Today’s verse is 1 John 1:9.
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Okay, I’ll be honest, even though I’m probably going to reveal how much of a terrible Christian I am (lol). I didn’t think of grace and peace and repentance when I read this verse this morning. In all honesty, the very first thing I thought of when I read this verse is the well-known Monty Python skit, “The Spanish Inquisition.”
We grew up with Monty Python, and I think it’s all pretty hilarious. But this was one of those that sticks with you.
Obviously, it’s a humorous take on a real historical group that did horrible things to torture confessions out of innocent people. It was founded in 1480, and it became well known for forcing confessions out of people. Monty Python’s group had some fun with this in a couple of skits, trying to force confessions out of people with terrifying orders of “poke her with the fluffy pillows!” or “put her in the comfy chair!” I still remember laughing as I watched these crazy guys wearing red poking this old woman with a pillow, chanting, “Confess! Confess! Confess!”
Forced confessions aren’t real. They never are. Maybe in the movies. Or if Jack Bauer is interrogating you, then they’d be real. But in real life, whenever you force someone to confess something, generally you can’t trust it.
Have you ever said you’re sorry for something and didn’t really mean it? I know I have. I have definitely apologized to someone simply to placate them, when deep in my heart I wasn’t sorry at all.
If you’re not really sorry for something, isn’t it a good idea to forgo apologizing for it until you actually regret doing it? Until you have an earnest wish not to do that sort of thing again? Apologizing for it before you really feel sorry about it is dishonest. Saying you’re sorry before you mean it doesn’t really accomplish anything.
If we’re sorry for something, that means we change our minds about our actions or our thoughts; changing our minds about our actions or thoughts means that we realize they were wrong, that they’ve hurt others, and that we are committed to never repeat those thoughts or actions again. It doesn’t always mean we’ll succeed. But we can certainly try.
That’s what the Greek word for repentance actually means. I don’t know if I’m spelling it right, but it’s transliterated metanoya. A change in thinking. People would have you believe that repentance is this giant, overly emotional show of deep feeling. It’s not. It’s a quiet change deep in your own heart and mind that shows you’ve thought about what you’ve done and come to the realization that it was wrong. And that you’ve vowed to stop doing it.
What’s more, repentance is between you and God. It’s not something that other people should get involved in. It’s not our responsibility to make other people confess their sins. One, because we can’t. Two, because we can’t see their hearts or minds to know if their “confession” is real. Three, we have our own sins to repent from, so how can we judge others for theirs?
Now . . . is it wrong to call a friend out on their sin when they know it’s wrong? No. It’s our responsibility as Christians to keep each other accountable. But if that friend still refuses to repent and turn from what they’re doing, you’ve done everything you can and now you have to give them up to God.
It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
But I can tell you this. When you repent — seriously turn from the things that you’ve done — there’s a change in you. We think we’re so smart. We think we’re so wise, living our lives the way we want to live. But we don’t know anything. We are so happy doing what we know is wrong because it makes us feel good, but the Bible isn’t kidding and God isn’t making up the fact that what we sow, we’ll reap. A harvest of it. The exact same thing we planted in abundance much later down the road.
Doing what feels good now even though we know it’s wrong will result in consequences for ourselves, our families and our friends years down the road.
But God is in control; He knows what He’s doing. (Goodness, I think this should be the slogan for this silly devotional blog since I swear I write it down every morning. Maybe it’s because I’m trying so hard to believe it.) But on top of that, He also knows what we are doing. He knows what we are thinking. He knows when we’re really, honestly sorry. And He knows when we’re faking it.
And when it all comes down at the end, it won’t be the Spanish Inquisition we face. It will be Him.