A Clean Conscience at the Table

As you have been told a number of times, this is not a Table of introspection and morbid confession. Confession is relevant to what we do here, but it should not be what we do here. You wash up before you come to the Table, but the Table is not the designated place for washing up. Of course, if the Spirit brings something to mind while you are here, simply confess it and return to the subject at hand. But don’t go hunting for things to confess. You are not to be curled up in an introspective ball, but rather singing to the Lord, looking around at your people, the people you love.

As you prepare for this Table by means of confession, either at the time or during our time of confession in the liturgy, remember the difference between confessing that you are a sinner and confessing your sins. The former is the foundation of orthodoxy, while the latter is the foundation of a clean conscience before God.

When Paul was giving his defense before Felix (Acts 24:16), one of the things he said was that he labored to live before both God and men with a clean conscience. This involves much more than simply acknowledging the doctrinal truth that we all have sinned. That is a truth.  It is an important truth. But it is not the truth that we confess when we are confessing our sins.

Confessing sins is specific. It names names. It deals with what must be put right—because the end result is what Paul mentions here, a clean conscience. And real confession, at the right time and done in the right way, is not a cause of morbidity. It is actually the opposite. It enables you to come to this Table already clean. It enables you to sit down to fellowship with your companions and to enjoy the food provided. And the food provided is the bread and wine of your forgiveness—the basis of your clear conscience. So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

Theology That Bites Back



Opt-in here and you'll receive a weekly digest of the thoughts and musings from yours truly that wend their way into blog posts. In addition, from time to time, you should also receive notices of new book releases, upcoming events, and continent-sized cyclones on Jupiter.

Congratulations. You did it.

  • Eric Stampher

    Again, this content right here encapsulates all else (that is good, that is) you say everywhere else, on all other topics.  Here is what it all comes to.  Please massage this into a treatise or book.  I recommend you tell it in a story with a young dude character coming into bloom — something of the young you as you now see yourself learning.