More Than You Know

This will be the final lesson in Confession 201. First we learned that we should confess before being confronted. Second we learned that we should not just regret our sin, but repent from it. Don’t keep sitting in the puddle feeling bad.

For the third lesson we look to Luke 7. A Pharisee named Simon asked Jesus to eat with him, and while Jesus was at Simon’s house a prostitute came and wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. The Pharisee was not impressed.

Then Jesus told Simon a short parable:

A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more? (Luke 7:41)

The answers was obvious. Simon said the one who loved more would be the one who had the larger debt cancelled. Jesus agreed, and applied the comparison to the Pharisee and the woman. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (verse 47).

Why did Jesus tell this to Simon? What lesson did he want Simon to learn? The point was not to help Simon see that Jesus forgives big sinners, though that is true. The point was to help Simon see that he was also a big sinner. Jesus wasn’t saying that it was okay for Simon to love little because he only had a little debt of sin. Jesus was saying that Simon needed to see how large his debt was.

So when you confess you sin, go into it knowing that you probably need more forgiveness than you know.

Get Out of the Puddle

Last week I gave lesson one in Confession 201. It’s the next level up of confession, though you can get into this class without prerequisites. Some may be more ready to receive these lessons even if they couldn’t explain some of the basics.

Lesson one was: don’t wait for someone else to confront you before you confess. Be glad if a true brother does, but don’t depend on needing to be told. Your sin is yours to confess whether or not you’re confronted, and sin is not measured by someone else’s response.

Here is lesson two: don’t spend time regretting your sin, repent from it right away. There is follow up.

Jesus said, “blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4), and this sorrow is over sin. There is a type of good conviction, a “godly grief” that is appropriate. But grief feelings are not the goal.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief….For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

In the previous exhortation I referred to a preacher—one that I appreciate in many ways—who said that if he were approached by someone regarding his failure to apply his sermon text, he would “regretfully agree that he probably had.” Not only is this wishy-washy, it’s also not confession. It is also not gospel. This is like hanging your head and waiting for someone to hang a millstone around your neck.

Regret and sorrow and humiliation isn’t where we’re trying to get to. We hope to get out of all that by confessing our sin, and then we must immediately turn away from it. Don’t just say that you regret something, resolve to stop doing it. You regret to be sitting in the mud puddle. No, brothers, get out of the puddle, or your britches will still be sopping and soiled. You who believe are forgiven because Jesus died, and you can obey because Jesus lives.

Confession 201

Almost six years ago I did a series of exhortations called Confession 101. There are multiple basic truths about confession that most Christians aren’t trained in. Confession and repentance are a crucial part of the believers’ life, not just at the beginning when one becomes a believer.

This exhortation is a 200 level lesson, and I’ve got another one for next week. These aren’t graduate level, but they do seem to require a little more maturity.

Here goes: don’t depend on someone else to tell you that you’ve sinned.

I was recently listening to a pastor, the sort of pastor who loves the Bible and the truth and the gospel, introduce his sermon text as one that he realized might be used against him. He admitted that the passage made him feel uncomfortable and acknowledged that his listeners might wonder about his application of it. That admission seemed to open the door of humility.

But the closest he got to saying he had disobeyed the passage was in his comment about being uncomfortable. He followed that with a comment similar to this: “If you were to approach me and point out my past failings I would regretfully have to agree with you.” I didn’t take him as saying that he would regret his agreement more than regretting his sin, but I did wonder, why make someone else ask at all?

Accountability is a good thing. Spiritual friends and fellow members of the body, mothers and fathers and siblings, should not fear asking you or confronting you about sin. There are times when we don’t see our sin; we can have blind spots. But there are plenty of other times when we know we were sinning before we see how the other person responds, even if they don’t respond negatively (because they aren’t sinning).

Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16), and when possible, do it before you need to be confronted.