The Pure Gospel – Absolution

By Jonathan Holmes

We live in a world where a person who admits their sins and weaknesses is considered cowardly. To actually say one is wrong is often viewed as a sign of frailty and feebleness. Why? Much of it is pride; and for those who are proud they see themselves as strong and ambitious and are willing to trample over anyone in their path for the sake of progressing oneself for any number reasons. Because of this public opinion, popularity, and the so-called “career” are the very things by which we find ourselves being defined. We think we must be strong candidates in these three classifications to show signs that we are winning at the “game of life.” These “successes” are how we show the family, friends, the world, even God that we are worth something. Everything hinges on what people think of us, how well they like us, and how good we are at our jobs – or at least that it appears that we are performing our professions well.

While we are to never discount such things as reputation and our jobs – we are after all called by God to fulfill our vocations to the best of our abilities in order to help people – we have let them take over our lives and the main focus. They are now what define one’s self. We let all of this define who we are because it’s what I end up doing that makes the difference. Right… Therefore, to confess sin and show weakness has no place in our lives because we are afraid that those sins and weaknesses will define us and the spot on the “likeability” scale will be much lower than we would like it to be. The problem: to do this is to reject what spirit we truly live as: sinners, fallen from the grace of God, and are now by nature rebellious teenage kids. Oh, we do our best to hide it with make-up and expensive clothes, or we search out others to blame for our mistakes. After all, look at all the other good that I do; this must surely pay for my sins! Or at least makes up for some of them.

To be in such a state of thought and philosophy is truly to be in a poor wretched existence, for you have denied the reality of who you are: lost and condemned apart from Christ. You reject the fact that there is nothing you can do about it, because you refuse to accept that God, if He is God, is truly incapable of being so hateful. You then start to define God your own way in order to fit the cookie cutter picture you have drawn of a “righteous” person. Dear sinner, this is the very definition of unrighteousness: to have other god’s beside the true God, the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You begin to see where your fear, love, and trust truly lie: in yourself and in man. Dear confused, mislaid outlaw, if you have not realized it yet, you will realize it soon enough: you and your fellow men are proud, hurtful, cruel, and spiteful by your fallen, sinful existence. It is by this nature you are a rebel against God because you think yourself more knowledgeable and wiser than the God who created the heavens and the earth. So I ask you: Where were you when God was creating the heavens and the earth? Who do you think you are? You, conceived and born under the sickness and genetic diseases of sin and death?

Repent my dear friends. Repent, or die. This is not a matter of black or white, grey or any other bland color, but a matter of fact and truth. The truth of your sinfulness will kill you and send you to eternal death one day if not kept in check. Therefore, repent. Confess your sins, and kneel before your king on His throne. Kneel before the judgment seat. Kneel before justice and beg for mercy. Confess before God that you are unworthy. Confess that you are corrupt in thought, word, and deed. Confess you are sinful by nature and that you cannot deliver yourself from your abhorrent and immoral condition. Confess that you need life that you know you cannot gain yourself. Confess, for your Lord is listening. Confess, for He is already prepared to answer back.

The Crucifixion by Tintoretto, 1565

What does He answer, you ask? “Almighty God, in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” God does not answer with a sentence of death. God does not send you to the hangman or any other executioner. Instead, He forgives you. He gives you life immortal. He shows and gives you His Son, Jesus. He takes you to the cross and shows you that your corruption is no longer yours, but has been placed upon the body of His very own Son hanging on the cross. This is the importance of confession and absolution. To confess our sins is to give our sinful nature up to the one who has seen to it that it was all conquered.

Jesus has spilled His blood for you. He has set you free from the tyranny of a corrupted nature. He wants that burdened conscience, every affliction that you live with day in and day out to be lifted and placed on the Son Jesus. God has revoked sin and death through Christ because it is the very thing you know you cannot rid yourself of. Please realize and take to heart those things that weigh upon your heart are no longer yours. The guilt, all the shame, Christ has taken it from you and placed it upon Himself. He has put the weight of it all upon His hands and His feet, not yours. That’s His love for you. It is a fact, no gimmick; it is the truth that you are His child and that He is now your Father. This is why He asks you to admit not just who you are as a sinner, but who He is as well: your Father. He asks to call upon Him as a dear child would ask their dear father. And this is the same Father who through the Son is your forgiveness, your life, and your salvation. This is His love for you. He is merciful to you. Why? Because God says it Himself: you are forgiven all of your sins.