A few weeks ago, Pastor Chris Zarbaugh gave what was, in my opinion, the best message on confession that I had ever heard. Here’s the link to that message: Get Rid of Your Baggage. Chris taught on 1 John 1:9, which says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV)
After hearing that message, I was inspired to write about forgiveness, reconciliation and repentance. I wrote about them from a person to person point of view and from what I believe is God’s point of view. Last year, I wrote on repenting (turning to God) but I had yet to address the subject of confession. What does confession have to do with all of this?
In that message a few weeks back, Chris said that to “confess” means “to agree with”. When we go to God in confession, we are agreeing with God. The verse above from the 1st Book of John (1 John 1:9) talks about the very first time that we went to God to ask His forgiveness. That was the time that we decided to follow Jesus. That only happened once.
Every other time that we confess to God, it has nothing to do with forgiveness, but we think it does. We mistakenly think that there is a transaction occurring when we confess. We think we’re bringing our “bucket of sin” to God, which He empties and hands back to us. We live our lives and the bucket fills up again, so we go back to God in confession. And the cycle continues, as if God is a Heavenly Garbage Man, taking our junk week after week after week, right on schedule.
But that’s not what’s happening at all. Chris stressed the fact that no transaction is taking place in confession. There is no bucket to empty. God forgave us 2000 years ago when Jesus died and was resurrected. That “bucket of sin” was emptied and thrown away long before we were born. In confession, we are simply agreeing with God that we turned away from Him and thanking Him for having already forgiven us. In thankfulness, we can turn back to God, knowing that we are in good standing with Him.
All Sons & Daughters say it so beautifully in their song, “Brokenness Aside“:
Will your grace run out
If I let you down
‘Cause all I know
Is how to run
‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing it’s another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
Don’t like that word “sinner”? I didn’t either, but here’s what I found out: A Forgiven Atheist?