Why We Can’t Escape Sin by Daily Confession and Repentance
By Yu’en, South Korea
I trust every devout Christian is confused about the following: We pray to the Lord, and confess sins and repent every day, but why are we never able to escape the bondage of sin? As we all know, the Lord is holy, so are we, who often sin and resist Him, qualified to enter God’s kingdom? How can we shake off the shackles of sin? I always used to be perplexed by this too, but through seeking, I finally found the way to be purified of sin.
The Painful Life of Sinning and Confessing
“Lord, You are holy, yet I frequently involuntarily deceive and sin and offend You. Lord, I’m unwilling to live like this. Please lead me to rid myself of impurity and practice Your words. …” I often prayed to the Lord this way, but I always failed to do what I prayed, and continued to live in sin and was unable to follow the Lord’s teachings. For example, I knew perfectly well that the Lord requires us to be honest people, but to protect my self-respect and avoid being looked down upon by others, I often used the knowledge of the scriptures that I had written in the past to bluff my way through in the weekly Bible training class. Not only that, I always had a bad temper. At home, when my children didn’t do as I wanted them to, I would become furious at them; at work, when the younger generation spoke to me in an impatient tone, I couldn’t help but get angry and give them looks. … I knew that in my interactions with others, I should be tolerant and patient, and love them as myself, but I couldn’t do it at all and no matter how I prayed, repented and confessed to the Lord, I was still powerless to escape the bonds of sin. For this, I felt much pain. God says: “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). And the Bible says: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). I was so filthy and corrupt, and often committed sins, unable to implement the Lord’s words — would I be able to enter the heavenly kingdom in the future?
I sought answers to my confusion with the pastor, but he often comforted me by saying: “The Bible says: ‘That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:9–10). So we need not be pessimistic and disappointed because of our habitual sin. The Lord won’t forsake us, and we have to have faith in Him. The Lord no longer sees us as sinful because our sins were long forgiven, and we are justified by faith. When He comes, we are qualified to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven.” Also, I often privately discussed this issue with my brothers and sisters, and they too believed that though we often sinned, we were deemed righteous thanks to the Lord’s redemption and that when the Lord returned He would surely bring us into the heavenly kingdom. Seeing how everybody thought this way, I was able to gradually let go of the concerns I’d had. However, I felt really uneasy in my heart, trapped in a state of sinning and confessing, but since I couldn’t find a solution, all I could do was constantly pray to the Lord, longing for Him to come quickly and lead me out of this predicament.
Happy to Hear the Good News of the Lord’s Return
One day, I visited a friend’s house, and there met Missionary Zhang. As we chatted, I unexpectedly heard from her the news of the Lord’s return. She said: “We’re now in the last stage of the last days. Disasters are frequently occurring around the world, and the prophecies of the Lord’s second coming in the last days have basically been fulfilled. We are all desperately yearning for the Lord Jesus’ return. In fact, the Lord Jesus has already returned in the flesh; He is Christ of the last days, Almighty God. He has expressed millions of words, started the Age of Kingdom and performed His work of judging, chastising and cleansing man. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can our corrupt dispositions be purified; only then will we be qualified to be raised into the kingdom of heaven. …” Hearing that the Lord had returned, I felt pleased and surprised that now, in my lifetime, the Lord’s return had come. But I felt conflicted when I thought of how she had said that accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days was the only way for us to enter the heavenly kingdom. The pastors and elders always said that we had been absolved of our sins and been justified by faith, and that the Lord would directly bring us into the kingdom of heaven when He came. How could she say that?
Can Those Who Are Justified by Faith Get Into Heaven?
I therefore said to Sister Zhang: “The Lord was crucified to redeem mankind and has already taken on all of our sins. And the Bible says: ‘For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation’ (Romans 10:10). Our sins have been absolved and we have been made righteous through our faith. When the Lord returns, He will lift us up directly into the kingdom of heaven. How can you say that only if we accept God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days can we enter the heavenly kingdom? Isn’t this denying the Lord’s redemptive work?” After I finished, I turned sideways to drink tea, not feeling like talking.
Seeing that I was unhappy, Sister Zhang said amiably to me: “Sister, it’s true that the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion has forgiven man’s sins. But you think that as long as we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths, we are called righteous and will be brought into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes — is this way of thinking correct and does it have any basis in the Lord’s words? The Lord said: ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). This verse states very clearly that God is holy, and those who are not holy cannot see Him. We, however, are constantly sinning and resisting God and haven’t achieved purification. How could we be qualified to see God’s face and enter God’s kingdom? Just as the Lord Jesus said: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). From this, we can see the belief that those who are justified by faith and absolved of their sins can enter the kingdom of heaven is just a product of the imaginings from our heads and not in line with the Lord’s words. In our belief in the Lord, all things should be in accordance with the Lord’s words. Sayings that go against His words are man’s notions and fallacies, and if we continue to cling to them, we will easily ruin our chance to get into heaven.”
