We are each on our own individual journeys with God down here. It’s important to realize this because as nice as community can be, when it comes to spiritual matters, it’s just you and God. In eternity you will be judged by your own spiritual choices—not by anyone else’s. How you will experience eternity is being decided by the spiritual choices you are making right now. It is vital to understand how personal your journey with God is, because then you will understand why focusing on someone else’s journey with God is a complete waste of time.
Your relationship with God is like a marriage. When you start focusing on some other Christian’s walk, you’re acting like the wife who spends all day spying on the neighbors and trying to figure out what they’re fighting about instead of paying attention to her own husband. What some other soul is or isn’t doing with God is none of your business. You have your own relationship with God and that is what you need to stay focused on.
Rebellion is the biggest threat to your relationship with God. Rebellion is not a set of behaviors, but an internal soul attitude which says, “I don’t care what You want, God. I’m doing what I want to do and You can just stuff it.” A man might be caught up in some obviously sinful behavior, yet he is not a rebel in God’s eyes until his soul adopts this hostile attitude towards God. There are many souls on this planet who look quite rebellious on the outside, yet in their souls they are longing to do right. This is why humans are such lousy judges of each other—we can’t see a man’s soul, therefore we can’t see how he really feels about God.
Humans are very gullible, and we use this fact against each other all the time. When you look around at a sea of Christians sitting in a church, you have no idea who really cares about God and who doesn’t. Even when you hang out with your own friends, you don’t see their souls interacting with God. When it comes to the things that really matter in life, God has intentionally blinded your eyes so that the only soul you know about is your own. Your own relationship with God is the only one you have control over, and it is the only one you can change. You can make choices that will improve your own walk with God, but you can’t make choices for anyone else. When God convicts you of sin, you can do something about it. When God convicts someone else of sin, you can’t do anything about it. When you lose sight of this fact, you end up caught up in activities which are a complete waste of time.
When God convicts you of sin, He wants you to sincerely agree with His assessment of your behavior. For the Christian, confession is not about repentance, nor is it about asking for forgiveness. Confession is simply agreeing with God’s assessment of a situation and it is something we do in response to God, not in response to a guilt trip we heard on Sunday morning.
In the Church today, you are constantly being taught to try and take the lead in your relationship with God. This is a complete reversal of what God wants. God always leads, He never follows. In every area of your relationship with Him, God initiates. But instead of teaching you to wait for the Holy Spirit to tell you when He has a problem with something you’re doing, the Church tells you to get up in the morning and start confessing every sin you can think of. Always the Church is telling you to lead God. God wants you to wait for Him to inspire you about reading the Bible, so the Church tells you that you must do daily devotions. The Church teaches that you can make God talk to you by simply opening the Bible—which she promotes as His figurative mouth. God wants you to follow His promptings about what church to go to and when, so the Church tells you that if you’re not in fellowship every Sunday morning, you’re a rebellious slacker. Do you see how the Church is constantly pushing you to assume the alpha role in your walk with God? You decide when He will talk to you, you decide how He will work through you, you decide when the two of you will discuss outstanding sin issues. And yet any system that puts you in the lead position is complete garbage to God. God will not be led by you. God gives the orders, He does not take them. So the sooner you stop confusing the Church with God, the better, because the Church is going to lead you totally astray.
Not only does the Church want you to lead God around in your own walk with Him, she also wants you to try and lead Him in His relationship with others. This is where we get into this rot about confessing the sins of other people. The Church teaches you that it is very biblical and right to stick your nose into someone else’s spiritual business and try to control their dynamic with God. Well, this might be biblical, but it isn’t right.
Realize that most of the souls you read about in the Bible are rebellious twerps. The huge mob Moses led about in the desert, and the large crowds we find weeping and wailing to God in Judges, Nehemiah, and Ezra—these people don’t really care about pleasing God. When they’re up against it, they just say what they think He wants to hear in order to manipulate Him into helping them. As soon as He does, the people go right back to despising Him. Now sometimes the souls doing the confessing actually care about God—like Nehemiah and Moses. But no matter how much someone cares about God, He isn’t going to let them control His relationship with someone else.
Confession is about agreeing with what God says. Rebellion is about rejecting what God says. In the Old Testament, the Jews were constantly rejecting what God said. They decided that worshiping other gods and burning their children alive was just fine. They decided that murdering God’s prophets in broad daylight, cheating widows, abusing orphans, and perverting justice were all totally acceptable activities. In the Old Testament we find generation after generation of Jews rejecting God’s definition of sin until Yahweh finally creates some crisis that scares the pants off of everyone. Suddenly the Jews are frantic to get back on Yahweh’s good side, so they start confessing their sins and the sins of their ancestors. What they are really doing is realigning with God’s definition of sin. Through the mouths of His prophets, Yahweh told the little jerks over and over again how ticked He was about the many sins that were being committed. He listed specific actions that the Jews were doing which He found offensive. Later on in the midst of a crisis, we find frantic rebels going back over those lists and publicly agreeing with God that all those wrong actions were, well, wrong. How big of them. And after stating the obvious for hours on end and whipping themselves up into an emotional lather, the Jews thought they had successfully duped Yahweh into thinking they sincerely cared about pleasing Him. But of course they really didn’t, and as soon as the confession party was over, we find the little twerps going right out and returning to all the sins they just got through confessing. We find them marrying demon worshipers and praying to gods other than Yahweh. We find them cheating each other and despising God’s priests. We find them desecrating His Temple and refusing to give the tithes He commands.
