When I first became a Christian, I was told to, “Keep short accounts with God.”
Apparently, I was supposed to confess all the sins I committed to God every day. This struck me as odd. But I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and my Christian friends seemed to think it was a good idea, so I just went along with it. But it created a picture in my mind of God sitting in heaven like a Heavenly Accountant with a red pen ticking off my debts. What if I missed one, and didn’t confess all my sins?
Furthermore, some sins aren’t single acts and therefore more difficult to itemize, for example, wrong thinking and inappropriate attitudes. My struggle was also with “sins of omission”—lack of love, lack of tolerance, lack of faith. I didn’t find that merely confessing them changed anything. The other problem was, that I couldn’t imagine why God would be interested in hearing lists of everyone’s shortcomings. It wasn’t like God didn’t know. I found the exercise tedious and I wondered if God was bored too.
Then, one day I heard a sermon entitled, Up-to-the-Minute Forgiveness. It was life-changing. I learnt that I could live a guilt-free life. God isn’t the stingy accountant, meting out his grace sin by sin. His grace is abundant, not barely covering our sins, but it’s a river covering a multitude of sins. I don’t have to worry that I might die with unconfessed sin in my life because his grace covers all my sins.
God is so lavish with his grace, we can live guilt-free. We can be secure in the knowledge that his supply of grace is sufficient for all our sins—past, present, and future. God gives his grace richly, freely, recklessly, plentifully, and at times, ridiculously. He has a bottomless supply made available to us through the death and resurrection of his Son. This grace is pure gift. We never have to lift a finger to earn it and it’s always accessible, but do we avail ourselves of it? And what exactly is up-to-the-minute forgiveness?
John teaches us, “If we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If we’ve committed our lives to God, then we’ve committed ourselves to live in the light. There’s no mention of keeping a list of sins to confess but rather a continuous purification from sin as we live out our Christian walk.
The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were inadequate as an atonement for sin. The writer to the Hebrews writes, “But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year” (Hebrews 10:3). God always knew this, but he sought to teach his people an important truth. Anything we do is never enough.
We need a Savior. God didn’t want us to be constantly reminded of our sins. His plan through Jesus’ death and resurrection was that we would be released from our sins, so we could live without a guilty conscience (10:22). God has dealt completely with our sins. He has provided abundantly for us so that we live in a constant state of forgiveness and experience up-to-the-minute forgiveness.
Lord, your grace is amazing and we thank you that you give it richly, freely, recklessly, plentifully, and at times, ridiculously. You aren’t stingy with your grace but you make it available to us, without us having to earn it or wait for it.
Thank you for the bread that reminds us of your body broken for us so that we could be forgiven and live in a state of constant forgiveness.
Thank you for the cup that reminds us of your blood spilled out for us so that we would be empowered to live new lives as your saints.
In Jesus’ name
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