Mom! He hit me!
I did not! She's lying.
The start of summer often seems to be accompanied by more quarreling than usual. Maybe it's the end-of-school steam release or maybe it's the looser routine, but fights are common until we get into a new groove. This kind of fighting, though, the "He said, She said" fight, was the kind that frustrated me the most.
An Important Conjunction
In a recent sermon from 1 John 1:9, our pastor stressed how confession of sins brings about both forgiveness and cleansing. Because this verse is so familiar, I often move quickly over the depth and glory of this double promise. The guilt from our sins is gone when we confess them to God. He forgives us through His Son Jesus' sacrificial work on the cross. He actively remembers them no more. Then, on top of all that goodness, God cleanses us when we confess our sins to Him. That means He takes away that yucky feeling, those thoughts that we're dirty or we are just used goods. He cleans up our mess and we are forgiven. God will not bring up the past nor demand that we grovel for His approval.
However, there is something that prevents us from this forgiveness and cleansing. In fact, I believe it's a sure-fire way to shipwreck your faith if you're not careful. And, it was evident in my children's quarrel.
When neither child accepted blame for their sin, when both shifted the blame onto the other one, it put me in a position where I could not adequately bring resolution to the quarrel. Until the one who was lying admitted it, we were stuck. Confession brings about forgiveness and cleansing. When we cover up our sins, ignore them, blame others for them, diminish them...this prevents forgiveness of sins, cleansing of guilt, reconciliation of relationships, growth in God.
The Loud Warning
When I read the list of things that our long-suffering, compassionate God actually hates, I take notice. If we have ears to hear, Proverbs 6 serves as a fog horn and a lighthouse to prevent us from a faith-shipwreck.
These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. (verses 16-19)
If we insist on covering up our sin, we will be shipwrecked. We can cover up our sins in a variety of ways and they all create a similar situation as my quarreling kids gave me: Until they were honest and confessed there could be no forgiveness and cleansing. There could be no resolution.
Following the glorious promise of forgiveness and cleansing after we confess our sins comes the somber truth in verse 10 of 1 John 1: "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." When we refuse to acknowledge our sins (and I'm not talking about an obligatory confession here), not only are we liars, but we are making God a liar.
Have ears to hear. Don't let sin deceive you. If you are living in sin or refusing to hear wisdom from a multitude of counselors, then you are setting yourself up for a shipwreck of a situation. Repent. God's double promise of forgiveness and cleansing is generous and glorious!