A couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk at one of my Bible studies. I talked a bit about how I’d grown up in a pretty strict environment – at home, at church and at school, I was always afraid that I was about to get in trouble for something. Then I talked about how my experiences growing up shaped my view of God.
In my mind, God was (and still is) sitting up in Heaven, waiting for me to mess up so that He can punish me. If I said or did something (or failed to do so), I would lose my job, or not have anyone to hang out with over the weekend, or get in a car accident. I saw the “bad” things in life as punishment. And when something “bad” would happen, I would start running through a list in my mind of what I could possibly have done this time to merit this punishment.
As you can imagine, this is not an easy way to live. The constant fear, guilt, worry that I’ve done something to offend God. Hours spent going over every moment just to make sure I didn’t have any unconfessed sin in my life. Lying awake at night asking forgiveness for everything that came to mind, asking God to reveal any “unconfessed” sin and then the “and please forgive me for anything else I’ve forgotten about.”
It’s nerve-wracking! And, it’s completely unecessary.
Do I, or do I not believe that when Jesus died on the cross, His blood covered every single sin I have ever committed and will ever commit? Do I, or do I not believe that because of Jesus’ death, I am completely, sufficiently, and permanently forgiven?
I’m coming to realize that in rehearsing my sins and worrying about not verbally confessing every last one of them, I am, in a way, negating the work of Christ on the cross on my behalf. I am essentially saying that Christ’s death and resurrection didn’t quite do enough – I’m still guilty in God’s eyes unless I manage to ask forgiveness for every single sin.
And I am WAY off base! Hebrews tells us that when Jesus died, the need for sacrifices ended. In the age of grace, this means that because Jesus died, we’re no longer bound by the need to confess every single sin and to make atonement for it. It’s done. It’s over. It’s forgiven.
But before we get all calloused about our daily sins, keep in mind that no where in the Bible does it say we should ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Nor does it say God will never punish us for a sin.
However, there is absolutely no need whatsoever to make ourselves crazy trying to make sure we’ve confessed every last sin before we go to sleep at night. If we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, then by all means, we should confess that sin, ask forgiveness, and stop doing it! And yes, we should be very careful not to sin in the first place.
But the fact is this: We are covered in grace and mercy by Christ’s blood. In God’s eyes, we are right with Him today, tomorrow and for eternity. There is not a single thing we can do to be more right with God than we are at this very moment.
So we can stop obsessing over every little thing we do and we can rest in the full knowledge that Christ died once, for all. And it is enough.
Have you ever obsessed over your sins? What truth helped you break free from that bondage?