God’s Word for today comes from a question I was asked this morning: Is it necessary to repeatedly ask God, time after time for forgiveness for the same stupid behaviors of the past? My Faith leads me to believe that God has forgiven me because I have changed and I should trust these feelings yet I seem compelled to ask, again and again.
This is a great question! The answer is that once we have sincerely dealt with our sin, we learn from it and move forward. We know we have taken care of business when we have admitted our wrongdoing which is accomplished through the act of confession. We can let go of particular sins we confess when we have successfully repented of them. This means we do not want to repeat them, when possible we have asked forgiveness from those we have offended, and have done what we could to have made amends by diminishing the damage we may have caused.
There is a person I know I injured 42 years ago and have for 30 years attempted to locate on order to confess my sin to them. I have not been successful finding them so have been brought to the place where I must leave it in God’s hands. In the movie Flatliners (1990 original version) medical interns took turns stopping their hearts and stretching the limits of how long they could stay dead before being revived.
The purpose behind their dangerous experiment was to discover if there was anything beyond death. Each person brought back with them awareness of sins from their past which dramatically haunted them and obstructed their lives. Each had to come to grips with their pasts. One had to locate the person they had offended and apologize. They were freed from guilt and it brought resolution to the person offended. I share this only as an illustration of the need and power of dealing with our sin in a healthy way. God wants us to be healthy and fruitful.
The Bible states that God forgives our sin tossing it from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103.12). Now that is what God does for us by forgiving us and we must do the same. We cannot do this successfully unless we deal with our sin. This haunting is more prevalent depending upon how grievous the sin, however a history of repeated offences no matter the size can collectively form a destructive pattern (moral addiction) from which we can only be freed when we admit them and deal with them. Identifying and righting wrongs has been part of the successful program of AA. It works in other areas of life as well.
Jesus stated that should we believe we have injured someone it is our responsibility to approach and make right the situation before we worship God (Mt 5.23,24). God wants us to love him first which results in our loving our neighbor. Loving our neighbor means doing no harm to them. Making confession to those we have offended soon after our knowledge of our offense is the only way to approach a holy God with a clear conscience and is the best offering we can make.
As I wrote yesterday there are times we must deal with our past sins in a different way because of the potential of greater harm our confession may cause – but they must be dealt with. The Holy Spirit will show us the way as might good counsel. Some sin may seem less consequential but remember all sin no matter its size is offensive to God and requires confession to God and repentance (Ro. 3.23 and Ro. 6.23). The serious attempt to rectify behavior is honoring of God and healthy for us.
God wants us to be healthy and fruitful. Fruitful! Now that’s a good word. The question we need to ask is whether we have changed. Does the moral choice bother us? Have we stopped repeating it? Have we grown into the person today who lives a better morally and spiritually with God. Are we evidencing the “Fruit of the Spirit” the Apostle Paul describes in Galatians 5.22 in increasing measure? If we do then we can leave our sin behind.
There is much to be said about forgiveness of sin and how to be free and my attempt here shall be insufficient. God has disclosed the way of freedom in his book and as we live in his Word we uncover new dimensions and counsel for healthy living. I would leave us with the remembrance of Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery found in John 8. After releasing her from the condemnation she rightfully deserved (as did her partner) he spoke to her saying “Go, and sin no more.” The end of the journey in dealing with sin is to free us from its bondage which means its repetition.
Whatever it takes to be free is what matters. One who asks the question is the person who is on the journey of holiness. The one whom Jesus sets free is free indeed. (John 8.36)