Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Looking Toward Easter

I’ve got a confession to make: I’m not very good at confessing.
It’s not really that I’m afraid of confession or that I am hesitant to agree with God that I have slipped up and fallen short of the mark. No, I’ll freely admit that I regularly sin against God with the things I do and the things I don’t do which I should.
Yet, I still do not incorporate much confession in my regular attempts to communicate with God.
I understand the beauty and wonder of 1 John 1:9: [I]f we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
I understand the blessings that flow from confessing my sins: Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)
I understand (and have experienced) the need for confession. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)
And I understand that we have to take responsibility – ownership – for our actions (and inactions). That’s part of “how” to confess, as David showed us in Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin,” “I did not cover up my iniquity,” “I will confess my transgressions,” and “You forgave the guilt of my sin.”
But what about “why”? Why should I need to “confess” what God already knows? I mean, “O.K., ‘my bad’ – sorry. I’ll try to do better.” Isn’t an apology enough? Why the need for confession?
Well, I’ve started to think that perhaps Isaiah 53 answers that question. That chapter, in prophesying the sacrifice Jesus would have to make, is usually read to say that Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of the world. Through the prophet’s use of the pronouns in Isaiah 53 (“our,” “us,” “we”), we often view Jesus’ death as the atoning sacrifice for the cumulative sins of the entire human race.
But I don’t think that is a correct interpretation. You see, Jesus died for my sins. And He died for your sins. But He didn’t die for our sins. He didn’t endure the cross to atone for all of the sins ever to be committed; No, He was led to the altar for each individual transgression that I would ever commit which would otherwise separate me eternally from God – each one.
So, what Isaiah 53 actually says is:
* Surely he took up my infirmities
* He carried my sorrows
* He was pierced for my transgressions
* He was crushed for my iniquities
* The punishment that brought me peace was upon him
* By his wounds I am healed
Why do we need to confess our sins to God? Because with each act we commit or omit, a thunderous KA THUNK rings out as a huge mallet bangs down on the nails attaching our precious Savior to the cross. A lustful thought – KA THUNK! Looking away from another in need – KA THUNK! That inappropriate deduction on our tax return – KA THUNK! A hurtful remark, a dishonest response, an ignored prompting – Ka thunk! KA THUNK! KA THUNK!
God surely knows who is to blame for His Son’s death - me. And any act (no matter how small) that separates me from fellowship with God is enough to be the sole cause of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
When I acknowledge and confess my guilt for each heinous act which pounds those nails into His hands, He is faithful to forgive me and restore me to fellowship with Him.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready to start fess’n up.

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