Sin, Repentance, and Walking in the Light
Our smallest offense deserves the full wrath of God. That’s hard to hear if we forget that God has not only covered our sin in Christ but also allows us to approach Him continually to receive that grace anew. We also know that God is holy—set apart in His perfection, glory, and majesty. We are sinners who sin every day. Our sin should grieve us but not condemn, because we serve a God who is good and gracious but also holy and just. So, what are we to do with this enigma of our sinfulness and God’s holiness that clings so close to us? Repent and receive God’s amazing grace.
God, the Boogeyman?
There it is again. That eerie dark shadow lurking in the closet. He seems so unpredictable. What might he do next? What might happen? Will he jump out and get me?
Those used to be my terrified thoughts as a young child. I would fearfully snuggle into my bed, waiting for the boogeyman to jump out of the closet and get me. When I became a Christian, I realized that much of the way I related to God was with that childlike fear of the boogeyman. I felt like I didn’t have much control over my life, but instead of realizing I was in the hands of a good and loving Father, I viewed Him as tyrannical. He had all the control, I thought, but the only love He showed was on the cross (which of course would have been enough). I really did think God was like the boogeyman hanging out in my closet, just waiting for the right moment to punish me or cause some harm.
How sad. If we only know God as the sovereign ruler of the world, then we might make the same mistake I did as a young Christian. It wasn’t until I understood the great love of God that I began to see His ways as good and loving. Yes, even those tough things in our lives come from God’s loving hand (1 Peter 1:3–9; Heb. 12:3–17). We can rest in the knowledge that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways, and yet He is still thoughtful of man (Ps. 8:4; Isa. 55:8).
We see evidence of this in Isaiah 55, which begins with an urgent call for us to come and drink: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (v. 1). God delights in meeting our needs (spiritual and otherwise). We have a Father who invites us to the throne of grace to receive help in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). And though I didn’t fully grasp the significance of the cross as a young Christian, I now understand that God displayed His ultimate love for us through the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. Is there a greater love than that?
God is not the boogeyman. He is the sovereign, loving, awesome God who came to redeem a people for Himself. He is good and loves us relentlessly. So, in response to our knowledge of His loving character, we discipline ourselves to repent daily of the sin for which Christ has already died.
Walk in the Light
One of the many side effects I’ve experienced from getting older is an inability to see the road while driving at night. Everything glows. If it rains, it’s as if someone is shining a bright light in my eyes. Like the responsible adult that I am, I have yet to go to an eye doctor. So, I’m driving around in the dark, blind as a bat.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do this as Christians. We’ve seen the light. The gospel has shined light into darkness. And this light isn’t disorienting; it’s a gift of grace that purifies and guides us.
But perhaps you’ve been walking around like you are still in the dark. God calls you to walk in the light. To walk in the light means to walk in the goodness and grace of God, living a life that is reflective of the Savior, and walking in a manner worthy of the gospel. Repentance is one of the clearest ways to walk in this light. The Apostle John tells us, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). To walk in darkness is either to walk with the knowledge of sin and ignore it or to walk as if we are completely without sin, never repenting (1 John 1:8). The grace of God allows us to not only acknowledge that we continue to struggle with sin, but also to turn from our sin.
We see clearly that our walking in the light isn’t perfect—not even close. We will never reach perfection on this earth. That’s why repentance is such a beautiful gift from our God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Oh, what grace. We confess our sins to God—acknowledging our great need for Him to turn us from our sin—and what does He do? He does what He’s already done—pours out the grace we need to change. His wrath was reserved for Jesus. We don’t receive punishment or wrath for our sins—we receive grace. There are, of course, consequences for sin, but even so, our standing before God doesn’t change. God is sovereign and rules over all.
He is holy, yet because of Jesus we can approach Him. Run, don’t walk, to the throne of grace. Don’t walk like a blind man while you can walk in the light that is available to you. Walk in the light. Confess your sin and receive grace. There is no condemnation for you.