Monday, May 11, 2009

The Relief of Confession and the Joy of Cleansing

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. --I John 1:6-10
This passage really meant a lot to me earlier today as I was struggling with sins of pride and anger regarding a situation at work. The matter in question my sense of self-importance and arrogance in not wanting to be challenged, and my anger stemming from my self-important/self-righteous evaluation of my work performance and the real or imagined insult to my work ethic that was essentially being leveled.

Bottom line: in my heart and mind I was confronted with a boiling stew of sinful reactions to a situation that should be met with patient reliance on God's grace and strength, thankfulness for an occasion to see areas of improvement on the job, and humility to admit my weaknesses and sins.

So on the way home I prayed to the Lord and confessed these sins and meditated on this Scripture. I came to the realization that it's not so much forgiveness of these sins that worries me, it's the ongoing uncleanness of my unrighteousness.

My unrighteous pride and my unrighteous anger still remain under the surface. Yes, I'm sorry I sinned and yes I've confessed it, but I see my propensity to fall right into the same trap again. My pride, anger, and self-righteousness are deep-seated and not going away instantly.

But that's where the blood of the covenant comes in. It's the blood of Christ shed for my justification which also works my sanctification. As I walk in the light of the Gospel and confess my sin, the blood of Jesus cleanses me. This process of my sanctification is a certainty promised by Scripture, but it's not a process that will come on my timetable and conform to my whims. It is all of grace as the Spirit works within me, and as the Father sovereignly wills.

God is faithful and just to forgive me my sins and cleanse me from my unrighteousness. I am called to receive the promise by faith, confessing my sins and trusting in Christ for forgiveness and for the sanctifying grace to grow deeper in Christlike character and mortifying the flesh, dying to sin and self.

God is faithful to the covenant He has written in the blood of the Lamb (I Peter 1:17-19). He is just to forgive me because my sins are all paid for at the cross (Col. 2:13-15).

God is faithful to cleanse me of all unrighteousness because He finishes what He starts. He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6). God is just in cleansing me from all unrighteousness because I am already declared righteous by faith (Rom. 3:26; Phil. 3:8-11) in the finished work of the Son.

I'm called to trust in God's promises and walk openly in the light before Him, confessing and forsaking my sin, trusting in his promise of forgiveness and cleansing.

Praise God for sending his faithful and just Son the Lord Jesus to die in my place as the propitiation for my sins (I John 2:1-2), and who now ever lives to intercede for me (Heb. 7:23-25) as my advocate before the Father!

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1 comments:

Anonymous,  December 26, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

Good post. You are on the right track. One of the unintended consequences of sinning that is largely unknown in the church these days is that every sin that we commit leaves us with a bit of unrighteousness that clings around our flesh. While we are pure and righteous in the heavens through Christ's imputed righteousness, we yet lack the totality of that righteousness here on Earth. This unrighteousness tend to cause us to sin again in the same way, and can become a foothold for Satan. When we specifically confess a sin as measured by God's word we are agreeing with God's heavenly word, and He is then faithful to apply our heavenly righteousness to us on earth by cleansing us of all the unrighteousness of that sin. Part of the path toward sanctification, then, is the confession of every known sin we have ever done. This can be a lengthy process, but it rids us of all that unrighteousness and the tendency that causes us to continue sinning.

Cleansing is also noticeable, because when God cleanses us, the circumstances surrounding that sin tend to dim, its power in us diminishes, and we are soon able to forget it. Try confessing the most egregious sin of anger for which you still have vivid memories - confess it in detail in relation to specific verses that speak against that. Fully own up to it and any related sins (thoughts of vengeance or bitterness, distrust of God, etc.) When you have done this you will have received God's cleansing, and you will notice that the whole thing begins to fade and flatten out, as if it was a color 3D image that has now become a black and white print photo. It will be forgettable. That is cleansing, and once you learn its value you will want to rid yourself of all the unconfessed individual sins you can remember. It is worth it. Be specific, and thorough with your individual sins (have you noticed that in the Bible confession is always of sins, plural not just sin generalities or patterns? We confess individual sins, not sin or sin patterns - patterns are merely made up of many individual sin instances.)

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