Today’s reading is Luke 13.
How would you rank yourself on your spiritual discipline of confession? I think both individuals and churches often may be extreme in one way or another around the focus of confession and the fact we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Often times we can have lots of confession and focus on all our wrong doings and forget that because of the cleansing blood of Christ we are no longer in darkness and can live life forgiven with peace and joy (1 John 1:7). I’ve said this before in prior posts, but Jesus was not just nailed to the cross just to forgive our sins..the story doesn’t end there. He was resurrected on Easter so that we might live life to the fullest knowing that we are no longer dead to our sin. Jesus says Himself in John 10:10 that He came to give us life! He’s not still nailed on the cross so let’s not live like it. However, just confessing our sins regularly and knowing we are forgiven does not give us permission to keep on sinning over and over either..more to come on this. Lastly, in my humble opinion, many individuals and churches talk about of the saving grace of Jesus, but have lost emphasis on the spiritual discipline of confession where we specifically name our known sins and ask for forgiveness of sins both known and unknown.
It is crazy how God works because this topic is something that has been on my mind for the past few months and wouldn’t you know it….my assigned verses and this week’s sermon in church were on this very topic. In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus emphasizes the importance of repentance because without it we will all die and are going to the same place because we are ALL sinners (Romans 6:23). He also makes it clear that when bad things happen to us, God does not make it happen as a punishment for our sins. This is another topic in and of itself..see John 9:2-3 and Romans 8:1. But back to repentance which is from the Greek word matonia. It doesn’t just mean confession. It means a change in one’s life…to go in the other opposite direction of sin and go towards God. Jesus is telling us it is not ok for us to just go on living life in a sinful way because we know we are forgiven. Changing how we live is critical part of being a Christ follower. 1 John 1:6 says that if have fellowship with Him while still walking in the darkness we are lying and don’t practice the truth. Does that mean we will not sin when we are a Christ-follower? No..we are human and will mess up again, but we should be able to proclaim that we are working on it. 1 John 3:6 tells us that no one who abides in Him keeps on sinning because they know they will be forgiven anyway.
So, can we call ourselves a Christ follower without the spiritual habit or discipline of confession? Can we go to Heaven without confessing our sins? 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Again in 1 John 1:10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” In between these verses, John talks about the importance of confession for forgiveness in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I raise the prior questions not to get into a debate, but rather to emphasize that I believe God calls us in his Word to confess our sins. If we do not, we are likely being untruthful with ourselves about our sin problem and need for Jesus’ saving grace on the cross. It doesn’t seem to me that one can call himself or herself a Christ follower without confessing that one is a sinner themselves and the need for Him as their savior. My understanding of the Gospel is that coming to this realization, asking for forgiveness for all sins (even once), and believing in Him is the ticket to Heaven. At the same time, I believe the spiritual habit of confessing our sins and naming those we are aware of individually through calling them out in prayer is what will truly help us change the way we live and the direction of our lives as Jesus speaks of through the Greek word matonia. This is tough at times, but we know that God knows anyway, and I believe our sins continue to erode us and bother us when we don’t name them. Naming our sins in prayer to Him will bring them to light, make us feel better, and also increase the likelihood of changing the way we live in the way He calls us.
Lastly, what about those who are not a Christ follower yet and have not prayed to Jesus asking for forgiveness and His grace? Well, it is interesting that immediately after Luke 13:1-5 where Jesus speaks on the importance of repentance, He then tells a parable in Luke 13:6-9 about a fig tree not yielding fruit. However, the vine dresser gave it multiple years and chances to yield fruit before finally cutting it down. We all will eventually perish as Jesus speaks of in Luke 13:1-5, and He we won’t have forever, but He gives us time to turn to Him and His open loving and forgiving arms.
Let each us reflect on where we are on our walk with Him and whether confession, repentance, or both is something we need to work on. Let us know we are all a work in progress as we try to grow closer to Him. But above all, let us go with peace and joy today knowing that God did not send his One and Only Son to condemn the world, but so that the world may be saved through Him (John 3:17).