My main purpose for writing this series of posts was to expose how a huge and deceptive doctrine has been built in the church based upon one lone Bible verse, and it's a doctrine that is simply not supported in the rest of the New Covenant scriptures and in fact stands in opposition to them. If we're honest with ourselves, where did we Christians get the idea that we need to confess our sins again and again in order to be cleansed and forgiven again and again? Is it not from this solitary verse? But if we've missed the point of this verse (and surrounding passage), then we're doing something that God never intended for us to do.
One might say, "What's the big deal with confessing our sins, even if we don't 'have' to?" Well, wouldn't it be a big deal if a man asked his wife every day if she would marry him? I don't mean a romantic gesture in which he lets her know in a playful way that he loves being married to her. I mean, what if a man seriously asked his wife to marry him every day, as if somehow they became 'unmarried' every day. The whole idea of that is an insult to the union that became a reality once and for all on their wedding day. The point of Part Three of this series was to show how we never become 'unclean' or 'unforgiven' before God, and we always remain in union with Him. Our attempts at trying to get Him to make us clean and forgiven again and again show that we don't understand the reality of what is already true of us, and is an insult to the Spirit of grace.
In reality, we have been separated from sin. Our sin has been taken away. A one-time event took place in which all our sins were dealt with once and for all. What a wonderful thing that has been accomplished through the blood of Jesus! Just think, if our daily sinful behavior negated the effects of that one time sacrifice, and made us unclean and unforgiven again and again, then Jesus would have to come back and die for our sins over and over again! Our behavior didn't make us clean in the first place, and cannot make us unclean. Only the blood of Jesus made us clean and has, in fact, cleansed us forever. God does not see any sin in us.
So what do we do when we don't live according to the clean, righteous, forgiven people that we truly are? Well, after several chapters of showing all that the one-time blood sacrifice of Jesus accomplished, the writer of Hebrews says this: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). He continues on with another highly decontextualized and misunderstood passage that begins with "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..." (Heb 10:26-31). The whole point of that passage is that there is no other sacrifice for sins other than the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. So when we do sin, let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE (not of our sins) that we have in the ever-cleansing blood of Jesus.
What if I don't feel cleansed and forgiven? What if I'm carrying around the weight of my sinful behavior? Some might say that confessing their sins makes them feel better or lifts that heavy burden. I do understand the idea of confessing sins making a person feel clean and forgiven, but I while I understand it, I want to strongly challenge that notion. We're not meant to bear the weight of our sin. Again, we have been cleansed and forgiven solely by the blood of Jesus - not by how we feel. I would say that if we truly want to feel forgiven and cleansed, then we must accept the truth, by faith, that even though our actions are sometimes contrary to our righteous, perfect, holy state, we are in reality always forgiven and cleansed. Our feelings come and go. The fact is that everything has been accomplished solely and sufficiently through the blood of Jesus and nothing less than that! (Including, and even especially, our feelings). The truth trumps feelings every time.
Back to the marriage illustration. I've heard it said that in any relationship, it's good and healthy to confess to one another and to ask for forgiveness and to apologize when we've messed up. And so it's said that in our relationship with God, it's good and healthy for the relationship if we confess and ask for forgiveness and apologize when we've sinned. Well, human-to-human relationships are one thing, and sometimes those things may be good, healthy or necessary. That's a whole 'nother discussion. But based upon all that I've shared in this series about our union with God and with how He has taken away our sin and has perfected us forever, and on how our actions don't separate us from Him or cause Him to put us back into the 'unforgiven and unclean' category, it's my conviction (I'm convinced) that there is nothing to confess or to ask forgiveness for.
I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that what we've done does not line up with who we truly are, as long as we're not putting ourselves under condemnation and shame. Self-pity, self-condemnation and a sense of guilt and shame are all contrary to what God wants from us! Do we really 'get' this? He has gone to great lengths to take our sin and guilt away!!! His Blood... remember??? Have you ever heard people say that guilt is a good motivator? They say that guilt helps drive a person to "do the right thing." Please don't fall for that lie! That is not the way of Christ!
But if we acknowledge our sinful behavior with a sense of something like, "I don't want to live like that; I want to live out of the life of Christ in me," and if we continue to hold fast the confession of our HOPE in the finished work of Jesus, then we're walking in grace. If we continue to trust in the fact that He never leaves us nor forsakes us and that even our fleshly thoughts and behavior never change who we truly are in Him, then we're walking in truth that will truly set us free. Instead of going around with a sin-consciousness all the time, we can go around with a righteousness-consciousness, because that is the 100% reality of who we are. That freedom will bring us to a place where we live from that place of righteousness and holiness, rather than trying to attain it.
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4