My little girl was always skinning her knees. From the moment she learned how to walk and say the word “park” the indoors could not contain her. It seemed like every time we went outside she would stumble and scrape her knees. She would cry. I would console her, take her inside, and then get her a bandaid. So it wasn’t long before the first word out of her mouth after a fall was, “Bandaid!”. Then pretty soon she wanted a bandaid for any tiny bump or bruise. The band-aid offered a calming fix to her troubles. If we aren’t careful this is the misguided approach we can take to God’s forgiveness.
God chooses to forgive us on two levels: Relationship and Fellowship. Through salvation in Jesus Christ our Sin, fallen identity, debt can be forgiven. All the Sin that ruled our identity can be forgiven by placing our faith in the work of Christ on the cross. This act of God’s forgiveness allows us to have an eternally right relationship with Him. He calls us family. The problem is, we don’t always act like His family.
But our sins, our on going acts of rebellion, seperate us from living from our new identity in Jesus. So we need an ongoing way to re-commune with our true Identity in Jesus after we sin. When we turn to sin we turn away from fellowship with God. Sin at it’s simplest is self-worship instead of God worship. So when we chose sin we chose to ignore the benefits of God’s truth, power, joy, and presence. Confession helps us reinstate our desire to be one with God’s heart again. And God promises that when we call on His name, He always answers. (Matt. 7:7-11) He cleanses us from our recent sin and restores us to fellowship with Him. This “fellowship” forgiveness of God is necessary on our behalf to restore our focus to where it should rightly be, on God. I’m thankful for God’s willingness to “create in me a clean heart and restore a right spirit within me” as David prayed in Psalm 51.
But here is the part that has me concerned; it’s all too easy to treat God’s grace like a bandaid. Every time you mess up you may feel like as long as you ask God to forgive you that it doesn’t matter anymore. You may be committing the same sin over and over and using God’s forgiveness like a quick fix. In one sense 1 John 1:9 is only a bandaid. God is after so much more than just cleansing your behavior. He wants to transform your heart. And the reality of scripture is that just asking for forgiveness after every time you sin isn’t transforming you. Like my little girl who goes right back to running around outside after she gets her bandaid you and I often just go right back to those situations, attitudes, or decisions that get us into sin.
Habitual sin is a mockery of God’s grace and an epic misunderstanding of salvation.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans chapter 6, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?”. He answers this questions with a resounding, “Absolutely not!”. If we continue to sin in an area of our life and think that a quick fix bandaid of fellowship forgiveness is enough then we have missed the heart of God! Paul writes later in Romans that we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are not transformed by forgiveness we are transformed by obedience and worship. We are transformed as we live out of our new identity in Jesus instead of going back to who we once were. To let Jesus live in us and through us takes a whole-hearted submission to the will of God. God’s goal for you is not to sin less, it’s for you to gain Him, all of Him. To journey down the path to embrace all that God is we need repentance.
Repentance is best described as a “change of direction”. Confession is merely “to agree”. We must go beyond agreeing with God that one specific sin was wrong and change direction from it altogether! The problem goes beyond the specific sin and into your heart. There are reasons why you keep sinning, why you keep doing the same selfish and stupid things over and over. That’s what needs to be addressed. Maybe you need less bandaids and more gaping wounds for you to realize you need the transformation of God. You need a change of direction not just apologies for your behavior.
Ask God to reveal the sin in your heart that is causing all those scrapped up knees. Open your life and your heart right now with the willingness to change direction and see God’s goals for you in a whole new way.