You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Had a rough week … a challenging month … a time of spiritual battle when temptation has mounted a coordinated attack against you. Were you caught off guard … unprepared … or just too weak to counter the offensive launched by the enemy? Did you finally surrender to the temptation? Unfortunately, it can happen to any of us. Our thoughts and behaviors do not always reflect the new creation that we have become in Christ. And sometimes I feel like I am a wider target when I am on top of the spiritual mountain. Just when I think that my faith is strong and my armor secure … a struggle with temptation ensues; and sometimes I miss the way out in order to endure it. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13) The Apostle James has observed this process as follows:
James 1:13-15 (NIV)
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
That is the process … that is how temptation is formed and sin follows in its wake! Our carnal nature … our sinful nature as human beings … can easily raise its ugly head and engage us. And I think we need to realize that not all temptation comes from outside evil forces; rather, it can stem from our own internal desires or lusts that entice us and lead us into thought patterns and behaviors that manifest themselves as sin. I’m not talking about the obvious sins such as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, etc. I’m speaking about the inner sins such as covetousness, envy, jealousy, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, arrogance, slander, bitterness, anger, rage, and filthy language we have been admonished to avoid. Whether we display these behaviors in our relationships with others in overt or subtle ways, these sins are detrimental to our witness and hinder His command to love one another as Christ has loved us. As much as I want to believe that my heart is not of this world … that I have consecrated myself unto God … there are occasions that I simply fail to resist these types of inner heart issues, and I need to repent and be cleansed.
So I love the reminder of our verse today. God is forgiving and good! God abounds in love to those who call upon Him. That is why prayer and confession is so essential to spiritual discipline. That is why transparency is necessary to have intimacy with the Lord Jesus. Fellowship with God requires honesty … integrity … sincerity. I am so grateful that the Apostle John articulated and shared how believers must walk in the light and in the truth. There is no continuum between darkness and light – only one or the other. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all!
John 1:1-5 (NKJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
1 John 1:5-10 (NKJV)
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.
1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV)
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Yes, John is quite forthright about confession. It is vital for us to acknowledge our sin to God when it occurs … when the Holy Spirit convicts us (Cf. John 16:8) … and to agree with God that we have fallen short of His command to be holy just as He is holy. The writer of the Book of Hebrews addresses the need for confession:
Hebrews 4:11-16 (NKJV)
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Yes, when we come before the throne of grace, we can apply the example of King David as recorded in Psalm 51 to better understand “how” to make our confessions before God. David demonstrated honesty. He exhibited sorrow and repentance. He recognized the authority and sovereignty of God to execute judgement for sin. And He knew God would have mercy because of His great love and faithfulness. Oh, we cannot feign anything with God. He knows our hearts. He knows the truth. All things, including the inclinations within our hearts, are naked and open to the eyes of Him before whom we MUST GIVE account. Jesus knows our weaknesses … and He wants to restore us to fellowship with Him. Confession and repentance are the first steps to reconciliation … and the sacrifices of a broken spirit – a broken and contrite heart – are the path to restoration.
Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever! (Cf. Psalm 106:1)