Sister Zhang’s fellowship was well-founded and my heart felt greatly stirred. It turned out that the argument that having our sins forgiven and being called righteous by faith meant that we could enter into the heavenly kingdom was wrong, and this was all just our wishful thinking and did not tally with the Lord’s will at all. The Lord’s words made it so clear, but how come I hadn’t pondered them in this way? In the past, I had listened only to the pastors but ignored the Lord’s words — I was so foolish!
Then the sister turned on her computer and said, smiling: “Sister, with regard to why we can’t get into heaven simply by having our sins forgiven, let’s read several passages of Almighty God’s words and it will all become clearer.” I nodded.
Understanding the True Meaning of Having Our Sins Forgiven
Almighty God says, “At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed.” “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus — you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.”
After reading God’s words, the sister continued to fellowship, saying: “By reading God’s words, have we understood a little about the Lord Jesus’ redemption work and the result of it? As we all know, at the end of the Age of Law, because mankind was becoming more and more corrupted by Satan and unable to keep the law, they were all in danger of violating the laws and being punished with death. In order to redeem man from sin, God became flesh as the Lord Jesus and did the work of redemption during the Age of Grace, taking on all of our sins. As long as we believe in the Lord Jesus, and pray for repentance in His name, He will pardon our sins and give us peace and happiness. This is what we call being called righteous because of faith. But this only means we have been forgiven of our sins and will no longer be condemned by the law, but doesn’t mean we have been totally purified and become righteous people as we imagine. Because our corrupt dispositions haven’t been cleansed, such as arrogance and conceit, crookedness and deceitfulness, selfishness and baseness, and so we still frequently commit sins, incapable of practicing the Lord’s words. For example, we clearly know that the Lord teaches us to be tolerant and patient, but we often lose our temper in spite of ourselves so that others can listen to us; we clearly know the Lord requires us to be honest people, but if something involves our own interests or reputation, we involuntarily tell lies and deceive. And so on. Our sins are just like chives — as long as they aren’t uprooted, no matter how many times they are cut, they will continue to grow. Similarly, if our sinful nature isn’t eliminated, as long as there is the right environment and condition, we’ll continue to sin, and we cannot stop ourselves from doing things we know to betray the Lord’s words. As can be seen, our constant sinning is not a matter of external behavior but comes from the root of sin within us — the corrupt satanic natures. Without eradicating our corrupt dispositions, we’ll still rebel against and resist God in spite of ourselves and never will obey and worship God. This way, how can we be qualified to get into the kingdom of heaven?
“The Lord Jesus said: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world’ (John 12:48). From the prophecies of the Lord, we can see that there are many things the Lord has yet to tell us and that when He returns in the last days, He will do the work of judgment and express words to lead us into all truth. Only if we accept God’s work of the last days, experience the judgment of His words, and have our corrupt dispositions cleansed, are we qualified to enter into God’s kingdom.”
The sister’s fellowship utterly convinced me and I kept nodding. From Almighty God’s words, I came to understand that the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption merely redeemed us of our sins but did not dig up the root of our sin, so we still often sin and resist God, unable to practice His words. I thought of how in those years, I recited and copied verses from the Bible, and knew by heart the Lord’s teachings to constrain myself, but when meeting with things that were not to my liking, I would still get angry and be unable to restrain my anger, and when it came to things that were in my interests, I couldn’t help deceiving. I had been experiencing inexpressible suffering and had no words to describe it. Through this communion, I finally knew that the Lord Jesus had long ago prophesied that in the last days He would express His words and do the work of judgment. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days and having our sinful nature purified can we enter the kingdom of heaven. I kept thanking the Lord in my heart for allowing me to listen to such enlightening fellowship. Since it was getting late that day, I made an appointment with Sister Zhang for the next day so we could continue to fellowship at my friend’s house.
Understanding God’s Judgment and Knowing How to Be Purified of Sin
The next day, I arrived at my friend’s house on time. Thinking of the previous day’s topic of fellowship, I couldn’t wait to ask Sister Zhang: “Sister, despite having believed in the Lord for many years, I’ve always been tightly constrained by the bonds of my sin and it’s very painful for me. I’ve kept trying to find a way to be cleansed of sin but I failed. Through your fellowshiping about Almighty God’s words yesterday, I’ve come to understand that only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can we thoroughly cast off the binds of sin. I still want to know how God does His judgment work to cleanse people. Can you fellowship more with me?”
