“But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.” —1 John 1:9
Have you said those words to yourself lately or ever? The power and grace in those simple words are awe-inspiring.
Daniel understood this. He analyzed Jeremiah’s words and recognized that there was no quick way back to the way things were. Daniel, being the faithful God-follower that he was, likely wasn’t eager to the way things were, as they hadn’t been working, especially in regard to Israel’s relationship with God.
Daniel recognizes—confesses—that Israel went its own way and purposefully ignored the voice of God through the Scriptures and the prophets. Unlike many people, whether Jeremiah’s, Daniel’s, or our day, Daniel notes that it is not the fault of God that Israel (or anyone) wanders away from God. Especially in the case of Israel, there was no blaming God. The penalties and (ultimately) exile were the result of the path Israel chose to walk in spite of God’s persistent voice calling them to repentance.
Repentance may be a bigger stumbling block than confession. The Roman Catholic practice of confession could lead to a confession of words without repentance of the heart. Roman Catholicism isn’t the only one. The opening words of 1 John are stated weekly in the Lutheran churches. Other words of confession are spoken in other liturgical traditions (Orthodox, Episcopal, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.). People say these words, but they may not actually repent of that which they confessed.
Most Evangelical traditions, like the Church of the Nazarene, don’t have a confessional creed. The confession has moved into specialized small groups (general Bible studies not fitting that mold), where people actually live life together. Here repentance has the opportunity to occur in ways other methods often don’t. In these groups, we can be shaped personally and be held accountable.
- Thinking about your confessional, repenting, and changing activities, where can you improve?
- How would you rate the difficulty of each: confessing, repenting, changing? Why in that order?
Holy Spirit, guide our hearts to confess and repent all that we have done against your will for our lives. Work in us and through others in our lives so that we are shaped from the inside out into Christ-shaped people. Amen.