Tag: confession

What to Do After You Sin

You have probably been taught that after you sin, there are certain rigorous steps and emotional postures you need to assume to make things right with God. Deep groans of profuse crying, long quivering statements of confession, and some kind of twisted punishment of one’s self are sure to be a good religious start, provided Jesus hasn’t already back-slapped you into hell.

As much as we love to try to work our way to God, we also love to try to work our way back to God once we have sinned. It makes us feel like we have some control (and credit) in the process.

Yet, no matter what you have been taught, the Gospel teaches us differently. First, you cannot work your way to God, and then once in Christ, there is in fact no need to work your way back to Him, if that were possible anyways.

For the non-believer, the prescription of what to do after you sin is simple… agree with God you sinned, believe in the forgiveness God has given you in Christ on the cross, receive it through faith, and stop sinning as you live from your “new creation” identity. (2 Cor. 5:17)

For the believer, however, things have been made a bit more complicated and confusing. So, to clear things up and get back to the Gospel, here’s what to do (and not to do) once you have sinned.

Once you have sinned…

1) Agree with God you have sinned.

2) Believe in the forgiveness that God has already applied to your sins… past, present, and future. No need to ask for what God has already given. He is not interested in your confession of sin (other than agreeing with Him that you sinned) but your confidence in His finished work on the cross applied fully to your life the moment you believed. (btw, 1 John 1:9 is written to non-believers, not believers.)

3) Trust that your identity, righteousness, and standing with God are still fully intact. Sin has not distanced you from God. The Christ that lives in you has not left the building or even walked to the front door. He has not given up on you, nor reduced His love or presence.

4) Believe on Jesus that He will enable you to overcome this area of sin in your life as you see that you are by nature no longer a “sinner.” Don’t get on a treadmill of trying and striving to “do better.” You cannot produce spiritual fruit in your life, only God can, and that only by faith, not your effort. Believe in who you are in Christ, lacking no spiritual blessing, and live from that belief. Right believing leads to right living, not rule keeping. The more you try to stop sinning, the more you will. The more you believe and trust in Jesus through His Grace to will and act according to His pleasure in your life, the less you will sin. An obedience problem is always first an identity problem. Behind every area of sin in your life is a wrong belief about God and/or yourself. So, when you sin, don’t ask, “what am I doing wrong?” and then strive to change your behavior. Rather ask, “what am I believing wrong?” and ask God to help you change your beliefs and increase your faith.

5) If your sin effects people, promptly ask them for forgiveness and do your best to clean things up and make things right. With people, confession and clean up are very important and often necessary.

6) Vehemently resist feeling condemned and applying false guilt and shame onto your life. Don’t live your life carrying an emotional burden Jesus already canceled. Forgive yourself from the forgiveness Jesus has already applied to your life, past, present, and future. To walk in guilt and shame is to deny the power of the cross and Jesus’ work in your life.

7) Focus on Jesus and His mercy, not your sin. Don’t be sin conscious, be Jesus conscious. Don’t give Satan the attention, give Jesus the glory. Thank Jesus and live from His mercy and favor, focused on His amazing grace.

8- Don’t start a spiritual battle with Satan that doesn’t exist. Rather, hold onto your identity, righteousness, and holiness in Christ. Religously praying “harder”, giving, serving, sacrificing, and going to church “more” will not bring you back into good standing nor keep you protected from the evil one. Resting in Him as you place your trust in His work and Grace is your spiritual armor.

9) Move on, focusing on Christ and your identity in Him. Have the mind of Christ who remembers your sin no more. The more you bring your sins with you into the future in your mind, the better chance you will repeat them in the future in your actions. It is for freedom Christ set you free.

Speaking is the New Doing

I learned early on in ministry that activity does not necessarily equate to accomplishment.  You can be busy doing lots of things all while getting absolutely nowhere of value.

The same is true in the Christian life, we can find ourselves spending a lot of time doing spiritual-looking activities yet accomplishing very little of Kingdom worth, internally within ourselves and externally.  Unfortunately, the same Grace that saved us is often not seen as the same Grace that sustains and grows us.  Somehow we have come to believe the idea that at the very least, a bit of the flesh is necessary to somehow improve our lives.  So, we work, strive, and try to perform our way to a better life.

Yet, if you are like many Christians, you are secretly frustrated. Though you might never give it a public voice, your inner thoughts are haunted by the conclusion that all these spiritual gymnastics you have been doing and performing aren’t improving one thing. You are tired, exhausted, and wonder deep down, “what’s wrong with me?”  I am doing my best only to still be stressed.

The truth is, what releases God’s activity in and through your life is your faith, not your striving. In fact, the same efforts we think that our progressing God’s work in us can be the very same ones that are blocking it.

