Several years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, and the deadly disease spread rapidly through his body. He had trusted in Jesus as his Savior and never doubted that he would spend eternity in heaven. But during a visit with friends in his last days, he confessed that he believed God was punishing him for sins he had committed after his salvation. Even after confessing his sins, he continued to struggle with some. He felt as though God had grown tired of his struggle and had decided to inflict punishment on him rather than continue to forgive him.
I think this dilemma is something many Christians experience at some point in life. It’s hard to believe that one can continue to ask forgiveness time after time for sins with which we struggle. We do not doubt the sufficiency of God’s grace to forgive the eternal penalty for sin. But can we trust God to forgive us over and over for sin we have confessed after we have been saved?
In his book, Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere writes, “Many people mistake the condemnation and accusation of the devil (Rev. 12:10) for the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When the devil speaks to us about our sins, he makes us feel worthless and condemned. He nags and whines. His impressions make us feel we have always been this way and will never change. When we confess our sins, he tells us that we are not sincere, that we have done these things before and confessed them, and that we will simply end up doing them again. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, he confronts us with the reality of our sin, but he brings hope through the blood of Jesus.”
God’s desire for us is that we do not sin. He knows that sin drives a wedge between us and God, and as long as we harbor sin in our hearts, we cannot walk in fellowship with him. He has given us instruction in the Scriptures as to how to live, and he has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us and to convict us of our sin. But he knows that we still have a sinful nature, and because of that, we will sin. As we learn to yield to the influence of the Spirit, the struggle will not be as great, but there is no one on earth who is able to live completely free of sin.
I John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is faithful. He is reliable and can be trusted to do what he says he will do. God is just. As the creator of all that is, God is right in all that he does. God has the right to forgive us and he has promised his forgiveness whenever we confess our sins to him. By confessing our sins to God, we are admitting that we have done wrong and that his way is right. When we do this, he does not stand over us in judgement, waiting to levy some sort of punishment for what we have done. He welcomes us back into his fellowship and washes away the filth that covers us. There is no limit to God’s willingness to forgive us when we come to him in confession.
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, but are struggling with sin, do not let Satan defeat you with accusations and thoughts of hopelessness. Get on your knees and confess your sins to God. He will forgive you, he will wash away the filth, and will restore you into a right relationship with him. You’ve trusted him with your salvation. Trust God to forgive you of your sin.