Let’s play “word association.” When I say snow, what comes to your mind? After a week of school closings and delays many of you may be thinking cabin fever and hassle. Our daughter Ginny works for the airlines and associates snow with canceled flights and urgent calls, as well as fun driving with 4-wheel drive! Tonight my uncle who lives in the DC area, where snow is falling as I write, remarked he likes the snow because it makes everything look so clean. Actually his perspective is biblical. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
From red to snow white; what a contrast! I still remember how yellow my white poodle, Pepper, looked after a rare snow dusting when I was growing up in Savannah. The same contrast happened with my son’s pet white duck, Jordan. White feathers and fur look dirty yellow next to new snow.
When was the last time you felt dirty? Not just physically dirty, but dirty inside. Being exposed to yuck in others lives can leave us feeling dirty. This week Karl Rove said just hearing the unfolding sordid details of John Edward’s escapades made him feel like he needed a bath. Our own thoughts, renegade desires, actions or words can leave us feeling contaminated. They also contaminate others. Victims of abuse often feel soiled and shameful.
Sometimes we can’t pinpoint the source. We just feel yucky. Like sticky spider webs, invisible threads of guilt, regret and condemnation attach themselves to us making it difficult to engage and focus on the people and tasks at hand.
1 John 1:9 has been dubbed the Christian’s bar of soap. Look at the context with me. “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:5-10)
Those who belong to Jesus have been bathed in His blood. When we by faith accepted the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for our sins, we were identified with what He accomplished. As our representative, what He accomplished applied to us, just as I reap the benefits of what our American forefathers accomplished, even though I wasn’t even born in 1776.
But even after a bath we can pick up grime as we tread in the world. In Biblical times, people would visit bath houses. But as they walked the dusty roads, their sandaled feet got dirty. That is why it was customary for someone to wash a guest’s feet.
As a Christian, my sin was covered by Christ’s blood at the cross. But I can still sin. When I do, I don’t need another bath, I need my feet washed.
To confess your sins means to agree with God, to say the same thing He says. What does He say? His Spirit points out when we blow it. But not everything. He understands the maturing process and that is why “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” This continuous cleansing takes place as we walk in the light. But when He convicts us of our sin, He is pointing out something to turn away from, change our thinking about. To confess, we simply agree with Him. We agree that He is right, that particular attitude or action needs to go. We also concur that Jesus has taken care of it.
Confession is NOT begging for forgiveness. You have already been forgiven. Jesus is not going to die again for your sin. Confession is not promising you will never do it again. It is agreeing with God, aligning our values, thoughts, beliefs and behavior with His. It is saying, “You are right, I was wrong. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for cleansing me. Help me to walk in this new light I’ve been given.”
What if you do that and still feel dirty? We walk by faith. If you biblically confess your sins, then by definition you are agreeing that Jesus paid the price and you are clean.
A final note: I believe that when the Holy Spirit convicts us, He is specific. He points out something to confess; an action, attitude or belief etc. When I have a general vague feeling that something is wrong with me, that I’m damaged, but have nothing to turn away from, that is condemnation and comes from the world, the flesh or the devil. We can experience both. The solution is the same; agree with God on what He says is true about you.
The next time you see fresh snow, take a quiet moment to marvel. Christian, that is how your Father sees you. The red blood of Christ blotted out the red stain of sin and left you snow white.