Al & Lisa Robertson / Forgiveness  / You Are Not Your Sin

You Are Not Your Sin

By: Jill Dasher

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10)

If King David lived in the here and now, how would the church respond to his failure?

Confession seems to be a common theme woven throughout scripture over and over. Confession seems to be the means by which healing is found, chains are broken, and one is set free from their shame. So why then, in a world full of sinners, does shame often follow a confessing sinner? Is the shame we feel from God or perhaps from somewhere else? Let me break down my thoughts a bit.

I would say that if asked the question “are you a sinner?” the majority, if not all Christians, would answer “yes.” But then there seems to be a great divide between a “sinner” and, well, you know, a SINNER.

Is anyone picking up what I am putting down?

What I mean to say is that we typically have a general view of someone based on our perception of their “holiness.” Yes, we generalize them as sinners, but if they haven’t confessed to any of the “big” sins, then they are counted among the righteous. On the other hand, if the sin committed is not on our list of “accepted” failures, then it seems they are compartmentalized into the SINNER category. Please know that I am not writing this from the perspective of someone who has figured this out. No, I see this pattern in my own life and view of people at times.

My motivation behind this post would be the countless young people that have passed through my home over the years. Teenagers and young adults who are trapped inside the shame of their past and present sins. On one hand, they are living with shame due to their fear of confession. Their fear of being seen as imperfect or unrighteous, and so they hold it all in, attempting to pretend their way through Christianity. A life of pretending is leading to shame and anxiety which produces more shame and anxiety. If people really know who I am and what I have done, what would they think about me? Furthermore, what does God really think about me? Being unsure if we want to know the answer to these questions causes us to will away the Holy Spirit’s prodding to confess.

On the other hand, there are those who have confessed and felt the freedom of God’s amazing grace while at the same time they experienced rejection and judgment from the very ones who were supposed to be embracing them. This often causes us to feel “pegged” by our sin. The feeling that we will always be known through the lens of our failures. Good grief, if we can’t manage to take a good thing and make it bad. We just cannot seem to get it right. Therein lies our dilemma: We are incapable of getting it all right; we are, every single one of us, sinners.

David was known as a man after God’s own heart. How in the world could a lying, adulterous murderer obtain such a title as this? What was it about David that the Lord looked upon with delight? It was David’s desire for Truth and Holiness that caused the Lord to look upon him with favor. It was his humility and ultimately his desire to be with Him. It was because David wanted to be in the presence of the Lord.

David knew that he was a SINNER.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:2-3) 

He did not try to hide who he was before the Lord. He readily confessed his shortcomings and longed for the Lord to change him. He desired to be changed.

Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit, then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will be converted to you. (Psalm 51:10-13) 

I am quite sure that David suffered judgment from critics after his change of heart. Surely there were some among the crowd that refused to believe that he was a restored man, but it was not their approval that he was seeking.

When we place the burden of proof in the hands of broken vessels, we are destined to live in our shame. If David would have waited to find the most perfect moment for confession, where everyone would have readily received and accepted him with open arms, then he would have died in his sin. Likewise, if he had entertained in his heart everything that was being said about him, it would have been very easy to live in the identity of who the world was saying that he was.

If he was living in the here and now, such a prominent figure as he was, no doubt the internet would be buzzing. Highlight reel after highlight reel of the fallen man. We have even coined the phrase “oh how the mighty have fallen,” almost as if to relish their demise. But, in truth, we are all fallen. To what degree, you ask? Well that just depends on your personal scale. But in comparison to an infinitely perfect creator of the universe, I would say that we all fall infinitely short of worthy.

So, what’s the takeaway? To those who are in need of confessing, confess. When you confess sin, there will be healing. That does not mean that everyone will handle your confession in the most perfect way — we are imperfect people. Confess anyway, and love your enemies anyway.

To those who have confessed sin and are still living in the shame of how others may view them, I would say to shift your focus upwards. The opinions of men are not nearly as important as what your creator thinks of you. Refer to the scripture at the beginning of this post. God is in the business of forgiving and then cleaning us up. He is the cleanser of unrighteousness. This rarely takes place overnight, but YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN. That is not who you are. It may be what you have done, but it is not WHO YOU ARE. Create in me a clean heart. This was David’s plea before the Lord. A calling out to God. He is the one who can change you and me.

To the body of Christ as a whole, Lord help us to be better at loving one another. Help us to look upon the confession of others as a beautiful work of You upon their heart. Help us to be just as present in their hurting as we are in their thriving. Help us to run from slander and run toward Truth. Help us to cast light and not shame. Lord help us be a safe place for confession.