Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
At the risk of losing all respect, I’ll confess something to you: in high school I was in marching band. Yep, I was a band nerd. Please keep your snickering to a minimum. Now, one of the “challenges” to being in marching band is staying in step with the time of the music. You know, “left…left…left, right, left.” Every so often you would see someone be out of step. And you didn’t have to be a marching band aficionado to pick out this individual. He or she was the one doing things wrongly. Everyone else was doing one thing, and he or she was doing something else.
So what happens in our spiritual life when we look down and realize that we are out of step with God? We kind of have two choices: we can repent and turn away from the wrong that we are doing, or we can keep on keepin’ on. But if we make the decision to keep doing what is outside of what God wants for us, we will shoulder the responsibility for the consequences (see, for example, James 1:15, 4:17). On the other hand, Scripture says, “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness“ (1 John 1:9). If confession is truly our response for when we are “out of step,” then this will lead to a life marked by prayers for forgiveness and prayers of confession. And as Greg pointed out this weekend, all of us stand to learn a thing or two about prayer. So when it comes to this subject there are some questions that might come up. I want to discuss two of them briefly.
“What’s the point of asking for forgiveness if I know that God has already forgiven me?”
This is a great question. If you are a Christian, believing that what Jesus did on the cross makes you–a sinner–right before a holy God, and you have asked God for His forgiveness, then you do already have God’s forgiveness–now and forever. However, the reason why we confess our individual sins to God is not that He may grant us salvation all over again, but because we value our relationship with Him, and we want to acknowledge that we have been out of bounds of what He wants for us. This can, by His grace, move us forward in and toward righteousness.
“Can I now do whatever I want, since God will forgive me anyway?”
The answer to this question all comes down to love. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we love God, we won’t be comfortable living in a lifestyle of sin for long. Paul even speaks further on this subject in the book of Romans, when he asks, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” (Romans 6:1, NASB) If we truly love God, will we honestly want to take advantage of His generous grace? I don’t think so. Instead, let’s practice confessing our sin to God and learning to obey His Spirit’s leading when temptations come. Remember, staying in step with God takes energy and awareness…being sensitive to His direction and nudges…confessing that which needs to be confessed…and then moving forward in God’s grace. To do this, we must stay prayerful and watchful.
1. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says that we should “examine ourselves.” If you are a Christ-follower, you should periodically take an internal spiritual inventory. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any unconfessed sins on your heart, and then confess them to God and repent of those things. Here are a couple of questions to help you start considering this: Is there anything in your life that doesn’t need to be there? Is there anything that you are holding back from God [e.g. time, service, finances, job, family, thoughts]?
2. Remember that confession without Jesus is pointless. If we believe the Gospel, we must remind ourselves that Jesus did everything we need to be made right with God. The reason we do things in obedience to God is not to appease God, but out of love for what He has done for us. What are some tangible things that can help you best remember this?
3. Another part of confession can sometimes be making things right between you and others. Are there any barriers you have put up, things left unsaid, or just some unfinished business in general between you and someone else?
Lord, thank You for Your promise to forgive us of our sins if we lay them before You. We are so desperately in need of Your forgiveness and Your grace. Would You convict me of the sins on my heart, and give me the courage to lay them before You? And if there is any sin that has broken a relationship in my life, would You show it to me? Help me to make things right in that relationship. Amen.
Mid Rivers Kidz Coordinator