February 3, 2014

The Remedy for Idolatry (and all other sin)

Psychologist Carl Jung is not what anyone would call a biblical counselor; however, he comes close with his thoughts about sin. He says . . .
As soon as man was capable of conceiving the idea of sin he had recourse to psychic concealment, or to put it in analytical language, repressions arose . . . We conceal it even from ourselves. It then splits off from consciousness as an independent complex to lead a separate existence in the unconscious where it can neither be corrected nor interfered with by the conscious mind. It is only with the help of confession that I am able to throw myself into the arms of humanity, freed at last from the burden of moral exile. The goal of treatment by catharsis is full confession — no mere intellectual acknowledgment of the facts, but their confirmation by the heart and the actual release of the suppressed emotions.

Jung is right; the only remedy for sin and guilt is confession, but he left God out of it. The Bible would add repentance or turning from sin to God because sin is rebellion against Him. Confession alone brings forgiveness and cleansing, putting us into the arms of God and freeing us from sin’s burden . . .  

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5–10)

If the sin involves others, such as stealing, insulting people, or hurting them in some way, then the confession must also be made to those involved. When I offend others, I need to be reconciled to them even before I seek God’s forgiveness.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21–24)

There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. The right way is a specific confession that has no other motivation than to make things right with God. He says, “Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 3:13)

King Saul offers an example of the wrong way. He disobeyed God and when the prophet Samuel caught him, he was stripped of his position as king. Saul was sorry, not so much that he sinned against God but that he lost his position of king and the privilege of leadership. He came to Samuel with his excuses, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 15:24–25)

The human heart is an idol-making factory (John Calvin) and in the process of making idols, I will certainly break the first commandment to love God, and even the second, to love others. God knows that the heart can churn out these idols easily and rapidly. The remedy has to be greater than the sin, and for those who believe in Jesus Christ it is greater, but also simple and powerful. Because Jesus died for my sin and secured my pardon, then each time an idol rolls off the assembly line and my heart is filled with horror at what my mind has produced, I can come to Him in contrite confession, knowing that if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. There is no other remedy.


Peter Brown said...

We can recall that Carl Jung was asked on tv whether he 'believed in God'; he answered 'I don't need to "believe", I know'. I have always found that a powerful testimony.

LC said...

Thanks, Peter. I was not aware of Jung saying that. His bio information says he was a pantheist, obviously not a follower of Jesus Christ. He was well-educated in many religions.
Note that while knowing God exists is important, be aware of James 2:19 and how saving faith goes beyond that knowledge. :-)