It’s a given part of human nature. Each and every one of us have sinned. We’ve all “fallen short” to use the concept that Paul uses in the book of Romans.
However, the fact that we all sin is not an excuse for sinning. The grace that God gives us to triumph over any sin is not an excuse to sin more. This is the thrust of the argument that Paul made to the Romans close to 2000 years ago.
So every time I hear someone who was caught doing something wrong saying “I know it’s wrong, but I have a long way to go” in an effort to diffuse a situation, I shake my head.
The whole point of the Christian faith is repentance—a change of direction.
Confession Versus Repentance
Much focus is placed on confession of one’s sin. We are told to pray and ask forgiveness for wrong, and that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession means to say the same thing about the sin as God does.
Some people will make it this far—they will acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong and that they know it to be wrong.
This is what Carrie Prejean did. When confronted with the idea that she shouldn’t have an explicit photo out, she stated that it was something that models, or those wanting to be models do. When confronted about the apparent contradiction between her definition of modeling and Christianity, she stated she was still growing. It’s an admission of guilt, without repentance.
Repentance is a change of direction. It starts with confession (“I did wrong”) but ends in a new direction (“I won’t do that again”).
It’s not just something that Carrie struggles with—you and I do this every day. There are things that we do that we know we should not, and yet we do them anyway. If we confess this sin, some times it doesn’t stop us. We fail to see our sin as God does, and in that failure, we fail also to take the action necessary to change direction.
The Gospel Message Is a Message of Repentance
The idea of repentance is key to the Christian faith. It was not enough for the believers in the New Testament to recognize that they were sinners. The apostle’s call was for repentance, a change of direction. You were to leave your current sinful state and follow the Savior.
That doesn’t mean that the moment you made that decision you were perfect. What it did mean is that you got a new nature that desired to move forward to become more Christ-like.
In that, it’s not enough for you and I to say “I know that’s sin, but I’m still growing”. We should say “I know that’s sin, and by God’s grace I’m changing it.” We need to acknowledge the wrong, call it what it is, and move toward eliminating it from our life.