What about sin?
Reality is, things are better and worse off than we thought. Hear me out.
I hate calling sin, sin. I hate calling it out. Even with my kids. Because I deeply long for my girls and all the people I know to know they are loved, valuable, known, and seen by a loving God. And they are. So, frankly, sin is a difficult subject. I call it, and hear it called, “mistakes,”“slip-ups,” “not your best self.” I like to distance myself from it. I — you — we are not sinners, we just mess up sometime like everyone else. No one is perfect, we assure ourselves. And there are all the other factors around our “mistakes.” The deep, complex reasons for why we sin. The family patterns or failure, the society, the way we were provoked. And don’t get me wrong – those things are important to consider, to understand, and often to lament.
But here is the rub – the Bible doesn’t mince words. The terms God uses are “wickedness,” “transgression,” “rebellion,” and yes, “sin.” And it is hard, myself included, to say those words. Partly because yes, they condemn me, but also because they condemn the people around me. People I love and want to protect from judgment. But “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
So yes, it is a lot worse than we thought. A lot worse than we like to admit, even as Christians.
This is where we retreat to euphemistic language (it’s just my shortcomings!), or we dive over the cliff of shame and revel in what we aren’t. (Have you ever sat down to the bread and wine and felt you didn’t belong? I’ve been there.)
But. There’s a better way.
And it’s also a lot better than we (I) tend to think. Without the knowledge of sin, there is no forgiveness of that sin. Can I rephrase that? If we didn’t know our own sin, we could never ask for forgiveness from the God we offended. And this is not just for the moment we came to Christ. This is a daily, life-giving practice that every Christian has the opportunity to reap the benefits of.
Can I get very personal? If I don’t know that my pride is making me avoid my husband (Joel) when he confronts me about it, I cannot confess it. I cannot take ownership of it, apologize, and grow. Because the moment those words leave my lips, “I’m sorry honey, my attitude was wrong,” I know he will forgive me. Immediately. As will I forgive him. If I hide or avoid my sin, he cannot forgive me. But if I confess my sin (you know the verse), he is faithful and just to forgive me. If Joel is faithful to forgive me (and he is), how much more will Christ be?
I cannot be perfect, but I can be forgiven. That is the beautiful tension that exists in everyone’s lives — confession is good but it is so hard. If I hide my sin, it will follow me around. If I confess it, Christ takes it away.
If you’re anything like me, you go to any lengths to hide your sin from yourself, or I go to the opposite extreme and start developing a hyper-critical conscience that finds failure everywhere. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit that brings conviction and balance to our souls. Exposing sin is such sweet relief. We don’t need to carry it around avoiding it, nor do we need to carry confessed sin around, shaming ourselves in it. It is gone because what Christ did on the cross is enough. So can I encourage you today to name your sin to yourself? Then to God? Ask if it is truly sin? Maybe bring a trusted friend into this and confess it to them. A third perspective can be so helpful in distinguishing what is sin or being overly hard on yourself. And, if you’ve wronged someone — to them? There is incredible freedom in knowing it, confessing it, then knowing it gone.
All that is left…is a deep well of gratitude. And that, my sister, is the stuff of worship. So dive deep.