If We Confess Our Sins...
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
For those of you reading this who don't know, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I struggle greatly with OCD manifesting itself in spiritual matters. It can be extremely exhausting and the cause of great distress, turmoil, and utter anguish. You feel as though your mind is spinning out of control, yet there is nothing but confusion and terror. When an obsessive fit comes, your heart pounds, your chest is tight, your stomach is knotted, your jaw tightens, and yet you try as you might do what you can to just do the things you need to get done in life. Most of us are ashamed of it, and almost all of us try to hide it from others, even those most close to us, because we feel if we tell them we are falling into it again they will grow weary with us eventually. It is a peace-killer, and it is a relationship-killer, too. But thank God we can learn to cope with it.
Anway, I have decided to look again at this verse above because I know many people who struggle like I do obsess about confessing sin. Some compulsively confess sins hundreds of times a day, sometimes the same sin repeatedly for hours even. This may sound silly to some, and someone reading this might be like "you just need to stop". Yes, if we could we would. So, in order to help people like me, or even just Christians who have a weak conscience when it comes to the concept of confessing our sins, I hope to address briefly not the whole matter but specifically what the nature of this promise is and what it is to confess.
The promise that "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins..." is much like the other promises such as "everyone who believes in Him has eternal life". It is not a calling to a transaction, one which we must make sure we do and do correctly in order to receive the benefit, but an assured promise to the weary soul that the God of the universe who is now our Father will blot out the sins of the ones who come to Him contritely acknowledging their sins before Him. Just like "everyone who believes in Christ shall be saved" points us not to an act (believing) but instead to the firmness, suitability, and sufficiency of Christ, so also the promise in this verse above points us to the faithfulness of God in forgiving us. It is by nature assuring, as with all such promises. I know that when the conscience is burdened, and we are full of anxiety, it seems hard to imagine that God could still smile upon us. But this promise assures us that He will not only smile but cast the burden away as well. so we need not fear and should uncover to Him the burden that condemns us within.
I know many of us have a propensity to look within. When a promise comes that seems conditional (uses qualifiers or begins with "if"), we focus upon the condition rather than the thing promised (or the Promiser). I thank God that He has shown me the gentleness of such promises, the smile of His face in them. I was thinking last night as I laid in bed -although there is so much I don't know and so much that I cannot grasp or connect in my mind, it is a great blessing to know His promises. They are so personal, and by nature, assuring. In them God speaks a word to us that, when illuminated to our minds by the Spirit, melts away anxiety. In fact, the whole world melts away for that moment. It is just us and our Benevolent God who comes to assure us and bring us gladness and comfort. They speak to the anxious, sin-weary soul, "I am here, and it is ok. Come." They communicate to us the objective certainty of His mercy. I did not see that a few years ago. I know it has been through times of personal inner anguish that God has grown me in understanding in these areas. God does work all things for good, even when it seems like there is a shroud of darkness covering our minds and hearts. I thank God.