The Greatest Commandment
In the gospel of Matthew a lawyer came to Jesus and asked Him, what the greatest commandment was. Jesus answered him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:37. Clearly, this means that we should love God with our whole being. We should make nothing a priority above serving God. However, each one of us fall short of this calling to love God with everything. Every one of us will sin against God by not putting Him first at some point in our lives. Romans 3:10 says, “as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Each one of us are sinners that need to be saved. Because sin happens, confession must happen. Have you made a habit of confessing your sins to God? It is very important to realize your weaknesses and take responsibility for them. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus expectation is for His disciples to be people of prayer. He doesn’t say, “if you pray,” but rather “when you pray” you should pray in a specific way. In the model prayer sometimes called the “Our Father” Jesus says at one point we should pray “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Mt. 6:12) The word “debts” here means “sins.” Jesus says that we should pray for forgiveness of our sins and also forgive those who have sinned against us. Confessing those sins during prayer is one healthy way for us to humble ourselves before Almighty God.
I thought that I was already forgiven?
You might be thinking, “why should I confess my sins if I have already been forgiven through what Jesus accomplished for me on the cross?” This is a great question. It is true that when you believe the gospel and are born again, you receive forgiveness for your sins, past present and future. Jesus last words on the cross were “tetelestai” meaning “paid in full.” Your sins were totally paid for on the cross, but as a way of continuing a healthy relationship with God you and I must keep sensitive hearts to our sin. Confession is a way of us acknowledging before God our weaknesses and our continued need for him. If we don’t confess and take responsibility for our sins we can easily become hard-hearted toward our sin. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Sin deceives us and the longer we go without confessing, the more we allow our heart to become hardened to sin. In our Old Testament’s we read the story of King Saul’s life. King Saul is a perfect example of what happens to someone who refuses to acknowledge sin in their life. After David killed Goliath, Saul became very jealous of David. Saul’s sin of jealousy had taken such root in his life that on many occasions he tried to murder David without cause (I Sam. 18:11, 13, 17, 20; I Sam. 19:1, 10, 11, 18). Saul knew that he was sinning against David and even admitted it (I Sam. 26:21), but he never turned to God in confession and repentance. Confession keeps the lines of communication open between you and God. In church life we take the Lord’s Supper several times a year. The bread and juice serve to remind us of the body and blood of Jesus. When we eat the bread and juice we recognize the great sacrifice that Jesus made in our behalf. Confession also helps to remind us of our need for relationship with Jesus. It allows us to get spiritually clean before God. One time when I was a kid it had just rained really hard. The ditch across the street had totally filled up with water. My friends and I were running our bikes off in this ditch for a couple of hours having a blast! We were totally covered in mud. I remember that my mom wouldn’t let me in the house until I had completely hosed off with water outside. Being muddy didn’t mean that I wasn’t my mother’s son anymore. It did mean that as long as I was covered in mud, our relationship couldn’t be quite the same. The mud had come between us. I wasn’t free anymore to run around in the house until the mud had been hosed off. Confession works a lot like the water hose outside my house did. When we sin, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t children of God anymore. It does however, limit the relationship. Our memory verse says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confess your sins to God and be cleansed again.
When we sin, we naturally want to hide from God. Our sin becomes like a wall we build between ourselves and God. When we enjoy certain sins and are unwilling to admit that they are a problem we deceive ourselves. I John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Notice that it says, “we deceive ourselves.” It doesn’t say that we deceive God. God knows the truth and it is impossible to hide from Him. The great historian Herodotus said that the walls of the ancient city of Babylon were 80 feet thick! Imagine how difficult it would be to break through a wall that thick! Over time our continued sins in certain areas build up in to thick walls because of our unwillingness to confess them. Over time it becomes more and more difficult to admit fault and take responsibility. Confession tears walls down. Confession allows you to live in relationship with God. Those walls of sin that we place between ourselves and God are walls for us, but God sees right through them. The scriptures teach us that nothing can be hidden from God. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” All things are open and laid bare before God. You and I cannot hide behind a wall from Almighty God. We might as well as quickly as possible confess whatever sins are hindering our relationship with Him and remove those walls. A great bible scholar and pastor named Augustine from the 4th century had a favorite verse out of the Proverbs. It says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” To conceal a sin is to try to hide it. This verse says that whoever wants to find compassion from God must confess and turn away from sin.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”I John 1:9
Questions to consider:
- Is it possible for us to love God with our whole being, or will we fail at this?
- Does Jesus have anything to say to us about confessing our sins through prayer?
- If Jesus has already forgiven me for all of my sins, why should I confess sins that I committed today?
- What did King Saul try to do to David when he refused to confess and repent of the sin of jealousy?
Things to remember:
- Ongoing confession for the Christian is healthy and cleanses us from sins that we commit.
- Unconfessed sin can lead to a hardened heart.
- When we harden our heart to God’s truth and don’t confess sin, we build walls between us and God.
- No sin that we ever commit is hidden from God. We should quickly take responsibility for our sins through confession.