I’ve been reflecting on sin recently. A number of things have made me ponder the subject:
1. Preparing for last Sunday with Jesus’ diagnosis of the world as evil.
2. Writing up my notes on Paul Tripp’s book A Dangerous Calling. This is his book on the nature of pastoral ministry and it is painfully heart searching. Much of the book revolves around the difference between the pastor’s public persona and the private state of his heart. He queries the unspoken assumption that pastors never struggle with sin! “Shouldn’t we assume that the presence of sin lives within every pastor?” he asks.
3. I happen to have been reading in 1 Samuel and 2 Chronicles recently. What has struck me is the number of kings who started well but end up giving in to sin and disobedience. Saul, Joash and Hezekiah would simply be examples (alongside David and Solomon in different ways.) Of course, the primary lesson is that this points out the need for a perfect King- but at another level it does remind us that the battle with sin is never over in this life.
What do we do about this? It seems to me that this is one area where Christian friendship is vital. We don’t need a priest but it does seem to me of benefit to be confessing our sins to somebody (picking up the injunction of James 5). Sin grows in the dark and dies in the light. I’m looking forward to spending 24 hours with good friends next week where the expectation is that we will talk about our flaws and struggles (and point them out to each other if we haven’t noticed them yet!) It is done in the context of loving and grace filled relationships so it feels safe. But perhaps the most useful lessons that have struck me came from listening to a sermon on Psalm 19:12-14. Three things I am thinking about:
1. The need for confession- even of our hidden faults. The reality is that I haven’t even begun to spot subtle areas of sin in my heart- ways in which I out myself first in my thinking and motivation rather than loving God and others first. One of my observations after listening to the sermon was that the discipline of confession- beyond a general sense of being a sinner- had dropped out of my life. It has been healthy for me to resume a pattern of thinking through the day and bringing known and unknown sin to the Lord.
2. A recognition of the danger of wilful sins ruling over me. I know how easy it is for Christians to lose their way. I need to watch and pray so that a sinful pattern of behaviour doesn’t come to dominate my life.
3. All of this is done in the light of the fact that- praise God- I have a rock and a redeemer. That’s why confession and facing up to sin is not morbid and depressing but actually life giving and liberating. Confession sets me free from the burden of having to pretend that I am better than I am and trying to save myself. Rather it brings me cleansing and joy because I know that the Lord Jesus has redeemed me from the penalty of sin.
Perhaps there are sins that you are trying to hide at the moment. Why not confess them, bring them into the light and know the joy of our Redeemer’s forgiveness?