Smiling, the sister said: “Thank God. That you’re able to have a seeking heart is by God’s enlightenment and is His blessing. Christ of the last days, Almighty God, has expressed all truths to allow people to attain salvation and revealed all the truths and mysteries we never before understood when reading the Bible. With regard to how God does the work of judgment, let’s read Almighty God’s words to help us understand.” As she said this, she opened the book and handed it to me. Excitedly holding the book, I read a passage of Almighty God’s words: “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.”
After I finished reading, the sister shared in fellowship: “Almighty God’s words are very clear. God does the work of judgment of the last days mainly according to the needs of corrupt mankind. He expresses words to judge and expose man’s God-resisting and God-betraying satanic nature, and reveal the truth of mankind’s corruption by Satan. Meanwhile, all aspects of the truth about God’s will and requirements of mankind, about what kind of people will be saved or punished, and so on, are disclosed to us. Also, God shows us the way to cleanse our sins. In addition, based on what we need in life, God also arranges all kinds of situations to discipline, deal with, try and refine us, thereby exposing our various satanic dispositions and allowing us to distinguish between positive and negative things and have a deeper understanding of our satanic nature of resisting and betraying God. For instance, through the revelation of the facts, we see our satanic dispositions of selfishness and lowliness — although we believe in God, we seek blessings and once God’s work doesn’t accord with our notions and our dreams of being blessed are ruined, we misunderstand and complain to God, and even betray Him. In our work and service to God, we often show off ourselves and pursue fame and status so that people look up to us. When faced with things that involve face and interests, we are still capable of cunning and deceit. When others infringe upon our interests, we not only hate them but also develop the idea of taking revenge on them. We are full of various satanic dispositions, such as greed, arrogance, deceit, maliciousness, and so on — we truly have no human likeness. In the process of experiencing God’s judgment, we come to have some understanding of God’s righteous disposition, holiness and kindness. For example, when we disobey God, our spirit is in darkness, we lose our peace and joy and we feel reproached, and sometimes we may be disciplined and pruned; this makes us realize that God’s righteous disposition brooks no offense. On the contrary, when we practice the truth to satisfy God, our souls feel peace and joy and we feel very close to God and have more faith to pursue the truth and satisfy Him. We feel that God is alive and vivid and practical. We are thus happy to accept and obey God’s judgment and implement and live by His words, so our satanic dispositions are gradually cleansed away; this way, we’ll finally live out a true human likeness, becoming a person who truly reveres and obeys God. These are the results achieved by experiencing God’s work of judgment in the last days.”
Hearing the sister’s fellowship was very exciting for me, and I said joyfully: “Sister, after listening to your fellowship, I understand that in the last days, God principally uses the expression of the truth to judge and purify people and also creates environments to change people. I’m very moved inside. It seems that God’s work of judgment in the last days is indeed the work of cleansing man and is entirely necessary for us to know ourselves and break away from sin. Thinking back over recent years, no matter how we’ve sacrificed and suffered for the Lord, the root of our sin can’t be resolved, and in spite of our praying, repenting and confessing, we still can’t attain purification. But now I have hope of breaking free from sin and becoming cleansed. I’ve gained a lot from your fellowship over the last two days. Not only have I understood God’s will to save man, but I also got why I was unable to rid myself of sin. I’m truly so thankful to God! Before because I’d clung to the view that we are called righteous by faith and that we can enter the kingdom of heaven, when you said only by accepting God’s judgment in the last days can we get into heaven, I felt resistance in my heart. I really was too stubborn and stupid. Now I have no misgivings and am willing to accept Almighty God’s judgment work of the last days. Hopefully, we’ll have more chances to fellowship together.”
Laughing, the sister said: “That’s wonderful, sister. Thank God!”
Welcoming the Lord’s Return and Gaining Spiritual Release
When she was leaving, Sister Zhang gave me a book of Almighty God’s words. I held onto the book, feeling as if I’d found some precious treasure. After I returned home, I hungrily, thirstily read God’s words. It turned out that Almighty God has revealed so many truths and mysteries, such as what the incarnation is, what the substance of the incarnation is, the inside story of God’s three stages of work, the difference between God’s work and man’s work, and so on. Each word of Almighty God is so fresh, and when reading His words, I felt I was face to face with God and feasting with Him, and felt at ease, joyful and sweet in my soul. More importantly, I also read the truth that exposes various aspects of man’s corrupt disposition and each word is piercing. What the truth reveals is the things deep within our souls and made me convinced in my speech and heart. I perceived from the bottom of my heart that God observes our hearts and minds and that His righteous disposition does not tolerate offense. I couldn’t help weeping tears of gratitude and falling to the ground before God to pray: “God, thank You for not abandoning me, a sinner, but allowing me to welcome Your return during my lifetime. Thank You so much. Now all I want to do is read Your words more and pursue the truth to attain change in my corrupt dispositions soon. May You lead me!”