Confess your faults one to another forgiving one another….
Confession and forgiveness are two key components of the Christian faith because they directly flow out of our life and fellowship with Christ. The entrance into the gospel is the command to repent and believe, for one to repent, one must confess wrong doing and be offered forgiveness. This is exactly what Jesus came preaching as we see in the gospel accounts especially Mark and Luke. However, it doesn’t end there, it only begins. As Christians we may recognize the foundation that this has in our relationship with God, but how much do we allow it to flow out into our relationships with others. In today’s short post I wanted to reorient us to the importance of confession and repentance in the life of a believer.
Confession opens us up to be known
When we confess our faults to other believers we allow the Lord to speak into the situation with other believers who can hold us accountable and pray for us, through the struggle. By allowing others members of the Christian community into your life you allow them to pray for you and care for you. As one pastor put it “You can’t be fully loved, if you are not fully known.” By opening ourselves up to other believers with our struggles we get to experience the tangible love of Christ all the more as we receive the forgiveness and love from others. If we are in a church that is walking in the truth of the gospel than this shouldn’t be a hard step. Unfortunately, I think many of us don’t trust the spiritual state of our churches enough to allow ourselves to open up to members of it, but this should not be the case, our churches are meant to be the place where the broken come to find the forgiveness of Christ in the lives of other broken people. The church is a place of broken sinners who have found forgiveness in Christ and a new family in the church, where we can be open about or struggles and be encouraged to walk in the Love of Christ and move deeper into sanctification, not perfection, but trust and growth.
Forgiveness frees us from the burden of sin
Along those lines, if one comes to us in confession and repentance, there is no other option but to forgive. There are not nine steps of penance they must walk through to “prove” their “sincerity” as if somehow we are the ones who hold the key to determine the actions of someone’s heart. The Lord in Matthew 18 makes it clear that forgiveness is offered freely no matter how many times one sins against you. Because, at the end of the day, no one will sin against you more than you have sinned against God. I was reminded of this recently when speaking to a church member and she talked about the forgiveness she offered to the people who killed her son. In doing so she trusted the Lord to do a work in her and also in them, understanding that they too were sinners in need of a savior, not more anger and wrath. They were broken people in need of the complete love of Christ, just as she once was. This echoed personally what I have seen in national stories like the families of those lost in the Charleston shootings who offered unconditional forgiveness to the man who killed their loved ones and prayed that he may know forgiveness and grace, or the Amish families almost a decade ago whose Children were murdered in their small school house. In each case forgiveness freed them from the bondage of sin and open the door for the gospel to be put on full display to the world around them.
Together they free us to walk in grace
When we live in a church culture of confession and forgiveness we are free to walk in the grace of the Lord. We know that if we are having marital problems there are people who will love us and walk with us into wholeness, not condemnation or some false sense of superiority. If we are struggling with lust or pornography, we know that there are believers who rather than treating us like outcast will see the root of grace from the gospel and walk with us into knowing that our satisfaction comes from Christ not the things of this world. No matter the struggles, if we live in a state of confession and forgiveness we freely experience the grace of God, as we know there is nothing hidden in our lives that the enemy can use against us. This is because the family of God knows us and loves us, and through forgiveness and confession they are pushing us further into our relationship with Christ.
For many of us this may seem like a pipe dream, but for all of us this should be an essential goal of our relationship with Christ and other believers. We should desire to be fully known, fully loved, and fully walking in the grace of Christ as we love one another in the grace and forgiveness of Christ.