Seeing Sin - Accepting Forgiveness
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
After having two very rambunctious boys, I was so delighted when I found out our third child was going to be a girl. My boys in their younger years seemed to be in trouble every minute, from the time their bodies bounced down to the breakfast table until their heads hit the pillows each night. In contrast, I have found my daughter to be a delight to parent. By her inerrant nature she is very low key, perceptive in dealing with others, internally joyful, and overall very compliant. I often refer to her disposition as that of a Polly Anna (which you would understand if ever you have seen the Disney movie under the same name).
Character training for my boys in their younger years seemed like a constant revolving door – in trouble – in the thinking chair – attitude change – talk to mom – discipline given – off to break another rule. With my daughter, her nature has made discipline almost obsolete, yet that does not mean she is without sin – she just has a much easier way of avoiding the more noticeable sins most kids have trouble with in their younger years. That being said, there are a few places where her sinful nature does rear its ugly head and where she cannot avoid her human sinful nature. The nature I am talking about is the nature we all deal with and which is addressed in Romans 3:23, which states: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
I have to admit, seeing my own sinful nature is difficult. I hate it when I get caught doing something contrary to God’s word or when God confronts me with His truth in contrast to the way my actions or thoughts have been exerted towards a particular situation. And, even more so do I hate to see those people who are close to me and who I love as sinners, especially my children. Yet, if I deny my sin and their sin I go against scripture which states: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Sin is a matter to be dealt with no matter how good or evil we see ourselves or others. Plain and simple, we are all sinners in the presence of God.
So, getting back to the reason I bought up my daughter today. Yesterday I did catch her in a sinful act and she was mortified that my catching her made her confront her sinful nature. After a short discipline and a lot of crying, she stated to me “You don’t love me. You’ll never forgive me.” In her heart she was questioning the depth of my love and breadth of my grace towards her as a sinful person, not just towards this one instance – she was given a glimpse of the nature she (and all of us) fights against each day. In that instant, no matter what I told her about my willingness to forgive her, she would not accept my forgiveness. And that is what brings me to the next truth I wanted to share.
In my experiences with God, I have realized that I too have times in which I cannot fathom God’s grace towards me. I too want to blurt out, “God, You don’t love me. You won’t forgive me.” Yet, God’s grace does not allow that type of thinking. In continuation of 1 John 1, verse 9 goes on to state: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is the act that brings us into a righteous state before God. That is, confession of our sinful nature in its entirety, which brings us full circle and back to the fact that we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We need to, as the sinners we are, learn that only “…through the washing of regeration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom [God] poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” (Titus 3:5, 6) are we made worthy before God. Not by finally getting it right and avoiding the sin that plagues our lives here on earth. Because, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” as stated in 1 John 1:10.
I want to end with a mental picture I use to bring myself peace in relation to my own sinful nature. I have pictured this process of sin, moving away from God, repentance, and regeneration back to holiness a constant cycle. It is a cycle that I can slow down, speed up, or even halt for a while, but in all reality I do not have the ability to escape it on this earth – that is what will happen someday when I finally have my sinful nature removed in heaven. Until then I have made the decision to press on and to learn from each journey I take around this mental wheel I have constructed. I have decided to allow myself to live free of my sinful nature because that is the gift Jesus gives me each day – not because I deserve it, but rather because He offers it. We each have to decide if we will take Jesus at His word and live a free life in Him because He holds out freedom to each of us and that truth is He made very clear when He stated, “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)