There’s an old adage that goes like this: “Confession is good for the soul.” Well, I question whether it does the soul any good, but it certainly does relieve the pressure of guilt on one’s mind. Still, it is a fact that everyone does have a soul.
So, why is confession not also good for the soul?
When I think of confession, I immediately think of the Roman Catholic Church. I think of a liturgical rite that gives parishioners temporary relief — like AlkaSeltzer. But if a person doesn’t change what they eat, and goes back to the same table, their spiritual indigestion comes right back. “Have you gone to confession?” becomes a perpetual exercise.
Protestants have no parallel practice… Just keep going to Sunday Services. Somehow the congregants will change by some sort of osmosis… Maybe that’s why they can be so uptight. Their cell walls are impermeable. This weekly exercise becomes a maximum futility prison.
Not to exclude anyone, Nondenominational folks and Cynics, like agnostics and atheists, simply try to rationalize their way out of their guilt… “Everybody does it,” is their mantra. But no, not everybody does it… and they probably shouldn’t for their own health and welfare.
I think of all such avoidances like confessions, or the lack thereof, fit into the same Bible passage in 2 Timothy 3,”having a form of godliness,” but denying God’s power, God’s authority, so that that simply as a ritualistic form, nothing really changes. We have to repeat the processes over and over again to maintain our empty hopes. Some exclude such practices altogether, because they are entirely self-satisfied and need no confessing for forgiveness- from anyone or anything. I’d assess that that avoidance is not just self-satisfaction, but it is, instead, arrogance.
God requires confession of sorts, but not in the form we become use to. To obtain His forgiveness comes with different terms and conditions:
John the Baptizer, as he was called, said “Turn to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:2. Then, as recorded in verse 8, “Produce fruit that is consistent with repentance!”
Proceeding by rote just doesn’t accomplish the new birth.
Individuals have to fulfill the new terms and conditions. First, repent in genuine terms, and second, demonstrate the sincerity of the new condition you have committed to. Notwiths, there is a third dynamic.
You see, when does a person becomes a Born Again Believer? Has that person’s inner nature changed, or is it playacting? This dynamic of the inner man cannot be faked. By being granted this new nature, which is not at all like the old nature that we are born with, our attitude radically changes. Our mindsets become more fluid and accepting of the more transcendent ideals revealed by Jesus in the Bible. No longer is it a struggle to be good, but it becomes our new nature which only needs cultivation.
We are no longer stuck in the muck of human nature. We can grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. (see, 2 Peter 3)
The old human nature has an inclination to do selfish and unethical acts which demands constant efforts to suppress. The new nature has the inclination to do unselfish and right minded ethical acts which frees our feet from the muck. We can freely walk the path God sets before us.
Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!”
Galatians 6:15 — “What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”
Jesus said we must be born again to free us up to live in the reality of God. Being born with our mothers’ efforts, we can walk in the world. Then, being born with the efforts of the Spirit of God, we can walk in the realm of the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
How is one born by the Spirit of God? It’s entirely up to individual choice. On our part, a little introspection is required. A realization that, although we don’t exactly know the mechanics of how God does it, we have to turn to Him and not just to anybody or just to any philosophy, religion, or similar practice, but turn to God in the person, Jesus.
I suppose, asking and seeking in earnest whether or not God exists is a part of the process, too. It pretty much starts there.
Earnestness is key. Treasure hunters don’t just sit on their couch. They take action… “anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.
How does one know whether they are born again or not? I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not church membership. It’s not just mindlessly reciting the Evangelicals’ well-known “sinner’s prayer” or any such liturgical pantomime.
The changes in a person who has been truly born again are tangible. “You will know that you know that you know,” as the late Rex Humbard used to say. Short of that genuine assurance, something is still not right. So, let me try a revisit.
We still may be trying to be good, and we try and try through our own self efforts to prove ourselves worthwhile human beings, but we crash up against walls that limits our success. There are lots of walls. Peer pressure, personal failures, criticisms from others, and so many more barriers that we seem to constantly and continually bounce off. Perhaps we become discouraged and worse,we give up and our failed hopes becomes cynicism…
If I am remembering correctly, our High School class motto was something about becoming all we could be, and our anthem was “Climb Every Mountain.” Yet, accomplishing those noble goals may not have been as successful as we had hoped. Everyone falls short. The more important aspect is our falling short of God’s goal, not some mountaintop.
Anyways, unless a person is born again, they will miss out on the whole new world and discovering the realm of God, the insights of the Bible, and of all His parental love and provision.
God has set a place for you and me at His banquet table. Please, RSVP.
Try to remember this key aspect of being born again: “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8–9.
Because we all fall short, He made a way for us to succeed in life, if a person is looking for more than material success. Few actually find it. Few actually look for it. So, individuals need to look all the harder for the way. Jesus will not force you to open the door of your heart. You must choose to open up for Him to come into your life. Nevertheless, He does not accept people who are worthy in their own eyes, party crashers, if you will.
No one is worthy enough to “deserve” the invitation to the banquet. Yet it is there. “Whosoever will may come.” Revelation 22:17. Here is the written invitation found in Matthew 11:28–30:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13.