“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose].”
1 John 1:9 AMP
This great verse speaks to my present day. One of my favorite Star Trek series is with Captain Jonathon Archer. It is set in the first days, when humans are able to zip through the universe meeting other cultures. They constantly are in conflict and grow and learn. Isn’t that just like us humans? We learn by trial and error and trail and success.
This particular excerpted verse from John’s writing to his sons and daughters speaks to that human quest. John has been through learning face to face with Jesus. He stood at the cross and watched the blood of his cousin and friend splatter to the ground. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was put in his lifelong care. The resurrection and ascension are real events to John witnessed with his own eyes. The early miracle breakout of the believers was personal experience. He participated in the expansion of the church into other countries and served a long life as a leader in the kingdom. Now, he writes a few notes of love and concern before he will be imprisoned for the last time and whisked off to the prison island of Patmos, where he will experience and record the Revelation. This is a man of intense faith based on the words of God and a lifelong walk with the Holy Spirit. Heed them.
If we freely admit that we have sinned.. What an opener for a sentence. Sin is anything done outside of faith. Worry is sin. Getting up in the morning to live our own way instead of His way is sin. Pushing a church agenda based on marketing and personal preference is sin. Building a financially prosperous business based on self fulfillment and wealth accumulation is sin. All of this is sin because it is not done in faith, trusting God and walking according to his plan and way.
If we freely admit that we have sinned… The definition I use for sin is mistaken living and imperfect obedience. We stretch out to do right and do wrong. We live our way and call it God’s way. We fall. We fail. Sometimes, we succeed in the eyes of the world and make God cry at our selfishness and greed mentality. Get all you can. Put it in a can. Sit on the can. That sentence might describe our 401k strategies and slithering sumptuous pride at high performing economic markets while ignoring the pain of those that have no means to participate. We should freely admit that we have sinned.
If we freely admit that we have sinned… Sin is rebellion. This is the one we think most about when we think sin. We like to ignore those other modes of sin and park here. Of course, we can avoid most blatant rebellion. After all, we did not murder or commit adultery or lie intentionally or worship an idol or even miss Sunday services without a big excuse. Or did we. Jesus deflates that aversion by picking adultery as a target example. He says if you let lust take you on a fantasy trip involving another, you have violated the heart problem of adultery. That could be 3 minutes of pornography. Right? Oops. The arrow to the liver brings us down.
If we freely admit that we have sinned…. Sin is aversion. God does have a plan for you life. God has a plan for every minute of your life. And then we run a different direction. We consume ourselves with books and pundits and memes to solidify our search in a different direction than His will for us. We master a trade for which we were never crafted and say, “Surely, I trust it to Him so He will bless me in my disobedience.” We are flawed and failed and that is what makes us human. The question is will we take the next step to grow. There is no condemnation in being a flawed and failed human. John lets us know that it is normal.
Confess our sins… Confession clears the path and sets the tone for growth. Get honest with another human and with God. Put down the pride and get real. This does not mean continue to live in the sin. That is not the intent. To be a Sunday Baptist that drinks to be drunk on Saturday and smiles all dressed up on Sunday is not the goal. To be a weekend Pentecostal that manipulates in the market all week and dances and shouts on Sunday is not the goal. To be a confessional Catholic that lives like hell to slide behind the shut door with the priest and get absolution and a penance is not the goal. The goal is an everyday acknowledgement of human frailty and a pursuit of getting stronger and stronger not hiding under the invisible cloak of grace and forgiveness. And that takes an honest life with others and our self.
Here we find a great definition of grace. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. He sets us on the right course with no shame or condemnation. He strengthens with character the area in which we have continued to slip. He wipes off the after effect, the blood and mud and sand and gravel into which we have crashed, and stands us back up. As a child, I loved getting on the back of one of those old tricycles with a platform on the rear. They were the early day skateboard. And they were deadly, which is why you don’t see them anymore. One foot on the platform, hands on the bars, and use the other foot to push off and gain speed. What a ride! One day, I decided to take a ride down a steep hill. Somehow, I forgot about how to stop the ride and just plunged forward. The exhilarating ride was greater than any roller coaster. The rush of air across my face was great. And then the bottom of the hill that ended in an almost 90 degree turn to the right looked up at me an laughed. I tried to loose a foot from the platform and make the turn so I could gradually slowdown on the coming flat road. The force of my speed and weight prevailed and I flew tumbling over and over into the gravel and roadside brush. Man, that hurt. There were scratches and blood and bruises that could not be hidden from my mom when I went home for supper. The undeniable marks of my mistake had to be confessed. The gravel needed picked out of my elbows and knees and ointment applied for healing and avoiding infection.
Confession allows others to pick out the gravel and apply the ointment. We want to do it alone. But, we might not know which ointment to apply. We can get it wrong. A counselor who counsels himself has a fool for a client. We don’t need to hear, ”Don’t do that again.” But we need to hear, “Don’t do that again.” So the next time, I drug my foot a little during the ride down to decrease the speed and ensure a safe turn. Of course that was not so cool on my shoes and mom and I needed to have another talk. Gradual growth.
Summary: Admit your humanity and lack of faith. Confess your mistakes to others and God. Receive the correction and healing touch. Grow stronger in character. Be a human. God created you to grow in faith like one as you explore the universe.