Yet, at the same time, we can have tons of faith within us, but we aren’t we releasing that faith to work on our behalf. We can become like loaded guns, we have a lot of faith ready to go, but it’s not being released.  So, what releases our faith? Most Christians would answer with something like… “my obedience,” “my efforts,” or “my faithfulness.”  But those are all centered on our performance, they are types of “work.”  And unfortunately, they are activities (as important as they are) that don’t accomplish much.

For God, ironically, “speaking” is His work.  In Genesis chapter 1, God creates the entire world into being through speaking, not doing. What works for God is what God wants to work for us. Speaking is a release of our faith that accomplishing more than our efforts ever could. In fact, that which is His work (speaking), is really not work.

Under the new Covenant of Grace (brought through Jesus), speaking is the new doing. Why is this? Because under the new Covenant, believers are Kings and Priests.

And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10

Slaves and servants don’t speak much, and if they do, it’s always in response to their circumstances.  Yet, by the way we speak and don’t speak as Christians, you would think we were still slaves. “I am not good enough,” “This is impossible,”  “Things will never work out,” “I am a failure.”  And then we wonder why we aren’t reigning in life.

However, we as Christians are  not slaves and servants, we are Kings and Priests unto God. Kings and Priests us words to alter circumstances and change their future, not merely respond to it. Indeed, speaking is the new doing. In the Kingdom system of life, what you speak is what you get, not in contradiction to God’s will but in the flow of His favor. Speaking is the secret weapon of our faith, not doing.

Never underestimate the power speaking out loud. The most important proclamation your faith needs to hear is your own. It’s one thing to have faith within your thoughts, but speaking is what releases that faith. Change your self talk and start speaking words of faith verbally out loud, and watch your life change.  No, I am not talking about sharing your faith, I am talking about confessing the Word and the promises of God, along with your words of faith, audibly to yourself.  It’s not work, it’s releasing your faith to work.

Can we say, “Game changer?”

Excuse Me, I Tooted

We adopted our daughter Madelyn from China 7 months ago. She is four years old.  Among other things, we are teaching her how to be polite, saying things like, “thank you,” “please,” and “you’re welcome.”  Like all human beings, Madelyn “toots.”  It’s a gaseous expression that crosses all international lines. No, China toots (we humorously call “Choots”) don’t smell any better or worse than American ones. When she toots, we have taught her to simply say, “excuse me.”

What has been interesting is to notice that Madelyn thinks she needs to say “excuse me” for all her toots, even the ones that make no sound nor give a smell. So, every so often, at random, we will hear Madelyn say “excuse me” for no apparent reason.  Though we are helping her to better know the ins and outs of when to say “excuse me,” she is so genuine and desires to be faithful to the point that she won’t even let a silent, non-odorous toot go by without the response, “excuse me.”  No one would know that anything ever happened except for the moment she says, “excuse me.”

In 1 John 1:9, we read “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 

For most people, they interpret this passage to be directed towards believers.  Therefore, they believe a Christian needs to still confess their sins so that they can be restored to a state and position of righteousness with God.  In their mind, if you don’t confess, you could be in a mess.

Yet, I don’t believe this passage is directed towards believers, but rather to the Gnostic unbelievers the entire book addresses. On the cross, all our sins past, present, and future are put to death, and the moment you receive what Jesus did on the cross for your behalf, that forgiveness and righteousness become yours, always. Asking God to forgive you (as a Christian) is like asking Him to do something He has already done. For the Christian, God desires our belief and trust in His work on the cross for our lives, not on our ability to beg Him to forgive us every time we hiccup. Forgiveness has already taken place, it becomes applied to our lives the moment we believe. You don’t ask for what you believe you already have.  God wants our trust, not our confession tablets.

Does our continued sin grieve the Holy Spirit? Yes. Remove our righteousness, add unforgiven sin to our record, or distance us from God? No. There is a big difference between agreeing with God that we have sinned and confessing it. In fact, the job of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life isn’t to convict us of our sin, but rather to convince us of our righteousness in Christ.

But if you do believe 1 John 1:9 is for believers, then believe it all the way!  Like Madelyn’s understanding of saying “excuse me” every time she toots, every time you make a mistake, have an impure thought, or feel anything bad towards another, you had better be confessing it.  When you are in the mall and you lust at an attractive person, better get confessing. When you are driving and someone cuts you off, better get confessing. When you have a feeling of hatred towards a person, better get confessing. When you are coveting another person’s stuff, better get confessing. When you are playing a sport and you want revenge, better get confessing. When you wish something negative towards your boss, better get confessing. Every secret thought, word, or deed.

If you think about it, there won’t be many moments you have with nothing to confess.  But, if you are going to believe and teach 1 John 1:9 is for the Christian, you need to believe it all the way. Don’t lack authenticity, don’t fall short of integrity, make sure you are doing exactly what it says, because if you don’t, according to your own belief, righteousness will always allude you. And you never know, that one sin you forgot or forget to confess might be the one of which God says at your interview for heaven, “Excuse me, you missed one… hate it for ya”

© 2019 Chris Kratzer

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