One of the things that has never been an issue in my experience of the Christian life is the idea that we have to feel sorry for our sins. In fact, I was taught that we don’t need to feel sorry at all.
Recently a comment on one of my previous posts (So What DO we do about Personal Sins?) brought up this sorrow, or broken-heartedness as related to some people’s understanding of what “confession” is – that is, not an official, name and cite the sin to God for forgiveness action, but rather a natural feeling of remorse that a believer should have upon realizing he has offended God. In fact, this is considered by some to be part of what turns one away from the sinning.
Updated paragraph: Col Thieme and others taught that this need to feel sorrow was yet one more means of inserting human effort into the equation… The feeling bad or sorry or broken hearted becomes the currency by which one tries to earn or buy forgiveness, and is not commensurate with grace.
Granted, I don’t think my commenter was trying to say that feeling sorry is necessary for forgiveness, but is merely a part of the process of coming back to God. Still whether this view or the view that sorrow is necessary, I don’t believe either has a place in our relationship with God.
Here are some reasons why:
1. I have no argument with the proposition that sin is offensive to God. It is. It’s disgusting, insulting, intolerable, wretched, hateful, gross… I’ve run out of adjectives. He hates it. It’s a denial of His character and in fact, in direct opposition to it.
2. In fact, sin is so offensive to God that no matter how much we might weep, wail, feel awful, feel sorry, promise to do better, none of that — nor anything else we do — could make it up to God for our violation. Death is the only answer to our sin; ie, complete separation from God. And when you’re dead, you can’t do much to rectify a relationship.
3. For that reason, God had to deal with our sin problem Himself, which He did by sending Jesus to earth as a man where He lived a perfectly righteous life, died spiritually on the cross in our place, and after three days in the grave rose again in resurrection life.
4. On the Cross, all the sins of every person who ever lived or will live were poured out on the Son and judged. All sins, but one, that is: the only sin not forgiven is the one of refusing to believe in the name of the only begotten son of God.
5. That is not a sin I have to worry about, since I have believed in Jesus’s name. At the moment I did, I was declared perfectly righteous for all time and I received eternal life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a number of other gracious gifts bestowed on all believers.
6. Even so, I still sin after salvation because I am still in this human body with its sin nature. Yet it’s not I who sins, but the sin nature that dwells within me. (Ro 7:17,18) So if I were to feel sorry for my sin, what part of me would feel sorry? Sometimes it’s the sin nature, because it knows people will think poorly of it, or even fears God might punish it. Why would I feel sorry in my new man which cannot sin? (I Jn 3:9) It was the flesh that did it. And yes, I did allow it to take over my soul and do its thing, but the Bible tells me that’s inevitable. I’m weak. I’m going to give in from time to time. Why spend any time at all lamenting the inevitable? Instead, just turn from it and get back with the Program!
7. God is not shocked when I sin. He is not hurt when I sin. He is not offended when I sin. He knew every sin I would ever commit before I was ever born. All of them were poured out on Jesus and judged 2000 years ago, where all the offense God had toward my sin was appeased once and for all.
8. Who am I to think I can improve on or add a little bit more to what Jesus did to satisfy the perfect character of God?
9. When I sin, where’s the big surprise? As I said, I know I have a sin nature and that it will get the better of me at times.
10. Even less is God surprised.
First,because He knew all things before He ever created anything.
And second because He’s the one who decided to create man with a free will, even knowing that man would sin, and that from that point on all men but one born into the world would emerge as sinners with a sinful nature.
If our sinning surprises and hurts Him, why did He leave us here with a sin nature? Why doesn’t He just do away with the flesh and replace it with a resurrection body the moment anyone believes in Christ?
Because that was not His plan. Instead, He placed our new nature into the old fleshly “body of death” along with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and left us here to live out our lives and witness to others. Left us here in this fallen world, with enemies all around, inside and out, trying their best to get the old man back in power.
11. So of course we’re going to sin. And when we do, how could God possibly be shocked or hurt? He knows exactly what we are, in addition to knowing – and choosing – everything that’s happened and is still going to happen. He has a reason for it , and it’s not really about us learning how to be good little Christians who will never sin again. That’s for heaven.
No, it’s so that He, through the transforming power of His grace and His Spirit and HIs word, could transform us into vessels of mercy and the very image of Christ. All here in this devil’s world, with the sin nature right there inside us, and the devil’s minions trying their best to stop us.
It’s so we and all the angels, fallen and elect, might learn what a gracious, loving God He is, how wise and wonderful and powerful. How we are nothing in ourselves, powerless before Him and that we and everything else depends on Him — His power, His sacrifice, His word, His Spirit, His work.
13. Thus, when I realize I’m sinning, I try to waste no time feeling bad about what I’ve done.
“There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” Ro 8:1,2)
I just recognize that the sin nature has gotten the best of me once again, stop with whatever sin I’ve become aware of, and turn to the truth of God’s word, rejoicing that He died for that sin, and that as far as He’s concerned it’s gone, so I can forget about it as well and move on in the Christian life.
14. Which boiled down means: start believing the things He’s written in His word. Things such as…
God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Ro 8:28
He will never desert me nor forsake me ~Heb 13:5
Even when I am faithless, He remains faithful ~ 2 Ti 2:13
My living the Christian life doesn’t depend on me, but on His Spirit whom He sent to enable me to live it. Jn 14:6; 16:13; Gal 5:17; Phil 4:13