Do we have to ask forgiveness for each sin we commit?
[I am writing to born again believers.]
“Kelli & Scott visit Cooper in Bamberg, Germany”
Does 1 John 1:9 teach a confess-to-be-forgiven theology? What if in ignorance we forget to confess a sin? Does this disqualify us from the kingdom of God? Does God keep a huge tally sheet of our sins, which can only be erased by our asking Him to? Can a believer die with an unconfessed sin and still go to heaven? (So what do you say to the mom who’s Christian daughter committed suicide?) Did Jesus become sin so we might become more sin-focused and judgment-fearing?
There seems to me to be a disconnect between what we claim to believe and what we confess. I’m surprised how many Christians cannot answer Jesus correctly if He were to ask, “Why should I let you into heaven?” We say that Jesus died for all our sins, but then we live in anxiety that we might commit one. We know we cannot get into heaven without Jesus’ blood, but then we worry that we might somehow stand condemned come judgment day. Relax!
“And inasmuch asit isappointed for men to die once and after thiscomesjudgment,so Christ also, having beenoffered once tobear the sins of many, will appeara second time forsalvationwithoutreference tosin, to those whoeagerly await Him”
(Heb. 9:27-28). “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (10:14).
There will NOT be another accounting for sin in heaven. Neither will there be another sacrifice. It is finished! The believer need not fear on judgment day. Christ put an end to the power and penalty of sin on the cross, so why do we remain so preoccupied with it? To be clear, think of the cross. As I explain in more detail in my book The Mysterical Life, the cross answers all of life’s deepest questions. The vertical line represents our relationship with God and the horizontal line represents our earthly life, and the Kingdom of God is where heaven and earth collide.
As we walk along this earthly axis (horizontal), we meet Jesus at an intersection that leads to life (vertical). Jesus is the Door through which we get into heaven and heaven gets into us. Christianity is a relationship established by grace through faith, “thatif you confess with your mouth JesusasLord, andbelieve in your heart thatGod raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;for with the heart a person believes,resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). Notice there is no mention of confessing sin to God. We confess that what the Father did through Jesus was enough! We cannot add to that by any earthly activity.
So why do we focus so much on confessing our sins to God? Shouldn’t we be confessing that Jesus is the substitute, propitiation, and remedy for our sin? Are we subtly tilting the cross as if to make a “stairway to heaven,” adding a “work” to righteousness? Watch out! Slipping on self-righteous stairs is painful and the higher you climb, the farther you fall. Confess your sins to a brother or sister and confess to God that you are a new creation, holy, blameless, forgiven, redeemed, etc.
Dare you let others think that you believe you’re clean, perfected, holy, blameless, beyond reproach (no one is able to bring a charge against you!), and acceptable to the Father? “Oh no! That would sound far too arrogant and would draw attention to myself!” you say. (We really don’t want people inspecting our behavior anyway.) So instead, we publically declare our “sinner state” with a self-inflating confession and a little self-deprivation to go with it. Now who’s in focus? Still YOU. Gotcha! Does holding on to your old identity somehow explain or excuse your present behavior? Why do sincere believers insist on labeling themselves by their guilty conscience instead of by God’s decree?
What sounds humble before an assembly of saints (Calling yourself a “sinner-goat”), is actually an offense to the Savior. Jesus didn’t become sin so you could be called a sinner. He exchanged your sinner state for sainthood, so every time you call yourself a sinner, you resurrect what He put to death. You inadvertently inflate your own means of righteousness—your attempt at perfect performance—above His only acceptable way—Christ’s performance at the cross.
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:21).
Could it be that confession has become a “legalistic” approach to sanctification? If forgiveness is contingent upon your confession, then perhaps it has. I’m not saying we ignore our sinful behavior and “abuse grace.” I’m saying grace is abused more by our continuous focus on our sinful behavior instead of God’s matchless grace (and His power inYou to overcome it)! (Rm. 5:20)
No one likes a hypocrite. I get it. But no one likes a goody-goody or a steady sinner either. So whether we’re under-performing or over-performing, we need to just quit performing altogether and start confessing. Say what God says about you. Believe what His Word declares. “For throughthe grace given to me I say to everyone among younot to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted toeach a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). Right believing will produce right behavior super-naturally.
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking rightly. So be transparent—boast in your weakness so that the power of Christ may dwell in you (2 Cor. 12:9)—because you are already forgiven. Proclaim that! This is actually a great incentive to stop hiding and start confessing to one another that in the flesh is no good thing (Rom. 7:18), but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (8:6); the first is true, but the second is the truth. Confess the truth and be free. Jesus Christ has made this possible:
“Therefore from now on we recognize no oneaccording to the flesh…Therefore if anyone isin Christ,he isa new creature;the old things passed away; behold, new things have come…He made Him whoknew no sinto besin on our behalf,
so that we might become therighteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:16, 17, 21).
In Matt 22, a great King invited everyone to a banquet feast. Many accepted the invitation, but when some were found not properly suited, they were cast into utter darkness with anguishing regret. “What a set up!” you might think. “How unfair of that King!” you may gripe. Yet with the invitation came the clothes to adorn. What the King required, the King supplied. The Father has required righteousness and has adorned us with Christ’s (Gal. 3:27). All may come, but only dressed in white—only in Christ.