The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
10th of June, 2014

Delly Mell, Guardy Ann, the Grace of God, and the Confessing of Sins

See, Delly Mell accepted tabloid status and never pretended. Everybody knows it is hard to make a buck selling literature these days. But Guardy Ann!
Flicking through The Guardian’s website, I quickly discovered an entire ream of “sponsored” content in a newspaper that is supposed to be the last bastion of liberal Western intellectualism. It’s hard to quote the Daily Mail in a scholarly article without getting some funny looks, but The Guardian slips down the gullet of establishment authority with nary a second glance.
Hypocrisy is easier than confessing one’s sin. Yet after Jesus forbade His followers from practicing hypocrisy, that left only one mechanism: confessing—as in admitting to—sins. Essentially, if you were not a hypocrite like the Pharisees and the Saduccees, you were the type who admitted to it when you sinned. That is the meaning of “confess your sins” in the New Testament.

Now, it is sinful for a newspaper like either of The Guardian (RIP) or The Daily Mail (RIP) to be a tabloid. But when the economy got hard, temptation came, and the morals suffered. Now, The Daily Mail was a good Christian, and admitted to the sin: splashed its front page in Lady Gaga’s bottom, and became Delly Mell Hell: a very addictive tabloid with sensationalistic nonsense and enough room for conservative social criticism (cf. Peter Hitchens). It will suffer loss on that Day, but its soul will be saved.

The Guardian, on the other hand, practices hypocrisy. This cannot be forgiven. As 1 John 1:9-10 says:
If we admit to our sins, God may be trusted, in his righteousness, to forgive us our sins and purify us from all wickedness. If we say that we have not sinned, we are making God a liar, and his message has no place in us.
The reason hypocrisy “makes God a liar” is because it is the claim that “we have not sinned,” yet the first thing God affirms regarding Man is that “all have sinned.” So to pretend that you have not sinned is the problem that stands between Man and God in this case. So John the Baptist called the Pharisees “brood of vipers.” Jesus used that, too, and also called them “white-washed tombs, gleaming on top but full of rot” (which Paul also used later). All this was because they put up a holy front when in fact they were just like us.

Admitting to being just like us—that is, confessing that you are just like us—will not enable you to look holy. For that, you have to be a hypocrite. But if you confess to being mere Man, you also confess your sinfulness. You admit to it. When John wrote “confess your sins to one another”, he never meant the auricular confession of the Roman Catholics, since that is neither “to one another” nor really the “confessing” meant in the New Testament.

And Christianity also uniquely enables one to admit to one’s sins, because of the grace which assures the Christian that he will not be condemned in spite of his sin. People with little experience assume that makes people sin more. In reality, the hypocrites are sinning without any help from it. What it allows, however, is that the Christians is also the only one who is able to look the Divine Law straight in the eye and say it is holy. —He knows that whether he doesn’t keep the Divine Law (or even feels a seemingly-innate opposition to it or one of its moral injunctions), it still remains truly holy in spite of him. Being assured that he is not condemned frees him up from having to invent justification for sin (i.e., opposing the Law), or hiding sin when he is aware of it (i.e., hypocrisy). No; the Christian is sure that:
  1. The Law is perfect, holy, and just; to oppose it is to be wrong.
    Non-Christians don’t agree that the Law is perfect. They consider the Law wrong wherever they don’t agree with it (regarding theology, cosmology, punishments, government, homosexuality, abortion, or whatever). They think they are the ultimate Correct. Not even Judaism agrees with the Law of Moses without rabbinical modifications—and so everyone’s rebellion against God is made obvious.

  2. Man is fallen; when he is not opposing the holy Law, he is not obeying it.
    Non-Christians deny that Man is fallen, and so they make excuses for his bad behaviour. They are even shocked or embarassed by his sinful tendencies, so they hide them. This is what hypocrisy means. Either way, the fact is that even when Man has set up his own moral code, he breaks that one too. Not only are people ready to insult God’s Law, they make up hypocritical replacements—even for their own private moral standards—and then break them as well, all the while insisting that they are fit to judge the Law and dissent from it.

  3. When he doesn’t obey the Law, the Christian confesses that he is a sinner.
    When, not if. In this life, Christians fully expect to use the grace of God, which is why they hold fast onto it. It is the sick who need the doctor. In normal life, we confess our disease to the doctor, and, especially when it cannot be hidden (like the cough or acne), to others. But when it can be hidden, we deny having it (like venereal disease or the like). To the Christian, all such “disease” is neither excused (point 1), nor unexpected (point 2), nor hidden (point 3—recursion alert), nor left untreated (point 5).

  4. If he is a Christian, he is not condemned.
    Since the Law is perfect (point 1), and Man is consistently imperfect (point 2), there is no hope for him if he refuses to admit—confess—that he is a sinner (point 3). If he confesses that he is a sinner, he admits that he needs grace. This is what is available in Christianity. It could not have been more laws, because we already admit to point 2. This is why the Reformation was important. This is why God made Paul write into the New Testament. The first 3 points are just hard reality; this last point is grace. God gives it, the Old Testament promised it, the New Testament reveals it, Christianity packages it, Protestantism teaches it.

