“At a certain point, I could no longer deny the inconvenient fact that something was wrong with me.”

Recently I was struck with a bout of sickness that lasted longer than any I can remember. It started off normal enough with a sore throat, cough, and stuffy nose. Since it was just a cold, I went about life as usual. I went to work, met with friends, and even went on a weekend trip that we had planned. My colds always go away within a few days, so I assumed this too would just get better with time. But after two weeks of unrelenting symptoms, I went to the doctor to see if I needed some antibiotics. Disappointingly, he told me that it seemed like what I had was viral, and I just had to wait it out.

But I soon realized that this cold was not like the colds I was used to. Week after week the sickness had a hold on me and would not let go. There were a few instances where I would start to feel better, but then within 24 hours all the symptoms would come back and I’d be exhausted and malaised yet again. After six weeks I started to get worried - why was I not getting better?

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the reason I wasn’t getting better was simple: I wasn’t acting like I was sick. I was carrying on with my bustling, go-go-go life with absolutely no regard to my body. Instead of resting, I was cramming as many errands as I could into my day in an effort to be “productive”. Instead of eating nutritious foods, I was grabbing whatever food was easiest to get in the moment. Instead of getting to bed at a reasonable hour, I was staying up late to finish one more chapter, be it in a novel or Netflix.

At a certain point, I could no longer deny the inconvenient fact that something was wrong with me. Something was wrong with me, and no amount of time passing was going to make me better if I didn’t actively address it.

Though we would never say it out loud, in many ways we live like we are invincible. We take risks we probably shouldn’t and ignore blatant warning signs that something is wrong in our lives. Usually the cue is a seemingly innocuous refrain:

“It’s not that big of a deal. It was just a one-time (two-time...three-time…) thing.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m fine.”

“I’ll get to it eventually.”

When we have this kind of mindset about having a cold, we cause damage to our physical bodies. But when we have this kind of mindset about our sin, we cause a spiritual damage that’s just as bad.

In the New Testament, John has some strong words with regard to ignoring our sin, or pretending that it isn’t there:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us....If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
-1 John 1:8, 10

Most of us know better than to say with words, “I have no sin,” but we often find ourselves saying it with our lives as loudly as possible. If you’re like me, those moments of sin might cause a justification like this to come to mind: “Oh that? That’s not sin, I’m just tired.” “I mean, yeah, I could have been nicer, but I was in a bad mood. Everyone has bad moods sometimes.” Or, if I’m really feeling lazy, “I just don’t want to deal with that right now.”

This kind of denial isn’t just limited to ourselves. Sometimes we see a brother or sister sinning - maybe the spiritual equivalent of a fever with a hacking cough - and we say nothing. Rather than lovingly confronting them and encouraging them toward the remedy they need, we judge them from afar and develop a feverish anger of our own. Or when someone sins against us and leaves a gaping wound, we cover it up and pretend that it’s fine, when in reality an infection of resentment grows.

If we never acknowledge our spiritual sickness and call it what it is - sin - then we’ll never have any hope of spiritual restoration. A sin left ignored will spread more pervasively than any virus, causing harm not just to ourselves, but to those around us as well. We cannot deny the inconvenient fact that something is wrong with us. Something is wrong with us, and no amount of mere time passing will make things better if we don’t actively address it.

Fortunately, the beautiful promise sandwiched in between the verses of John’s warnings gives us the antidote we need:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
-1 John 1:9

Our pride would have us believe that the mere passing of time will sweep any issues away, and that sanctification will come through age without effort. Thankfully, God reveals the truth that it is only through the active, intentional, bringing of brokenness to him that spiritual healing can happen. What a merciful God we have, that by confessing our sin and asking forgiveness, he provides us with restorative grace for our souls!

Lord, humble me to admit that there is something wrong with my heart, and that only you can make it right. Help me to not ignore or deny my sin, but to bring it to you, so that by your faithfulness and justice I may be forgiven and cleansed. Please give me compassionate boldness to speak the truth in love to my brothers and sisters when I see them in sin. And for the deep wounds that I have been hiding, Lord, give me the courage to trust you entirely with their care, and to walk in faith through whatever means you see most fit to provide healing to my heart.

Ashley Ross

Ashley is a member of Cornerstone and serves as a Web Content Editor.

Additional articles that might be of interest.