When was your Last Confessional?
If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Recognizing that we are in fact sinful and that we fall short of the glory of God remains a fundamental element in our ongoing acceptance of the Gospel. We needed saving because we were lost in our sins, and it was impossible for us to secure the way out. We needed Jesus, and we still need Jesus.
John is speaking to Christians. Confessing our sin is not a once and done incident. There remains a continual need for Christ by the basic fact that we constantly need forgiveness. Daily we are faced with the wages of sin. Confession provides awareness of that fact; that I do the things that I do not want – though I know right, I still fail. Possessing a continuous disposition of confession keeps us humble, dependent, and appreciative of God. We sin in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We neglect the good, sometimes out of intention and sometimes out of ignorance, but our spirit of confession keeps us constantly relying upon the grace of God.
However, confession of our sinfulness in general is not always enough. There is also a time for confession of specific sins. I understand that I am sinful, but what have I precisely done to become such. Both David and Paul acknowledged their exact sins. Doing so makes us more aware of our exact actions and the extensive ramifications of them. An expressed knowledge of what we have explicitly done turns our heart from such things and calls us to despise that darkness just as God does. Thus also perhaps helping us see all sin for what it truly is.
David’s sin remained ever before him, and Paul spoke of being the chief of sinners. You don’t completely forget the past when you are specific, which is not a bad thing. But do not become overwrought with much sorrow. If so, then perhaps either our heart is condemning us because it knows that we have not truly confessed and repented, or we have not accepted God’s forgiveness due to unbelief (God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him). By remembering specific sin we have not forgotten of what we were purged, and we press on toward our high calling, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. All the while, humility and dependence are produced along with the great appreciation that while we ourselves committed such sins, Christ died for us out of love.
So how long has it been since your last confessional? The great High Priest is quietly listening with merciful intent.
Andrew R. Lehmann