Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Confession and Repentance

It is hard to confess sin. It is harder to repent of sin.

It is relatively easy to admit that one struggles with a sin, but it is monumentally difficult to attack sin with the viciousness it deserves.

It is far harder to hate sin than to admit sin. It is so much easier to make light of our foibles than to feel the weightiness of sin.

You can know that you sin without repenting. You can even hate your sin, in one sense, without repenting.

To weep over sin is not intended to be a mere metaphor, but a real occurrence.

Yet to weep over sin requires that we be uncomfortable with ourselves.

We must die to our old selves, and the weight of this metaphor has been lost when we kill only our old fingernails and our old hair and our old earlobes. We must kill our old selves to the core. Our deaths must be so deep that we feel the pain of death. We are so sinful that we think our sins are required for our self-hood, and it is that self which must be killed.

We will not kill our sins until we recognize that there is a life after the death. We will not fight sin until we see that the fight can be won. We must be comfortable with our sins in the same way that we are comfortable with the fact that grass grows. We know that we can deal with the grass, but we do not permit it to grow too tall. It is not the comfort of a bed, but the comfort of knowing what to do with it. We kill it, even if it kills us. And so we will live all the more, because the death of sin is expunged.

We need not fear sin anymore than we fear a dead grizzly. It is ugly, and we should remove it, but it cannot harm us.

To merely admit sin, and then go on sinning, is to let sin live. To admit a struggle is not, actually, to struggle. To say "I struggle with..." but to continue in it without a fight is to lie. Too often, I suspect, saying "I struggle with this" is merely saying "I do this, and I know I shouldn't, but don't be surprised if I do it more." That is not struggling. Struggling against sin is deeper and harder and far more exhausting, but in the end it is far more refreshing. It is struggling for a breath of air. It is struggling for more of the God who gives life because he has already given us life.

To struggle against sin is to depend on the Spirit of God, and to hate sin as God hates sin, whether we recognize its weighty oppressiveness or not, and be moved to kill the old self because we love the life of Christ which lives in us, because we love the Lord who died that we might live.

We confess our acceptable sins, and then joke about them. Are we too afraid that we will fail in the fight against sin to begin? Yet our Lord has already defeated sin, and he is with us to conquer sin. Are we too attached to our old selves? O, come, lop off that gangrenous arm you call yourself! Live in the light, the life which God provides, which has been made manifest in Christ. It is so much better to live than to die. You are not that gangrenous arm, you are in Christ, a new creation, there is a far better self to be, one so far beyond your imaginings. If you kill the old self, you get a far better one.

You will not kill that old self all at once, but you must be killing it all. We must not be content with our present state of sanctification. We are but small saplings, and we must grow into Christ's likeness--that great tree from whom we have life.

I do not write this that you may have guilt, but that you may have be truly free of guilt in the eyes of God. Repent and believe in the gospel: that Christ died for such ugly, dead, wretched beasts as we were, that we might have life and the beauty of God in us. Is the promise so little? Press on, for the joy set before you, to the high calling of the Lord!

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