“Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy ….He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This is how John Ortberg begins his chapter on “Confession” in “The Life You’ve Always Wanted”. This is the book that I have chosen for our Europe backpacking teams to read and discuss on the trips this summer.
We ALL sin. We ALL know that we ALL sin. It is just hard to admit at times, and especially hard to admit to others. We know that God knows. We know that God sees. We know that God is not shocked or surprised. We know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and paid the penalty that we ALL deserve because of our sin. We know that God forgives and we know that He is gracious. BUT – it just seems that “knowing” and actually “applying” are very different things.
Ortberg says that our “inability to accept the reality of forgiveness is the reason that God has given us the practice of confession.” (p.121) He suggests the following “six step process for spiritual stain removal”
- Preparation – ask the Holy Spirit for help to remind us of our sins
- Self-examination – take time to reflect – think about various categories of sin (pride, lust, envy, greed, gluttony, etc)
- Perception – what happened? why did it happen?
- A new feeling – try to enter into God’s pain for sin – how does sin make God feel?
- A new promise – repentance – make a commitment/promise to NOT
- Healing grace – believe and accept God’s grace and promise of forgiveness.
We all know I John 1:9 -” If we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
We MUST believe that God actually means what HE says and rejoice in HIS gracious forgiveness of our sin.