If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In a world where the concepts of right and wrong have become not only blurry but at times even reversed, it is very important to keep track of the ‘walkings’ of our souls. First of all we must remember the definition of sin. The Hebrew word for it is ‘chatah’, which literally means to ‘miss the mark’ or the ‘bull’s eye’, and refers to disobeying the commandments of Torah (1 John 3:4). Of course, our human nature makes it impossible for us to keep all the commandments, but this is where the principle of atonement comes in, for the part that we can’t do. For the rest, the Scriptures give us three main ways of accountability: the Word; community; confession and restitution.
THE WORD: King David once said, I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalms 119:11). We must store the Words of our Father in our heart by constantly reading, listening and memorizing them. If we have a good conscience, these works will lead and guide us; the idea of disobedience will be repulsive and we will feel ‘dirty’ in our heart for doing the wrong thing. It is important then to listen to the voice of this conscience led by the Word. When we ignore it for too long, it eventually becomes seared and we don’t even hear it anymore (1Timothy 4:2).
COMMUNITY: The Torah is not meant to be lived alone; it requires community. That is why it is important for believers to actively seek to live near other believers. When we go off on our own without the accountability, support, and positive peer-pressure that fellowship offers, we have the tendency to develop our own form of godly walk and therefore go astray.
REPENTANCE, CONFESSION AND RESTITUTION: Moses taught the people about the benefits of confession before God. He says, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong (Number 5:6-7). We are to materialize our repentant heart through confessing (audibly for a witness to ourselves: Romans 10:17) our sins and shortcomings before God, even the smallest ones. If needs be, we are also to provide restitution above and beyond the worth of the offense. A person may even have to go to Jerusalem to make acknowledgment of their trespass before God through a sin offering. In these ways, sin becomes a personal moral reality as well as financial. God knows that we respond most to rules when breaking them depletes our pocket books!
Therein is the grace, the mercy and the compassion of God: In that He teaches us personal accountability and responsibility for our sins, to make the right decisions and obey, but in that He also is able through our humble confession to help us learn our lesson and start again!