On Sin, Confession, and Forgiveness

“If Christians seriously deal on a daily basis with the cross of Christ, they will lose the spirit of human judgmentalism, as well as weak indulgence, receiving instead the spirit of divine firmness and divine love. The death of the sinner before God, and the life that comes out of death through grace, becomes a daily reality for them. So they love the other believers with the merciful love of God that leads through the death of the sinner to the life of the child of God. Who can hear our confession? Those who themselves live beneath the cross. Wherever the Word of the Crucified is a living reality, there will be confession to one another.”

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, DBW 5, Life Together, pg. 116.

Here are some of the points I brought up in class yesterday on sin, confession, forgiveness and grace.

  • We cannot know what sin is apart from faith.
  • Faith is always in reference to God, it is nothing on it’s own.
  • We should freely thank God for revealing our sins. He has revealed them in order to free us.
  • If I cannot thank God for shining a light on my sins, maybe I would really rather not be rid of them! God’s light forces me to run and hide or give the sin up.
  • Grace and forgiveness are the kind of gifts that create in us our need for them.
  • Confessing sin to another and receiving assurance of God’s forgiveness is a skill that must be learned—by observation of others and the witness of the church. I cannot know on my own just how destructive my sin is. I need the Christ in my brothers and sisters as a witness, and to offer forgiveness.
  • Sin makes us stupid, self-centered, and leaves us alone. It causes us to forget our place in the family of God. We Christians are not meant to be slaves to sin, but free children of God.
  • By practicing the confession of sins and absolution we are rejecting that false doctrine of sin propagated by our culture that equates it with only the most reprehensible acts for which bad people get caught. Getting caught is certainly not like confession of sin.


Filed under Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pastoral Ministry

2 responses to “On Sin, Confession, and Forgiveness

  1. Chris,

    Many thanks for posting this DB quote, and your excellent thoughts as a response. It’s great stuff.


  2. Thanks Jason. I think I just found your “Per Crucem ad Lucem” blog as well.
    Is this not also you? I found it typing in the words “Who is Christ for us today?” I’ll be doing a class on this theme in the coming weeks and will try to post notes here then.

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