As we come to worship the Lord, we confess our sins. We are preparing ourselves now to do just that. But it is important for us to understand the nature of what we are doing.
We do not confess our sins here weekly so that you don’t have to bother with confessing them in the aftermath of having stumbled. We are not encouraging you to “wait until Sunday to do it.” Neither are we saying that an honest confession at the time the sin was committed is insufficient, and that you need to apply a second coat of forgiveness here at church. Whenever God forgives, He forgives.
But He forgives us in time, in the midst of a story, and we are confessing our sins in time, in the midst of a story. Think of it this way. The process of sanctification is the process of moral formation. We are, all of us, in the process of growing up in the likeness of the Lord Jesus. We are in the process of putting on the coat of new man, and as we do this there are many buttons to fasten.
An individual sin is a particular sin. A series of sins, or a particular besetting sin, is a candidate that is volunteering to form up in you as a vice. Our generation likes to describe vices as addictions because this helps us evade personal responsibility, treating the vice in question as a simple misfortune, like breaking your leg. But much more is involved. Vice is sin taking shape in you as a personal characteristic.
In a similar way, resisting a temptation successfully is a good thing, but as a stand-alone event it is not the same thing as the formation of virtue. Virtue is an aspect of character, which is a function of habit. Virtue is goodness taking shape in you as a personal characteristic. This means resisting temptation over time. It means confessing sin over time. And it means confessing intelligently.
When you confess a particular sin, you are forgiven. You don’t need to wait until next Sunday. But one of the things you should do on Sunday, during the time of confession, is recognize that you are still in the process of formation, and you always will be this side Jordan.
You will be tempted in the same area again this coming week, and you know the seeds of that particular temptation are still within you. Right now they are within you. Confess that, and prepare yourself for the coming week. Do it as the forgiven of God.