore how awesome God is. He is the same holy and fearsome and almighty God he was in the old covenant. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is holiness and righteousness and power just as much as ever. That is the mystery of Grace, that we are given the privilege of drawing near to the Almighty God. If I diminish my view of His holiness, I cheapen the mystery of grace. I must never forget that grace is a mystery, an awesome mystery. Religion only cheapens grace. Religion says I can earn the right to go into Godís presence and that only cheapens grace. If we are not careful, confession can be taught, and thought of, as a religious work to earn God's forgiveness.
These are some of the things I thought of this week. What do you think?
Serving the King,
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