The Fifth Chief Part of the Christian Faith: What is Confession ++ Isaiah 6:1-7
We’re okay confessing our sins as long as we can do it behind the safety of a locked heart. That’s the work of the old Adam… as the Holy Spirit is shattering our heart of stone into millions of pieces to make room for a new heart, our sinful nature is gluing the pieces back together – humpty dumpty style. Making sure to fill in all the nooks and crannies… so that no light gets in, because darkness is the best friend of the sinner – the blanket under which Satan does his work – and the way of the world. Under cover of that dark vault we fool ourselves into some kind comfort, thinking that we are at peace with a Jesus that knows we are repentant. The problem isn’t in what Jesus knows or doesn’t know. The problem is with our constant and continual lying.
The incarnation of our Lord attacks our false truths, lies, and omissions head-on. We have a God that is not content with abstractions and feelings. He dismisses the way of the world for tangible, touch you, in your face religion. He won’t have humpty dumpty or your cracked-up, super glued heart deal with your sins, your confessions, or your absolution. It can’t be trusted. You can’t be trusted. And so he comes to deal with your sin in human terms… in flesh and blood.
Just like he dealt with Isaiah. What did God do to the Man of Woe, a person of unclean lips and unclean people?? Seraphim took a live coal (HOT STUFF, burn you, melt your skin off, HOT COALS) and touched Isaiah on the lips. The only time a man or a woman tells the truth… it seems, is when he says, “I AM A SINNER!” In the depths of that truth, there in the safety of the light, Jesus deals with your sin.
HOW? Well, this is the God that engages all your senses. This is the God that isn’t content letting you be in your sin and death. This is the God that won’t leave you here in danger while he tends to the universe. You aren’t going to get his attention… in fact you don’t want his attention. Your comfort was in the darkness. But don’t misunderstand: you are in danger. And it isn’t the hurricanes and the earthquakes, hunger, and homelessness… or even overpopulation that is your danger, your trouble. Your trouble is sin and your trouble is death. You have an accomplice that wants you in hell and he’ll use whatever to trick you into abstractions about your situation. Jesus won’t have it.
So God becomes part of his creation. He is born a man and suffers all the temptations you suffer. And then takes the full force of God the Father’s wrath and judgment. He takes it all on the cross of Calvary for the salvation of your souls. But Jesus wouldn’t leave it there. He takes that freedom… that death of death itself, that life eternal and forgiveness of sins, that love of God himself and he brings it to you and applies it to you. He uses your body to do it. We might be content with just hearing about it. And for sure, that is one of the senses he has chosen to use… but also your eyes, your tongue, your skin, your nose. He uses the things of this creation and he adds his heavenly royalty and spender to it. Think about it… water to wash you – real water (anecdote)… bread that needs baking… wine that you have to crush grapes to get. And the touch…applying your crucified Jesus to your situation and removing your death from you.
And so, like unto Isaiah in our text, Jesus sends a messenger with a live coal. Do not underestimate the heat of that coal. He sends a coal to touch the lips of the those that confess their sins. The heat of God’s wrath, the heat of the cross will destroy those sins. Receiving absolution, from the pastor – God’s messenger, as from God himself. He does this – God does this – so that you won’t have doubt about the status of your sin. It goes the way of burned up, fire induced ash, just like a live coal would do. When you speak it to your pastor, it dies in his ear. It isn’t some kind of status or confidentiality agreement – NO… your sins go there to die and are not spoken of again. In that sense, the pastor’s ear is a grave. Jesus uses that messenger and that ear to destroy your sin and restore you to splendor. He applies the blood of his Cross to you and makes you new. And so, people of God, you are loved… Jesus has come and does come even today to touch you in your place to interrupt you in your way and restore you to live and salvation. What a great gift God has chosen to give to you. No longer liars, but confessors, we go to the throne of God and he buries us and our sin in the death of Jesus and rises us again to life in that same Jesus. You are the forgiven… the touched by God… the living for Jesus declares it. Alleluia! Today he has done all things well. Alleluia!
++Rev. Steven Cholak++