December 11, 2014

Confession vs. Euphemisms

In a junior church class, I was talking about sin to children under six. One little girl with large brown eyes looked up at me and said, “But I’ve never murdered anyone.”

As cute as that sounds, the sad part is that minimizing sin starts young. Today’s devotional is about that, and warns about using euphemisms for sin. The examples: A lie is called a fib. Adultery is called love. Avoiding payment for something is called being smart. Fornication is called premarital sex, and blasphemy is called potty mouth.

The Bible is far more direct. Sin does include murder, which is not a surprise, yet some of the sins listed in the New Testament might shock some people . . .

“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21–23)  

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19–21)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31)

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:3–5)

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10)

“The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:9–10)

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish . . .  that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)

Who can honestly say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? (Proverbs 20:9) I cannot, yet I have heard people say that they did not sin, or do not sin, or have never sinned.

This is why John wrote: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8,10)

But this is also why he put verse 9 right in the middle of that: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Confess means ‘to say the same thing,’ that is, to call sin what God calls it. Confession is increasingly rare, but without it there is no forgiveness and there is no cleansing. In my humble opinion, 1 John 1:9 is perhaps the most important verse in the Bible, right up there with all the verses that tell us why God can forgive our sin.

At the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin, no matter what we call it. He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25) Denial and euphemisms push God away; drawing near means agreeing with Him.

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