Okay, it's time for another checkup: but this one won't involve a visit to a doctor's office, or to an auto inspection station. Over a year ago, we discussed a matter which is, by its very nature, very easy to overlook: namely, the issue of "sins we don't confess." Although this matter is of very little consequence to unbelievers, it's of great importance to anyone living the Christian life, as it's described and defined in the Bible. It's certainly more important than remembering where we left our car keys, or deciding what we'll wear to work tomorrow.
In our previous post, we saw that a man or woman who has received Jesus Christ according to John 1:12, and has been born again (as Jesus phrased it in John 3:3-7), has the constant, daily opportunity (and obligation) to confess his or her sins, as well as they can be remembered. As we said then, this constant habit of confession is not a requirement of salvation, but it's an indescribably important part of maintaining our daily fellowship with God. And, since God is always eager to forgive, just as He was eager to save us in the first place, He makes it simple, if not always easy: If we confess our sins, God promises, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). That much is blessedly uncomplicated, and wonderfully gracious: if we confess the sins that we're aware of committing, He'll not only forgive those sins, but also cleanse us from the ones we forgot about - - - or didn't even realize we had committed.
But even with the best of intentions, even with a sincere and consistent desire to please God, we always slip up somewhere, don't we? It's not always in the area of "sins of commission," or bad things that we do; it's more often in the area of "sins of omission" - - - things we forget to do, or neglect to do, or perhaps refuse to do. We'll be concentrating on just a few of these sins in this post: because these are sins that Christians very rarely confess.
As I said in the previous post, it's not my desire or intention to make anyone feel guilty. If I mention certain sins of omission, it's because I'm so very conscious of having committed them myself - - - and I don't think I'm alone. A few examples; if you're a Christian man or woman, you'll be able to think of others:
Failure to ask. Every Christian is familiar with certain "great and precious promises" made by God in His word. Many of these involve asking God's blessing in a certain area, or making very specific requests: "Lord, please don't let the baby die." "Father, can You please give me a different job (or any job at all)?" "Jesus, please protect me in traffic today." And God wants us to ask Him these things. He's our loving Father, and as He said: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:7-11) There are many verses in the New Testament about asking God for this or that; sometimes, the word "ask" isn't used, but the thought is the same: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6). He even goes so far as to say, ye have not, because ye ask not (James 4:2).
But let's back up a moment. We've all read those verses, and often believed them. But did you ever realize that when Jesus says "ask ... seek ... knock" in Matthew 7:7 (an acrostic for "ask," by the way), He's giving us a command? Jesus Christ wasn't much on "suggestions" or "good advice:" He gave commands. And when we don't ask Him for the things we want, or need, or think we need, we're disobeying His command, which is repeated throughout the Bible. "Ask" is just as much a command as any other of our "marching orders;" and when we refuse or neglect to do it, it's a sin that needs to be confessed.
Disobedience of direct orders. The Christian life is not a picnic or a day at the fair; it's a race, a fight, a warfare. And, like any army, we have our orders. There are too many in the New Testament to list, so let's just mention one: Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11, 13). In the context, God tells us what the "whole armour" is, and what purpose it serves. But putting it on is not a one-time proposition: we don't don our spiritual armor the day we're saved, and then wear it the rest of our lives (would that we could!). We must put it on every day. What soldier wears the same uniform, or carries the same ammunition belt, throughout an entire war? They're constantly changing and replacing their gear, if it's available. When was the last time you consciously put on the armor of God, as described in Ephesians 6:13-17? If it wasn't today, then you're in a very vulnerable state - - - and you've refused a direct order, whether intentionally or not. That's something to confess, I think!
And, finally, for the purposes of this post.....
Wasting time. Ouch. That one hurts, doesn't it? Because we've all done it, and most of us do it habitually. I've been blessed to know a handful of Christians who were so faithful, and so zealous, that they wasted very little time. (There is a Christian gentleman named Sam Gipp who probably wastes as little time as anyone I've ever met. But he is a very rare exception.) The next Christian I meet who's never squandered and frittered God's time away will be the first. But even if we didn't know, instinctively, that wasting time is wrong, God's word tells us very clearly what we are to do: See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). "Redeeming the time" is the opposite of wasting it; it's using our time for something useful, something that will bring glory to God, either in our own lives or the lives of others. Time is passing; we can either watch it go by, or we can use it. Again: Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5). Only the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, can tell you what is a proper use of time in your own life; it's not the same for every Christian. But if we know what we should be doing, and don't do it .... well, God's word doesn't give us any wiggle room: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17). A sin that needs to be confessed .... but seldom is.
By the grace of God, however, these sins, just like drunkenness or murder or gluttony or adultery, can be confessed and forgiven. God doesn't expect perfection from us in this life: For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). If there are sins that we haven't confessed, we simply need to start confessing them. And when we do, He'll forgive them, and even forget them.
What a Saviour! What a Lord!