Cavities can’t be forgiven

God gave me a trip to the dentist. Maybe that’s not what you would pray for, but I needed to go. And I didn’t have insurance to cover it, so when I found out that my former employer had underpaid on my 401K and was issuing a check to make up for it, I hoped it would be enough for a visit.

Surprise! It was! Such a huge blessing. And it arrived exactly when I needed it, and it was just the amount I needed for the exam. God is good, ain’t He?

But this post isn’t about going to the dentist. Well, it sort of is. Mainly because I had a random thought while the cute little dental assistant was scraping the plaque off my teeth. You can’t cover up whether you’ve been brushing your teeth or not.

When we were little, my brother and I were always very careful to brush our teeth, but my mom always insisted that we brush our teeth thoroughly before we went to the dentist. Somewhere in my strange little child brain, I thought that brushing my teeth before I saw my dentist would erase any of the times I had forgotten to do it.

I didn’t quite understand it, though, because if I could brush my teeth once and cover up the fact that I hadn’t been brushing regularly, what was the point of brushing regularly? That being said, I was an obedient child. So I brushed my teeth.

I’m ashamed how long it took me to figure it out. I think I was in college by the time I realized brushing your teeth before you went to the dentist was less a cover-up and more a courtesy. Brushing your teeth once doesn’t undo six months of not brushing at all. That’s impossible. But what it does is get the top layer of food and such out of your teeth to help your dentist out with the cleaning.

It won’t do anything to take care of the mess under the surface.

And as I lay under the scraper, listening to the dental assistant scratch off the layers of plaque (in spite of brushing nightly!), I thought about sin.

My brain is weird. But hang with me.

Because how many of us treat sin the same way we treat brushing our teeth?

We cheat. We lie. We steal. Whatever we do, we know God said not to do it, and we do it anyway. That’s sin, and we all do it. Repeatedly. (Romans 3:23)

That’s where talking to God comes in. Confessing our sins. Telling God what we’ve done, telling Him that we’re sorry (and actually being sorry about it), and asking for His help so that we don’t do it again. (1 John 1:9) Sometimes you get an accountability partner to hold you to the mark, someone who will check up on you and make sure that you haven’t slipped back into doing what God says is wrong.

That’s like brushing your teeth daily. That’s a habit, a routine, of following Jesus, of doing what He says, and trusting Him to bless you for it. It’s a lifestyle.

If you let all those things pile up without confessing them, though, you’ll be a mess inside. If you hold on to all those sins, all those choices you’ve made that go against what God says is right, your heart will be hard and cold and dark. (Matthew 23:28) And maybe you can clean yourself up on the outside. Maybe you can put on the nicely pressed clothes of a Churchgoer. Maybe you can pass as devout and dedicated. And on the surface you can look for all the world like the greatest Christian in history, but underneath you’re rotten to the core because sin has taken root in your life.

You can’t erase your sin. You can’t just brush it away, sweep it under the rug, ignore it like it doesn’t matter. It always comes back to haunt you. And you can try to cover it up as much as you like, but eventually the truth will come out. (Numbers 32:23)

The main difference here is that cavities can’t be forgiven. But your sins can.

If you’ve screwed up your teeth, they’re screwed up for good. Worst case scenario, you’ll lose them all and have them replaced.

If you’ve screwed up your heart, ask God for a new one. God’s the only one who can wash away sins, but you have to bring them to Him first. No matter what they are. No matter who you hurt. No matter how long it’s been. He’s listening. He knows anyway. And He’s waiting for you to come to Him. (Romans 10:9)

So stop trying to cover up what you’ve done wrong. Tell God about it. It’s not like He isn’t already aware. He’s just waiting for you to come clean, so He can make you clean inside.


I don’t usually do this. But this morning I was so caught up in blogging about the first part of 1 John 1:9 that I totally ignored the last part of the verse.

And the last part of the verse is the most important.

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.

If we confess.

If we say we’re sorry and we meant it and we repent and turn from the bad things that we’re doing . . . .

God is faithful.

If we confess, He’s faithful. He won’t turn us away. He won’t scorn us. He won’t reject us. No matter how far away we have fallen from Him, He is always faithful to us.

He is faithful to forgive us.

How? Because He’s perfect.

Why do you have to apologize the person you’ve wronged? Because you are the one who’s done wrong. You are the one who needs to be forgiven for something you’ve done or said. You have to ask forgiveness of the innocent person you’ve hurt.

We have all turned against God. To be forgiven, we have to ask for it.

And not only will He forgive us, He’ll restore us.

Getting to the point where you’re willing to confess is important, but knowing that God will forgive you no matter what is even more important.

And I just thought I needed to mention that.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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.