Within Christianity, there is a practice called confession. Upon confession, we ask God for forgiveness of sins. I’ve stopped doing this. Here’s why:
I’ve messed up again. I can’t believe I did it again. I told myself I would stop. I’m so angry at myself.
These are things that usually run through our minds when we find ourselves trapped in the same sin we thought we could stop. You know what I’m talking about. Maybe it was a New Year’s Resolution. Maybe you got caught and said you would stop. Maybe you’ve told yourself you are going to stop before someone finds out. Maybe you just came back from a conference and are on an emotional high and are ready to conquer the world. Whatever your motivation, we have all found ourselves in the place where we look at ourselves in the mirror and curse because we gave into “that” sin again.
And thus the cycle begins again. “Lord, I’m sorry.” “You are forgiven.” “Well, maybe just one more time…” “Lord, I’m sorry.” “You are forgiven.” “Well, I’ve gone for a long time without doing it, so just one more time won’t be an issue…” “Lord, I’m sorry.” The only thing that changes is our justification for falling back into the sin.
But what I found, for me at least, is that my seeking forgiveness was more about me than anything else. Sometimes, seeking forgiveness can be the most selfish thing we do. I felt bad because I told myself I would stop. I failed. I thought I had conquered that sin.
Seeking forgiveness stems from a recognition of personal failure. So seeking forgiveness, many times, stems from selfishness. What I am asking is this: Do we seek forgiveness because we recognize what we have done to the Kingdom or our community? Or do we seek forgiveness because we had such a high view of ourselves that we would not mess up again? For a lack of self-discipline?
We seek forgiveness because of personal failure. But failure isn’t personal. Failure affects everyone. So when seeking forgiveness, it cannot be for personal failure. Seeking forgiveness has to be about community. Something larger than yourself. Otherwise, seeking forgiveness is selfish. Who are we to think that we could live life without sin? Who are we to think that we could conquer sin? Who are we to think that we can control the sin in our own life? It is out of our control. It is only through a supernatural power, being the Holy Spirit, that sin can be controlled.
Here’s the point. I’m tired of seeking forgiveness because I’ve messed up. I’m tired of saying the same prayer that I won’t do it again. I’m weary of it all.
What I cannot tire over is recognizing the fact that my sin affects others. My anger hurts others. My cynicism depresses others. My sarcastic language can cut others (it would help if they would stop taking everything personally).
Our sin directly affects others. So seeking forgiveness cannot be personal. It has to be outwardly focused. Otherwise, it is selfish…and wouldn’t that make it a sin?
2 thoughts on “Seeking Forgiveness is Selfish”
Caleb, I love the honesty in this article. You’ve effectively communicated a common (and yet sadly often denied) struggle in the life of a believer.
My opinion on the topic, for what it’s worth: occasionally finding satisfaction in something that disgusts you sounds like the dilemma of a crazy man. It is far more likely that you’re not the one being satisfied when giving in to any particular sin. Which is easier to believe, that you’re crazy, or that you’re being used?
Freedom in Christ is having the option to say no to sin. Many who are in Christ unfortunately have not experienced this. If you are constantly asking for forgiveness for the same sin, then you are under attack.
Contact me if you want to get rid of it.
You raise some interesting points. This blog post is a collection of several conversations with friends. The point I was trying to make, is that, it is prideful of us to think that we could not sin. I’m pointing to the fallen nature of man. So sometimes I think that seeking forgiveness stems out of selfishness. That is because sin is selfish. When one follows Christ, one must always remember that he/she is part of a community and that within that community, there is no such thing as “personal sin.”
I hope I made myself a little more clear. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was done seeking forgiveness for sins. Instead, I have changed the way I view seeking forgiveness.