Confession, repentance and forgiveness?

If Jesus has done it all, do I need to confess my sin? do I need to ask for forgiveness? Big questions, good questions. So here are some thoughts.

I love the grace of God, I preach and teach grace with a passion, because it’s in the Bible, because it is the gospel. It saves, it frees, it enables, it gives identity etc. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone – Jesus plus nothing equals everything! But in recent times I’ve become aware that there is an abuse of grace, it sounds so good and so close to real grace that you may not notice. I’ve read and heard it said that because it’s all done and dusted at the cross – because all my sin was taken into account, because I’ve been born again and am totally forgiven I don’t need to worry about sin anymore. I don’t need to confess it, or ask forgiveness. I don’t need to admit any wrongs to God or anyone or ask forgiveness, Gods got it covered. Period.

How wrong we can be. Let me illustrate. Imagine for a moment a marriage where there was no recognition of wrong, there is no saying sorry, therefore no extending of forgiveness, imagine what kind of relationship that might be. Somewhat artificial, somewhat stunted, somewhat cold, somewhat unreal. Its well know that apart from “I love you,” the most important words in marriage (and marriage is a covenant of love, to love), are, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” Without them marriages go cold and crash and burn. My point? Love does not assume that it’s ok to just carry on as if it never happened, even in a covenant of love. It does not assume that because we made a commitment to one another in love we don’t need to admit our wrongs and extend forgiveness. Love, leads us to admit our wrongs, and to forgive one another, and in doing so we grow closer together and stronger.

Some hyper grace teachers are in error on this. It doesn’t make for Christian maturity. It leads to spiritual laziness, to cheap grace, to God being taken for granted. We have not been brought into a casual, freewheeling relationship, where whatever we say or do in the present doesn’t matter, because, hey, we’re forgiven, and confession, repentance and seeking forgiveness are Old Covenant. It may be that some having seen and experienced errors – a constant navel gazing, gloomy worm syndrome, old nature focussed Christianity, or a legalistic, rules driven, holiness Christianity – have heard of or discovered the doctrines  of grace and gone completely in the other direction, but one of the dangers in the Christian life is the enemy pushing someone to extremes, which are distortions, and so he brings confusion and error into lives and churches. 

The New Testament writers clearly speak about recognising sin, putting to death the works of the flesh, dealing with sinning believers, the possibility and reality of present time judgment. They speak of the dangers of unrecognised and therefore unconfessed sins. They speak of churches that need to confess and repent of their sins. They speak of the fact that if we do sin we have a mediator, an advocate with the Father, on whom we can depend, one whose blood not only paid the price for our sin, but has the power to cleanse us from all sin. Confession and repentance were very much part of early church life.

To use a picture, we may well have had a bath, but if I get my hands dirty I need to wash them, I don’t need another bath. So it is with in our walk with God. I have been saved, cleansed, made new – eternally, but I still get dirty from time to time and I need present time cleansing. Many of the old hymns, songs, and chorus’s of the church not only spoke about the one time experience of redemption through the shed blood of Jesus, but also the present ongoing, cleansing, and purifying power of the blood. To quote an old song, the blood “shall never lose its power till all the ransomed church of God are saved to sin no more.” (William Cowper). Amen!

I believe I am fully and completely justified. I believe I am a forever son of God. I also believe that I need daily, present time cleansing and renewal, that though my relationship is secure, like any relationship it needs to be managed and not taken for granted, and that that way I grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Saviour and Sanctifier.

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