How often do you admit you are wrong, that you have done something you need to apologize for or ask forgiveness for? For most of us, it is very seldom. However, as Christians, that process forms the central tenant of our view of repentance, since without the admission of wrong, there is no need of contrition, nothing to confess and seek forgiveness for. That was I had to face up to today and I hope I dealt, am dealing, and will deal with it in the future effectively and without equivocation.
Being wrong is hard enough to deal with. Doing the wrong thing is even harder to face up to. This problem, however, is universal; its being effectively dealt with, sadly is not. It appears to be rare enough that the Apostle John had to tell us:
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:10
John was forced to say that because he not only knew the problem was part of our fallen nature: the innate inclination to deny failure, to hide our sin, even from ourselves, but he could see it happening in the Church, despite our new life in Christ. The reality is that we all sin, every day. True, we may not murder, or rob, or rape, or engage in adultery. But we gossip, besmirch other’s character, hold onto grudges (refuse forgiveness), appropriate what is not ours (including non-tangible things like credit for what others really did), and exhibit a myriad of other failures that don’t stand out like the big Ten (Commandments that is…). As much as we dislike admitting it, we are very far from being as good as we could or should be.
Here is were the biblical assumption that we love ourselves (Ephesians 5:29) comes into play. The new man, the new creation in Jesus Christ is supposed to love with a godly love (agape). If we really are willing to sacrifice for ourselves (agape), that sacrifice should be towards the best possible result for ourselves–why waste our limited resources on things that will not last? So, what do we need to sacrifice to produce the best long term result?
That is a good question. If we take John’s argument to heart, it would be our sin and the ego that protects it. After all, who when sick with an infection who would resist taking the antibiotics that would kill the disease? Our health is our main concern. John tells us that our spiritual health is absolutely dependent on admission of sin, repentance and forgiveness. Why do we resist? If we really love (agape) ourselves, then why aren’t we doing what will bring us spiritual health and return the best possible result?
Another good question, one we each need to answer for ourselves, for only we (besides God) have a glimpse into our own heart. Whatever the current answer, the future one should be to always break down that wall of resistance and free the prisoner (our soul) from the debt of sin and degradation. That is one of the sought after yields of redemption and it is time we who are proclaimed Christians begin seriously indulging in its fruit.
Therefore my sisters and brothers, I challenge you to get out that maul and join me in dismantling that wall. We all want forgiveness and acceptance, so let’s do what is necessary to get that need fulfilled. I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them…