In 1970, the hit movie Love Story made famous a line that caught the attention and affection of the world. The line was, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” What a great idea, but is it true? Have you found that to be true in your life? I haven’t. When we make mistakes, a simple “sorry” is sufficient. However, when we sin, more is required to restore relationships with our loved ones, and with our God. In these instances, even saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it!
In a teaching message at NorthPoint Church in Atlanta, Andy Stanley points out the difference between making a mistake and sinning. For us to truly find freedom from conflict in our lives and remove the logs from our eyes, we need to know the difference.
How many of us would say we’ve made mistakes in our past? All of us, right? A mistake is generally thought of as something that can be easily corrected. It’s just a wrong turn, a misplaced word, an unconscious act, something that can be remedied by a course correction or an apology. No big deal.
How many of us would say that we have sinned? Well, that changes things, doesn’t it? With a mistake, you just correct it. With a sin, you cannot just correct it, because the problem is deeper than what we think of as a mistake. The problem is personal: it’s you, it’s me. It’s part of who we are. Why can’t we do what we know we should, or why do we do what we know we shouldn’t? (Romans 7:14-20) We cannot change it because… we just can’t. It’s our nature. We know better, but we do it anyway. We have a deeper problem. Jesus identifies it as sin.
The logs that we need to remove from our eyes are bigger than mistakes that we have made. At the root of the conflict is often sin . As long as you think you are a “mistaker,” you will never seek the thing you need most to restore relationships or to resolve conflicts. What is the thing you need? You’ve acknowledged you’ve made a mistake, but “sorry” doesn’t restore the relationship because mistakes do not require forgiveness. Sin does. We must acknowledge and embrace the fact that there was a sin, which makes us “sinners.” The only way to be restored is to seek forgiveness because you didn’t only make a mistake, you sinned, and it wasn’t the first, or the only, time.
Jesus taught frequently on the topic of sin, and the essence of his message was, “You think you did some bad stuff, but you don’t even know the half of it. I’m here for sinners, but you must acknowledge your sin. God loves doomed sinners. However, you’ll never know me (or him) unless you acknowledge your sin.” 1 John 1:9 says, “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.”
King David, Jesus’ ancestor, knew this first hand.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
Our sin is part of who we are, as David acknowledges, and only our identification with Christ relieves us of that sin nature. Our job is to recognize that we have sinned, not just made some mistakes. Our problem is deeper, much deeper, and we can only trust Christ and his righteousness to remove it from us. When we turn and repent, we find that, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). That is cause for rejoicing, because Jesus took our sin to the cross, and we are free!
Can you acknowledge your “mistakes” as sin before God? How about confessing them to another person? Why or why not?
Do you believe that Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross? If so, how does that make you feel? If not, do you know a Christ follower you trust to talk with about this?
In 12 step recovery programs, the 4th step is to take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 5 says we admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs; and Step 6 says we are ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Spend some time thinking honestly about how your actions have affected your relationships, acknowledge those wrongs to God (he already knows, so don’t think you’ll surprise or shock him), and even confess to and ask forgiveness from those you have hurt.
Lord God, I ask your forgiveness for the sins I have denied and made light of. I thank you that by the blood of my Savior, Jesus, all my sins are forgiven by you. Help me acknowledge my sin to those whom I have hurt, and I beg that you restore my broken relationships as only you can. Help me accept that I can only do what I can do, and trust you to do the rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook here.
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