Confession is not a Loophole


As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, a loophole is “an opportunity to legally avoid an unpleasant responsibility, usually because of a mistake in the way rules or laws have been written.”  I saw this word “Loophole” as the word of the day, and it took me back to those preschool and elementary days when my three children were young, impressionable, and teachable.  As parents one of the things we wanted our children to know in real time, is the consequences resulting from each choice they make.  When they were obedient, they were blessed and often rewarded with an extra book at bedtime, etc.  When they were disobedient, they were punished in a way appropriate to the offense, like no reading of their favorite book at bedtime that night.  Even the word “punished” can cause some reading this article now to be offended in our modern world of “loopholes.”

In my observation of Christian circles over the last forty years, the concept of confession has been poorly taught, and loosely interpreted.  I know too many people who live in a world where 1 John 1:9 is used like a get-out-of-jail free card, and play it often as a loophole to presume on God’s grace with no consequences.  What does this verse actually say?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Like a pig who spends all day wallowing in the muddy dung floor of their stable, when we disobey God’s Word or Will, we become dirty, stinky, and unclean in God’s nostrils. There is not only a penalty (punishment) for this action, but also a consequence resulting from the action.  Disobeying God’s will, in the simplest of terms even Adam came to understand in the Garden, results in (consequently) broken relationship with God.  Adam could not claim there was a “mistake in the way rules or laws have been written” because God’s laws are perfect. (Psalm 119:138) And for Adam there was only one.

While there seems to be a sense at some point in the Genesis story that Adam and Eve were repentant, and God acted to cover them and save them, their confession did not take away the consequence of their actions.  So, if confession is not a loophole, then what is it?  I suggest the answer is found in the “attitude” of how a true Christ followers wields 1 John 1:9.

The kind of confession found in 1 John 1:9 brings with it two distinct grace born benefits to the person who comes in true repentance to the words of their confession.  First, by seeing their disobedience as “sin” and owning it, when this person confesses they appropriate that forgiveness of God provided through Jesus death on the cross.  This appropriation of payment for their sin is required by law.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  (cleansing 1 John 1:9)

Second, in this attitude of true repentance, and turning back to God for their forgiveness, they not only are cleansed, but this confessing action results in restoration of their relationship with God.  Once again the Christ follower can walk and talk with God in joy, peace and contentment that the relationship is no longer estranged.

Neither the appropriation of God’s cleansing grace, nor the forgiving nature of restored relationship with God, circumvent consequences that result naturally from disobedience.  Sometimes the boat sinks.  Sometimes cancer strikes, homes are lost, children die, wars rage, divorce papers are served, and jobs lost… and sometimes it comes as a natural result of disobedience.

True repentance, resulting in true confession, will always have cleansing restorative power in our lives.

It is not a loophole to avoid the consequences of our choices or actions.


Wild About Golf

Daily Post: Enamored


The Senior Men’s Golf Association (SMGA) at Lake Park Golf Course played a Texas Shamble yesterday.  This format is a modification of the “scramble” format, in that each team must use each of the 4 team-member’s drives at least 3 times in the 18 holes, but includes par 3’s for the count.  This is a serious challenge for the high-handicapper, but also evens the field a little more than the average scramble tournament.  Our team shot -7 for the tournament, but more than that, we had a great deal of fun.  I think that one of our guys got upset a time or two, when our “A” (9 handicap) player ran roughshod over which ball our team would play.  But hey, it’s a game right, so he chilled and we went on.

Some people say “I love golf.”  These people are crazy.  What they really mean is, “I’m enamored with the idea that I can play the game of golf well.”  “Well” is the operative term here.  Obviously “well” is determined subjectively by the player, not objectively by the player’s partners.  Most of the guys in the SMGA are out there every Tuesday to share some camaraderie with their buddies, and have been doing so for years now.  They play some golf, share some laughs, give each other a hard time, but few play the game “well,” if the objective observer would be say a tour player on television.  They are just out there for the “love of the game.”  But golf can be a brutal game.

There’s a phrase that golfers use to describe a shot they make, with which they are extremely satisfied.  “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”  If the drive goes down the middle and far enough, you might hear your partner say, “You busted the cover off that one.”  If you put your 9-iron, 125 yard approach shot 3-feet from the pin, you might hear your partner say, “Well stuck! That’s tight!” When you make a 30-foot, left-to-right breaking putt for “birdie,” you might hear “You’re on fire!”  To which you would respond, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

It is at this point that we are smitten with the idea that we can repeat this performance every time we strike the ball.  At times, the streak of well-struck shots continues for several holes.  Other times, a birdie putt may be followed by a drive from the next tee box, directly into the woods, the water, or the sand.  In which case, we are a little less enamored with golf, but refuse to quit trying!

A good friend of mine likes to see all of life though the lens of golf.  He does this because what brought him to Christ in the first place, was the concept of “mulligans.”  He and I played a lot of golf before he took the step of faith into Christ.  But he did, because Romans 5:20-21 spoke to him from the fairways and greens.

Romans 5:20-21
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My friend calls this the “mulligan verse.”  It just finally made sense to him, that his efforts at living this life perfectly was never going to happen.  He was going to “skull” one off into the rough, or he was going to “slice” one into the water, or he was going to miss the inevitable 3-foot put for par, while trying to be perfect every time.  The Law of God is perfection, and only one person ever kept it perfectly… Jesus.

Through my friend’s eyes, it seems crystal clear that none of our lives are perfect.  We can’t ever be.  Yet God offers unlimited mulligans to those who are in Christ Jesus.  The very phrase “grace abounded all the more” was written for duffers in life, like you and me.  I’m enamored with the game of golf because it is such a vivid image of my walk with God.  I try really hard to do it right every time.  I get close to doing it as well as I can at times, and usually say, “That’s the one that keeps me coming back.”

When I don’t do it so well…
When I shank it into the hazard…
The most freeing thought comes back to me again, “grace abounded all the more.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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