BY JORDAN MAYER
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9
This verse from 1 John has been such a precious truth in my life. It is the kind of take-it-to-the-bank promise that I've clung to every time I fall back into sin. For me, the confessing was never the hard part. It was what came after that has long been a struggle for me.
I confess my sin before God, but feel so defeated, ashamed, and consumed by the weight of my sin, that for days on end I am depressed and moody. That's certainly not my reaction for every sin, but for those particular sins we tend to elevate in our minds. Those besetting sins we tend to separate from the rest. So when I stumble and commit one of those sins, it's like everything comes crashing down. And it's in those situations that I feel as though confessing is simply not enough, that there’s something I need to do. The sad thing is that it seems, in some sense, to be a righteous act. God will be pleased with me if I really beat myself up over my sin, I think.
But in reality, it reveals a hidden self-righteousness that Satan is all too eager to exploit. While his first mission is to keep as many people from believing in Jesus as he can, the next best thing is to so burden a Christian in doubt, guilt, and shame as to make them utterly defeated and ineffective for God’s kingdom work.
I have been that Christian at many points in my life. Oh, how many days I have wasted in the worthless pursuit of trying to cleanse myself of my sin, to somehow atone for my wrongdoing by making myself miserable. Do I believe Jesus died on the Cross for my sins? Certainly, I do! And yet, my actions reveal a tendency to doubt His sufficiency and place some of the burden on myself. Yes, Jesus died for my sins but…
No, not Jesus died for my sins but. Jesus died for my sins. Period.
We must expose these lies for what they are and turn to the truth of God's Word. If we confess our sins, whether it’s the first time today or the hundredth time, God will forgive us and cleanse us from it. That's not to say that God has to re-atone for our sin. No, Jesus’ work on the cross paid for sin once for all - past, present, and future (Hebrews 7:27). This also doesn’t mean that somehow our salvation hangs in the balance until we confess each and every sin. I don’t know about you, but I know that for every sin I confess, there's several others I've overlooked. The act of confession for a believer is not an attempt to restore God's salvation, it’s how we maintain fellowship with Him. Sin turns our eyes off of God. Confession and repentance turns our eyes back to God.
We can have confidence, then, that every time we bring our sins before God, He is ready and waiting to forgive and cleanse. Not reluctantly or begrudgingly, but with arms wide open. The same love that welcomed home the prodigal son is the same love that beckons us back every time we stray.