Now because human leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah were fooled by the phony confession sessions, they were scandalized when they find out all the shenanigans their people are up to. But God wasn’t fooled, and all of the dramatic confessing didn’t change anyone’s standing with Him because no one meant what they said. Men like Ezra and Nehemiah already cared about pleasing God, so when we read about these two fasting and moping around, all we see is evidence of their spiritual immaturity. Trying to apologize to God for someone else’s rotten heart attitude doesn’t do anything to correct the problem. Going into a major funk because the world is filled with evil is a total waste of time. We certainly want to care when God is being mistreated, but you can’t make another Christian stop rebelling against God in his heart, nor can you fix the problems in the Church by skipping meals and fasting.
Let’s look at this from God’s perspective. Suppose a man walks up to you and punches you in the face. I rush over with a shocked expression, help you to your feet and say, “He is so sorry for hitting you—please forgive him!” But no sooner do I finish saying this than the man who punched you lashes out again. Once again, I rush to apologize for this man, but he hits you again. How much good are my apologies doing? It’s very clear to you that this man isn’t the least bit sorry about hitting you—in fact, he’s enjoying it. You finally go to hit this man back but then I leap in front of you and say, “No! Don’t hit him! That wouldn’t be right! You’re supposed to forgive!” How are you going to respond to my adamant defense of your enemy? Are you going to applaud my stellar mercy? No, you’re going to ask why I care more about this human twerp than I do about you when you claim to be my friend.
When Yahweh rescued the Israelites from Egypt only to see the priest Aaron make a calf god for them to worship in His place, His fury was more than justified. When Moses pleaded with Yahweh not to kill the little jerks, was he treating Yahweh with honor? Not hardly. What we find in the Bible is God being extremely gracious in the face of even His most dedicated followers grossly dishonoring Him. Just because God doesn’t strike someone down on the spot doesn’t mean that He loves how they are treating Him. If you really want to know God’s heart, you have to seek Him in your own heart and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding of what your Creators really like. We don’t want to be the kinds of Christians who annoy God with our praise because He knows it isn’t sincere. When we tell God we love Him, we want our words to ring true in His ears because He sees that our hearts earnestly care about honoring Him. And then when God so generously shares new insights with us about His preferences, we want to cherish those insights and act upon them, not just keep going through some insulting rituals that we picked up at church.
God doesn’t want to hear you apologizing for other people’s sins. God certainly wants us to care that He is being treated with dishonor. But when we sit around asking Him to forgive souls who are spitting in His face, we are only siding with those souls against Him, and this is never acceptable. If your father is refusing to treat God with honor, you should not be trying to confess your father’s sins for him. God is not going to forgive your father’s willful defiance unless your father sincerely repents in his own heart. When you try to apologize to God for others, your words are meaningless, ineffective, and irritating. God is the only One with an accurate view of reality, so don’t be trying to tell Him that things aren’t the way they actually are. He knows who cares about Him and who despises Him and He will respond to each soul accordingly.
“Forgive my son for his sins against You.” This is an inappropriate prayer for a Christian parent to pray. You already know that God demands certain things from your son before He is going to extend any forgiveness to him. When we ask God to pardon those who are refusing to repent, we are only insulting Him. Why should God forgive anyone who is spitting in His face? Why are we asking God to treat Himself so unfairly? Whose side are we on, anyway?
It is totally out of line for you to instruct God on how He should act in your own relationship with Him, never mind in His relationship with other people. God says that He will forgive those who sincerely repent and submit to His Authority. But those who refuse to do so will reap the consequences of their rebellion. Meanwhile, you need to stay focused on your own walk with God. When God has a problem with something you’re doing, He will tell you, so there’s no need for you to keep reminding Him of every wrong thing you’ve ever done. Confessing sins should not be the focus of a devoted Christian’s walk. God is not interested in constantly reviewing what you’ve done wrong in the past. Instead, He wants to educate you about who He is and what He wants so that you can improve your treatment of Him today and in the future.
What marriage could survive if all the wife ever talked about was all the ways she mistreated her husband? As a Christian, you sin every day, but God isn’t going to point out most of your sins to you. He wants you to stay focused on your soul’s response to Him instead because that is the only thing you’re going to be judged by in eternity. Do you sincerely care about pleasing God? Do you want Him to have His total way in your life? If you do, then you are in a good place with God. God wants you to learn how to identify when He is pleased with you so that you can enjoy the peace that comes from knowing all is well between you and Him. But of course demons want you to spend your life fretting about all the ways you’re messing up and striving for a perfection that you can never attain. Refuse to listen to demons in life. Listen to God instead.
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Confessing Your Sins to People