A few weeks ago I was in a church service that had communion. As usual I spent some time in reflection as the bread and cup were passed around the congregation. Christians are encouraged to take that time to evaluate their hearts and express any sins they have by confess those to God. I have done this countless times. It has almost become a routine standard. Something happened this time though. A realization had hit me. I am really good at acknowledging my sin, but I am pretty bad at confessing it.
This may sound confusing. We often think that acknowledgment and confession are the same thing. Chances are if you asked for someone to define confession they would say that it is acknowledging something you have done. Confession is so much more than this.
Confession is a sign of genuine repentance. It is the idea that we admit we have sinned and go into a new phase of life where we strive not to perform that sin. In confession there is a measure of remorse. It is a somber yet freeing experience. Confession entails brokenness. Our hearts break because we have rebelled against God in our sin. We realize that there is a heavy weight to sin. It is a burden that we need to have removed.
Acknowledgment is different. I can acknowledge I have done something against God, but not truly confess it. Church pews are full of people who proclaim apologies on Sunday morning and perform the same sin Monday. It is not enough to recognize our sin. We must make a commitment to do something about our sin when we recognize it is there.
Jesus brought sin to light in others. It was not to express wrath, but rather to help people to recognize the severity of their sin. He did not want people to just acknowledge their flaws. Christ wanted us to do something about it. People look at the story of the woman caught in adultery and miss the main point. We hold that story up as a beacon against those who are judgmental of another’s sin.
Two things need to be recognized about this story. Jesus was not rebuking people for pointing out the woman’s sin. He was rebuking them for wanting to be the ones to cast out the sentencing. This story should never be used as a reason to avoid calling people out in their sin. The second thing is what is said at the end of the story by Jesus. Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”
Such grace and mercy were given to this woman, but there was also a command that was given. She was told to leave her life of enslavement to sin. Do not simply acknowledge this is wrong. Have remorse for your sin. Be broken up over it. Do not take your sin lightly. You need to move forward.
I’m not broken over my sin as much as I need to be. We only focus on the negativity of brokenness. We think brokenness implies we feel there is no hope in our situation. We think there should be no reason for brokenness in the life of the Christian. David was broken over his sin. The prophets tore their clothes and wept when their people were living a life of sin. Where are the tears in our world today over sin?
Prophets rebuked sin, but they were broken hearted over it first. There were tears before there was rebuking. Perhaps we need to have tears over sin before calling people out of their sin. This starts with the individual though. If I cannot come to a place of brokenness over my own sin then how could I ever be broken over another’s sin?