A few days ago, a friend of mine said something very interesting. He had been reading Scripture, and was convicted about something in his life. He recognized that in this area (and the specific area is not important for this blog post), his life did not align with God’s will. He confessed that to God, then paused. He recognized that the next step was repentance. He should repent of his sin and turn back toward God. This means, of course, that his life should change and should begin to align with God’s will. But, and here’s the issue, my friend was not ready for his life to change.
Yes, he knew there was a problem. Yes, he knew his life was not aligning with God’s will and he knew that this was sin. Yes, he freely admitted that this was sin. But, in his heart, he knew he was not really repentant, because he was not ready to see his life changed by God.
First, I want to say that I appreciate my friend’s honesty, not only with God but with his friends. Certainly, my friend could have said that he repented without any real change. But instead, he desired to be real – authentic – both with God and with his brothers and sisters.
His honesty and openness led to a very special time for those of us who were there. I could tell that each person was examining his or her own heart, remembering times when they had also been convicted of sin, but struggled with the desire to change. Several people mentioned their own struggles. So, his confession (public confession, nonetheless) led to further confession.
Second, I admit that I have been in the same position as my friend. There have been times when I recognize sin in my life, and I admit that this is sin, but I honestly don’t want to see my life change. Thus, I want to confess, but not repent. I’m also learning to be real with God and with others. This has not been an easy lesson for me – it is still not an easy lesson for me. I think it has been hardest for me to be honest with my family.
Here is the question for me. Do we allow God to convict us, then push ourselves to change? Or, do we allow God to convict us and also allow God to give us the desire to change? If we wait for God to give us the desire to change, then should we be honest about this, as my friend was?
Has anyone else struggled with this desire to confess, but not repent? Has there been a time when God has changed your heart and desires?