As a young boy, sitting in the confessional booth in the large Roman Catholic church that we attended from “time to time” in my hometown was terrifying. Not only from my anxiety disorder standpoint, but the other kids were equally as nervous and a bit apprehensive at the thought of revealing ours sins to a man whom we had to address as “Father”.
Looking back I remember him saying, “Your sins are forgiven, now go and say these prayers a certain amount of times”. I recall leaving there feeling a sense of relief, not because my sins had been dealt with, but because it was over. I suppose I did it because it was my turn.
A false sense of forgiveness
Everybody in my grade 8 class from the Catholic school I attended marched over to the architecturally beautiful building with all the stained glass windows to complete the process of being “confirmed” and then one by one stepped into the “confessional”.
Then when we were all done, we marched back to the school in single file, carrying with us the same sins that we had supposedly been forgiven of !! What a terrible untruth for a young lad to be taught. Very sad.
You see, not only were our sins not forgiven that day, but we added to them by calling this man “Father.” It clearly states in Matthew 23:9, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.”
There is only one way
Why weren’t we shown that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and not that man in the booth? Jesus replied to Thomas in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It brings me to tears from time to time when I think that they still have our risen Savior nailed to the cross at the front of their building.
When I was 16, my older brother and a Christian family that we were traveling and camping with led me through some key scriptures regarding sin, salvation, and the need to accept Christ as my personal Savior and during that trip I was saved.
There were no rituals, traditions, steps, etc. It was all from the Word of God and the power of His Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin and leading me to the cross. I was a good kid, but Romans 3:23 told me, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
That verse was shown to me amongst others (Romans 10:9, John 3:16, Rev. 3:20), and I began a life born anew as a child of God, in a relationship with my personal Savior, Jesus.
I had repented of my sin, asked for forgiveness, accepted Christ. I am forgiven! At that moment I was eternally secure. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13,14)
For 3 years I attended a church out west, but I was not rooted in His word. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. (2 Tim 3:16)
The need for the Word
His Word is also our defense against the snares of the evil one. In addition to this, a few of the things practiced at that church are not what I believe today. Had I been studying His Word, maybe I would have come across 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I fell out of fellowship with our Father.
I read in His word that I’m not the only one who struggled with keeping his heart on our Holy God. King David sinned (adultery and murder), and in 2 Samuel 12:13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”
The Lord took David’s illegitimate son from him, but he was forgiven. In Psalm 32:5 David says, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.“
Being utterly convicted of his sin, David poured out a torrent of penitence from his broken and contrite heart in Psalm 51. Forgiven!
Forgiven no matter what
We also read in 2 Chronicles 33 that Manasseh became king at age 12 and became one of the most evil kings, reigning 55 years. “But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” (v.2)
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people but it fell on deaf ears, so the Lord moved the king of Assyria to take him away to Babylon, which was under Assyrian control.
2 Chronicles 33:12-13, “Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” Forgiven!
The weight of sin lifted
In December 2012 I too cried out to the Lord and asked Him to forgive me of my worldly ways which held me captive for 30 years, and to take control of my life again. A weight was lifted immediately. I should not be alive today, for many, many reasons, but by the grace of God, I’m here.
You see, I had not lost my salvation, but the joy of my salvation. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Coming back to the Lord, I had a hunger for His Word and to serve, and I pray always that the hunger remains.
Satan wants to hinder us
We must be aware of our adversary, as Satan wants to hinder our walk with the Lord in any way he can. He tries to remind us of the past.
After my fellowship with the Lord was restored, I asked for forgiveness for not raising my sons in the ways of the Lord, and I was forgiven! But I had a hard time accepting His forgiveness for this (feeling as though maybe I should feel a bit of guilt as a way of punishing myself).
This was not of the Lord at all!! That was foolishness to even entertain such a thought. In 1 John 1:9 it states clearly, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a joy that came when I was able to thank Him for His forgiveness, grace and mercy and to leave my past at the cross. Forgiven!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 We serve a great God. He can bring us to our knees, lift us up and set our feet on a rock!