READ: Psalm 24, Isaiah 31-33, John 17, Acts 3
It is astonishing to think that Jesus prays for us (John 17:20). Jesus prays that we would be united in the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) that the world may believe in Jesus (v. 21). Our unity with one another (and thus, our fruitfulness in mission) is dependent on being individually united with God. There can be no endued fellowship in reaching the nations if our hearts are not right with Jesus. Acts 3:26 points out Jesus blesses us by turning us away from our iniquities. Repentance toward God is what opens our hearts to one another. Repentance towards God is what brings refreshing to the world.
It is our sin towards God that makes us sin against one another. When sin is reduced to primarily being against man it is diluted. The full reality of sin must be admitted and repented if man is to be at peace with God and fellow humans. Joseph recognized this when tempted by Potiphar’s wife: “How can I do this thing and sin against God?” he asked. David after murder and adultery said to God: “Against you and you only have I sinned.” Sin, even the “smallest,” is not finally dealt with until we admit that it is a grievous insult against a holy God. A guilt-based theology of sin recognizes that sin is horrible, even if it does not affect any other human or creature. Hidden, covered, private sins are just as eternally damaging to our soul as outward, public, grand transgressions. A shame-based theology of sin ranks sin according to its effect on others, but does not take the seriousness of God’s holiness seriously.
We can take no comfort that our sins are contained within our mind or heart. Just because our failings are private it does not mean they are blotted out. There is only one way for our ugly private acts to be stricken from God’s record: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Many followers of Jesus conceal and carry private sins for years, even decades–and all the time that private failure eats steadily away at their spirit. The passage of time does nothing to diminish the internal decay. Unconfessed sin dulls the presence of God toward us. Oh, the liberty and refreshing and freedom we feel when there is absolutely nothing in us that is covered. When we are at liberty with God, when there is this internal refreshing, which has resulted from repenting of ALL private sin, we are most suited to be unified with our brothers and sisters in God’s mission. The culmination of this repentance (and sealing of the refreshing) invariably includes the humbling of sharing our secret with another. It is the litmus test of our freedom–if we can share with meekness about our former bondage. It is what empowers us to unite with other broken family members in the pursuit of God’s comprehensive glory.