The Logical Conclusion Of Unconfessed Sin And Doubts About Salvation
A couple of months back, during the weekly bible study that I lead at the shelter, one of the regular attendees stated "I am not sure I am saved". I quite sure this person is saved as there is ample fruit and evidence in her life that she is indeed saved so I asked her about why she was having doubt about this. She responded by saying that she was not sure God could forgive her for all of her sin. Instantaneously I was reminded of 1 John 1:9:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 NASB)
I quoted this verse and asked her about what it clearly stated. She being a very intelligent individual was able to reply that if an individual confesses their sin then God will forgive them for their sin. I explained it was not a matter of God being unable to or even choosing not to; rather the sacrifice of Jesus had made it a reality. I did say that there was according to this letter a command from the Lord to ensure that we were confessing our sin however. I then asked her why was there any doubt. In the midst of this conversation the Lord began to speak to me about the logical conclusions of having a doubt about His ability to forgive sin. One of things that concerns me most about our society is that many are without the ability to logically think through the ramifications of the ideas and values they hold. Without this ability, a bad idea can quickly lead to some very serious consequences and even worse ideas and theology. Doubting one's salvation because of a flawed idea of salvation has some very troubling conclusions. Let's consider the statement "I am not sure I am saved because I am not sure God can forgive all that I have done" for a few moments. What are some of the conclusions and bad ideas can stem from this thinking?
IF GOD IS UNABLE TO FORGIVE OUR SIN THEN THE POWER OF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST IS MINIMIZED
Maybe this seems like a simple conclusion, on the other hand, maybe you never thought about it this way. If God is unable to forgive sin, then the sacrifice of Jesus is lacking and virtually impotent. The author of Hebrews, in contrasting the work of the Old Covenant Levitical priesthood with the working of the New Covenant and the priesthood of Jesus says this:
"Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made A footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." (Heb 10: 11- 14)
Did you catch that? The sacrifice for sin was offered once for all. Even more exciting is the idea that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God. Why is He sitting down? The work has been completed. ALL of your sin and mine has been effectively covered by His sacrifice. Now I realize that the 1 John 1:9 passage mentions confession and I will deal with that shortly, but the fact remains that Jesus sacrifice was once for all and now He sits at the right hand of God because the work is done. So when we makes a declaration that God is unable forgive all our sins we are saying that the sacrifice of Jesus was not powerful or efficacious enough for all our sin. In other words Christ's sacrifice had only a limited effect. This is huge logical conclusion that many have missed. There is however another problem with this line of thinking though. If not all sin is forgiven, how does one determine which sins have been forgiven and which ones haven't? In another post I have written (Vilified Anyone Lately) I have discussed how difficult it is for us to rank sin, and yet with the doubt about one's salvation because of sin that God can't forgive, we have essentially set up a subjective sin ranking. The logical conclusions do not stop here though.
BY EXTENSION IF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST IS MINIMIZED THEN WE HAVE TO QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF THE WORD OF GOD
This is a terrifying thought for me. God's word says that if we confess our sin then He forgives it ALL. If we say that the sacrifice of Jesus was not enough to ensure the forgiveness of ALL our sin then we are effectively questioning the validity of the trustworthiness of 1 John 1:9. So what? Big deal right? It is a huge deal. If we can question this passage, then all other passages in 1 John are on the table for reinterpretation but not only 1 John, the entire Old and New Testament now become suspect. Is scripture authoritative and accurate? The answer is either yes or no. It cannot be both. Our whole faith lives or dies on the validity of scripture. The text doesn't say "If we confess He is be faithful and just to forgive some of our sin" does it? If the Word of God is wrong on this point and only some sin is covered by the words of 1 John 1:9, then you and I have a more serious problem than the sin. We have canon issue. If we have a canon issue then we can't trust any of it. How do we then determine what parts of scripture are accurate and which ones are not? Scripture must be accurate and authoritative or the entire faith and Gospel message fails. But we are not at the end of the logical conclusions
BY EXTENSION OF QUESTIONING THE VALIDITY OF SCRIPTURE OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOD OF BIBLE IS NOW SUSPECT
God becomes unknowable, at least from a Christian perspective. My friend Dan often shared with our clients the 3 most common God concepts: God is mostly mad, mostly sad and mostly bad. Sadly these are untrue and yet at the same time we must put these on the table as possible characteristics of God if we have no definitive and trustworthy standard of truth. If the bible can't be trusted then how do we know that God is not angry with us? How do we not know that God does not look at us completely saddened and distraught by our actions? How do we know that God is not a tyrant who want nothing more than to see us suffer? If scripture can't be trusted we quite simply don't. The Christian God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one called Yahweh may be nothing more than a children's story. He might as well be a myth. We simply can't know. Now some might say "Well God could still speak to us through His Spirit". I agree but how does one then line up what one is hearing if there is not standard for what God's character and nature are like? God is completely unknowable. At the heart of this what I am trying to communicate is that when we say God can't forgive my sin we are calling Him a liar and his Word becomes nothing less than empty book of fictitious stories.
THE LOGICAL CONCLUSIONS OF SIN THAT IS NOT CONFESSED
I said that I would also look at the element of the 1 John 1:9 text that speak about confession. By nature I am a problem solver (after almost 10 years of working in IT, I would hope that this would be an element of my skill set), and I see that one of the logical conclusions a person might come to from the text of 1 John 1:9 is "What about the sins I haven't confessed? Are they forgiven?" Tough question and I am pretty sure I don't have the skinny on this, however I would say that the answer is yes. Follow my reasoning for a moment. Can a person remember every little way that they have been sinful? I would argue that this would be impossible. I will also argue that text of 1 John in general puts a lot of emphasis on motivation. For example:
"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;" (1 John 2:1 NASB)
In the opening verse of the 2nd chapter John appears to be attempting to motivate the readers to live righteously; inducing them to live a more Godly lifestyle. However in the same verse he makes the declaration "if anyone does sin"- I would argue that he realized that with the corruption in the hearts of all humans he thought it very likely that his readers would still make mistakes (truthfully I am sure he saw it in his own live first and foremost). Here we are almost 2 millennia later and the proof is in the pudding that John was right. We are still sinning. There is a real motivation to live in a Godly manner if we are truly followers of Jesus, but we don't always get it right and the grace of the Almighty God is still available to us through our advocate Jesus the righteous. So too in our times of confession before God, our motivation is to hear from Him all that we need to confess and bring into the light. It occurs to me that if we did remember it all, we might not even be able to handle it. It would be too much, too overwhelming. His grace is sufficient cover it all. If we are caught up with remembering it all we have once again made it a works based salvation system and I am certain God is not in support of this. Our motivation needs to be openness to confess what God brings to mind and not worry or fret about the things that He hasn't
Another question comes at this point and perhaps another conclusion in relation to unconfessed sin: Are we purposely holding anything back? That question made me stop for a minute and ponder. I have already stated that God's grace will cover all sin, so holding it back from confession is now ludicrous, unless there is something else. The logical conclusion is that we want to continue engaging it in it; there is no guilt or shame in relation to it.
Today I have hit on a number of ideas but briefly and there could far more said. Let me end with a couple challenges for you. Do you believe your salvation is sure and that your sin has been forgiven? If not you need to deal with the logical conclusions that result from that belief; and they are very serious.
Secondly, if you are not confessing sins as God has convicted you about them, ask yourself the question why. What are the logical conclusions of that line of thinking?