by Fr. Chris Lee (the Cool Hip Priest)
If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
1 John 1:9 NLT
God loves a repentant heart
God calls each of us to a life of confession and repentance. It is a life of prayer, and sacrifice that we willingly accept in gratitude of what He has accomplished for us on the Cross. It is a life of contemplation that focuses on the sacrifice of Jesus through His death, burial, and resurrection. It is a life of deep repentance, and confession of sin. God perpetually calls us all too honestly consider our current relationship with Christ, and strengthen it. Perhaps there is no better way to begin than confession and repentance. Some have even called confession a spring cleaning for our souls.
Our journey will have three stops:
1. Flushing Out Sin
2. Confessing Your Sins
3. Making Amends
Let's get started, shall we?
STOP 1 A Positive Way To Flush Out Sin.
"Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet." - Romans 7:7 (NLT)
The Apostle Paul teaches us the benefits of studying God’s commandments for the purpose of revealing sins that need to be flushed out of our soul. In fact, he goes so far as to tell us that he wouldn’t even know what sins he was guilty of without it. St. Paul is a glimmering example of one who confronted his sins bodily in order to drink richly from the fountain of grace!
The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to lovingly reveal our sin
When we study the Commandments, we can clearly see our failures to be Godly people. We see our character flaws, and our shortcomings. The Commandments help us to realize the depth of our sin, and drive us to the Throne of Christ to seek His grace, and mercy. The Commandments act as a spiritual mirror in which we can honestly look at the condition of our souls. This is a very positive way to know the truth about ourselves.
Study The 10 Commandments of Exodus 20 and write down the sins they reveal:
STOP 2 Confess Your Sins
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)
If the purpose of the 10 Commandments is to flush out sin, what do we do with the sin that is revealed? Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come boldly or rush to the seat of Christ where grace and mercy await our sincere confession. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT) We have the amazing privilege of confessing the sins that the Commandments reveal, and receiving forgiveness! A child once described confession as a washing machine for the soul.
I remember an occasion in my own childhood where I blatantly disobeyed my parents, and then told a lie to cover up my transgression. I remember my Sunday school teacher focusing on the Commandment that says, “Do Not Lie”. I immediately realized my sin of lying to my parents. This drove me to the Throne of Grace, because I needed forgiveness. The Commandment showed my guilt, and persuaded me to repent. I went and confessed my disobedience to my parents and confessed the lie I told to cover it up. It was indeed a washing machine for my soul. I received the Grace of Christ and the grace of my parents as well.
STOP 3 It’s time to make amends.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT)
Now that we have used the 10 Commandments to flush out sin; confessed the sin to Christ; it’s time to confess to one another. James tells us that making amends by confessing our sins to those we have sinned against actually brings healing to our souls. Healing of what? Healing of guilt! We confess our sins to Jesus to receive forgiveness, but we confess to those we have sinned against to receive healing of conscience.
I remember how it felt to actually come clean with my parents about being disobedient, and confessing the lie I told to cover it up. This made a big difference in my relationship with them even as a child. While I was being deceptive, I wasn’t able to fully engage them. In fact, I remember actually trying to avoid them as much as possible because I felt guilty. Once I came clean, the guilt left me, and I recovered the joy of being around them again.
Like me, many people are avoiding others because of the guilt they feel from sins committed against them. I have often been asked as a Pastor, why they still feel a guilty conscience even though they have asked God to forgive them? My response is simple. They have received forgiveness from Jesus, but need to come clean to those sinned against to receive peace, and the removal of guilt.
NOTE: The featured image of THE PRODIGAL is from a statue on the grounds of Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London England.