Some Spiritual Advice

I’m not sure that the essence of repentance is being able to list of all your sins to the Lord.

Obviously, it is crucial to recognize our specific sins, confess, and repent.

But it seems to me that we also have to recognize before the Lord our sin of not being able to see all our sins.

We need to cast ourselves on his sheer mercy. Yes, confessing what we know, but also asking forgiveness and mercy — and then sanctification — for the sins we are not aware of.

(Which may be the most substantial arena of sin!)

  • Dave Moser

    Is it really sin to not recognize particular areas of sin? It seems to me that blindness carries no moral weight in and of itself. Yes, I am guilty of the sin in my life of which I am not aware but does the unawareness add on additional guilt? I’m not convinced.

  • Matt

    Dave: Great question. It seems that blindness and ignorance (of sin) in the Scriptures are treated as morally culpable actions of the will. This is the truly horrible, devastating nature of our sin. Some passages on sin and blindness would be Isaiah 6 and Romans 1, among others.

    It is certainly the case that to many of our sins, our eyes have to be opened over time. And I don’t think all sins are of the same seriousness. For example, Jesus seems to say to the disciples that they should have known the Messiah was to suffer. But he didn’t beat them over the head for not knowing that, and worked with them over time to bring them to see it.

    An example of a great sin we can easily overlook is hearing the cry of the poor. In Proverbs it speaks of those who “shut their ears” to the cry of the poor. These people are not hearing, not seeing, that the poor are in great need, and they are obligated to help. And the Scripture treats this as a willful blindness–these people have shut their eyes and ears.

    I think in the West, we are all especially vulnerable to this sin. We need to work hard to open our ears and eyes. And God is gracious–he doesn’t reproach us and works with us to help us see.

  • Matt

    One other thing I should add: It is important to make a distinction between ignorance of moral issues and ignorance of non-moral issues.

    For example, not knowing the square root of 42, or even how to find it, is not sin. Making a mistake in English class is not sin. Many, many things in life are in the category of mistakes and non-sinful “ignorance.” I’m talking here about ignorance of moral issues.

    Hope that helps clarify as well.