Monday, June 9, 2014

Another Way to Look at Confession

I read a good post about confession of sin.

I’ve been wondering this past week where exactly confession of sin should fit into my spiritual life.  I went to my church’s Bible study last Thursday night, and the lesson essentially was that God will not hear our prayers if we are holding on to sins, and so we need to confess and forsake our sins.  That discouraged me, since I am far from perfect.  The result of that lesson was that I hated myself for my flaws, I hated God for being such a perfectionist, and I was judgmental of others’ flaws.  I also was not particularly others-oriented, on account of my own spiritual turmoil.  You can read about that here.

Then I went to church on Sunday morning, and I felt a bit better afterwards.  The reason is that the theme at our service was about God and people reaching out to the broken-hearted and those who have lost their way, trying to help them rather than judging them.  You can read about that here.
But a question occurred to me.  I realize that me focusing on my own flaws and asking God to have mercy on a worm such as me is not mentally healthy for me.  I thought that perhaps I should focus on doing and thinking good rather than beating myself up for my flaws and imperfections.  Does that mean that confession of sin should play no role in my spiritual life, though?  It’s such a large part of the Bible!

That’s where the post I read this morning comes in: Morgan Guyton’s The Gospel of the Freedom to Be Wrong.  The post looks at how certain conceptions of confession of sin are unhealthy, but it also proposes an alternative model.  Here’s a quote:

“I do think that confession and accountability are immensely important tools if the problem of sin is understood properly. The problem is not that I’m supposed to be perfect and God is really angry because I’m not. The problem is that I continue to lack the freedom to be wrong, and God is really sad because I still don’t trust him. Even though Jesus died for my sins, I continue to be in denial about addictions and idols that I have, which occupy the space in my heart that God wants to fill with mercy. Confession is practice in embracing the freedom of being wrong and letting God’s armies of love advance into the occupied territories of my heart that remain under self-justification.”

The whole post is worth reading.  I’ll probably still have periods of spiritual despair, for there are so many things out there (even in the Bible) that lead me to have that.  But I’m thankful for people who can provide a better way to look at issues.

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