In the previous blog on confession, we talked about how repentance is a grace from God. It deals with the seriousness of our sin without us having to atone for it ourselves. It is God’s way to both lop off the weed that has shown itself, and remove the root underneath. Repentance isn’t pleasant but it is the path to freedom, and it is one way God transforms us into beautiful reflections of his glory.
If we have not hardened our hearts, then sin will be followed by conviction from the Spirit. That is a gift from God and a moment of truth too often missed. If we accept conviction and turn to God in confession, it may feel like a moment of failure, but in reality it is the vital step toward victory in Christ. I suspect that is the moment that grace rushes toward us from heaven.
I suspect part of that first rush is not the assurance of forgiveness though (that comes a little later). If we are willing to see it, the first work of the Spirit is more likely to help us see more deeply into the truth. If we are willing to let Him uncover things hiding in our hearts and show us the consequences of our sin, and then everything can be brought into the light and cleansed.
Think about that familiar verse in 1 John 1:9. John says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive.” That assures us our forgiveness is based on His commitment to honour the death of Christ; who He sent because of His merciful goodness. But the verse continues: “ . . . and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Notice that the goal is not to just be declared, ‘not guilty’ but to be changed. God does not want us to keep ruining our lives (and injuring others). Just two verses beforehand, John exhorts the believers to “walk in the light as he [Jesus] is in the light.” If we don’t face our sins and failures we are giving them the opportunity to grow in the dark.
We respond to the Spirit’s conviction by agreeing with Him. Accepting the truth about our sin is the essence of confession. We tell the truth about what we have done, why, and its consequences. We accept the truth about what is lurking deep down—not in order to feel badly, nor to prove our sincerity. We accept the truth because the truth about our sin can set us free. The depth of our repentance determines the depth of our transformation. When we confess we are not just forgiven, we are cleansed.
As we walk through the process of repentance (conviction and confession), a veil is taken away and the light shines. We see him better, understand him more, and that joyful encounter transforms us.
We emerge from the process free from guilt and regret, praising God, walking in the light of his presence, and a little more like him.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)