  5. If he is a Christian, he obeys the Law anyway.
    You see, on top of being sufficient for righteousness in God’s eyes, Christianity changes a man’s heart first and then his situation. Over time, the change becomes hard to deny; about this, too, Christians do not pretend. It is even assured that, however undesirable a man may be as a Christian, his heart, and consequently his works, would grow much more sinful without Christianity. The theologians have many paragraphs on this in the various confessions (“admissions”) of faith, but the secular view is more-interesting, because it allows us to see the stark difference between the sin and wickedness that Islam, for instance, inspires among the faith, versus the … what are Christians known for? Surely point 2 insists! :o)

    You see, Jesus hid a “trick” in the most-repeated prayer in the Christian World (the only “rote learning” He instituted). There is “Our Father, who is in Heaven … Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” If point 2 were not true, Jesus would have taught us to say “Bring on the temptation!” But He taught us to ask to be excused, because we are weak. The “Lord’s Prayer” is not heroic. It asks to be excused temptation. What this does is that God keeps “evil” away from a person and a community and a nation that prays this. Less temptation is the only way to have less sin. Less evil is the only way to have a good life. Christianity thus changes a man’s heart (less sin, less “hardening”) and his situation (good life, in this life).
The problem Christianity deals with here is not “How do we stop people from sinning?” That is what all other religions do. They are wasting time. It can’t be done, just as surely as the dead cannot be stopped from rotting.
Christianity says “How do we make sinful people able to have a relationship with God?” It doesn’t—cannot—deny that they are sinful. All other religions allow you some method to claim (falsely) that you are sinless; Christianity doesn’t, and instead allows you to admit (truthfully) to your sins. Imagine: in making possible a life of true holiness by faith, Christianity even abolishes the need to appear holy in order to actually be holy, because it teaches you that the Doctor-God is comfortable with sick humanity. Quoting Jesus (Matthew 23:25-28):
Alas for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are filled with the results of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the dish, so that the outside may become clean as well.
Alas for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed look fair outside, while inside they are filled with dead people’s bones and all kinds of filth. It is the same with you. Outwardly, and to others, you have the look of religious people, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and sin.
See, clean the inside. It is what matters. And the Christian is clean inside, because he accepts the Divine Law. He says, with Paul, that mankind is fallen and sinful.
He also understands and accepts that what is here now is not perfect, even his own “daily walk”. The experience of this life is lacking, it is distant from God, and it is oriented to failure. It ends in death. The Christian knows and accepts that this World is evolving opposite to the ideal, because God is too far from us (because, of course, a truly holy God would never neighbour-up with a humanity as fallen as me, Hitler, or you). Instead of creating a false god, the Christian accepts the distance. He admits to being a sinner; the kind from whom God is understably far, and to whom God is therefore a tight mystery (“Trinity”), even after special revelation.

The occasional beautiful song, righteous cause, honourable officer, just law, nutritious fruit, curvaceous woman, or smile of the baby is merely the less-damaged remains of what was once the perfect creation; all we have now is the parts that has so far survived the entropy.

The Christian, however, has faith in God through believing in Jesus Christ, who was raised from entropy as a signal for all mankind that this is the faith with the life in it. But one condition, which many never manage to fulfill, is the injuction against hypocrisy. Christianity is not for those who would like to keep up the appearance of holiness. Christianity is an abandonment of justification by works of the Law (“works of religion”, which is “do X and you shall live”), for justification by faith (“(1) the Law is perfect, (2) Man is sinful and condemned to death—and there, (4) but for the Grace of God, (3) go I.”).
We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am earthly—sold into slavery to sin.
I do not understand my own actions. For I am so far from habitually doing what I want to do, that I find myself doing the thing that I hate. But when I do what I want not to do, I am admitting that the Law is right. This being so, the action is no longer my own, but is done by the sin which is within me.

I know that there is nothing good in me—I mean in my earthly nature. For, although it is easy for me to want to do right, to act rightly isn’t easy. I fail to do the good thing that I want to do, but the bad thing that I want not to do—that I habitually do. But, when I do the thing that I want not to do, the action is no longer my own, but is done by the sin which is within me. This, then, is the law that I find—when I want to do right, wrong presents itself! At heart I delight in the Law of God; but throughout my body I see a different law, one which is in conflict with the law accepted by my reason, and which endeavours to make me a prisoner to that law of sin which exists throughout my body.

Miserable man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body that is bringing me to this death? Thank God, there is deliverance through Jesus Christ, our Lord! Well then, for myself, with my reason I serve the Law of God, but with my earthly nature the Law of sin. There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in union with Christ Jesus; for through your union with Christ Jesus, the Law of the life-giving Spirit has set you free from the Law of sin and death. What Law could not do, in so far as our earthly na- ture weakened its action, God did, by sending his own Son, with a nature resembling our sinful nature, to atone for sin. He condemned sin in that earthly nature, so that the require- ments of the Law might be satisfied in us who live now in obedience, not to our earthly nature, but to the Spirit.
Romans 7:14:-8:4