“Confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16) Those who remain alone with their evil are left utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. For the pious community permits no one to be a sinner. Hence all have to conceal their sins from themselves and from the community. We are not allowed to be sinners. Many Christians would be unimaginably horrified if a real sinner were suddenly to turn up among the pious. So we remain alone with our sin, trapped in lies and hypocrisy, for we are in fact sinners.
However, the grace of the gospel, which is so hard for the pious to comprehend, confronts us with the truth. It says to us, you are a sinner, a great, unholy sinner. Now come, as the sinner that you are, to your God who loves you. For God wants you as you are, not desiring anything from you – a sacrifice, a good deed – but rather desiring you alone. God has come to you to make the sinner blessed. Rejoice! This message is liberation through truth. You cannot hide from God. The mask you wear in the presence of other people won’t get you anywhere in the presence of God. God wants to see you as you are, wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and to other Christians as if you were without sin. You are allowed to be a sinner. Thank God for that; God loves the sinner but hates the sin.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 93.
I’m about to head out to do some work but was just re-reading a passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic “Life Together” and loved this passage. I love the way Bonhoeffer writes and I love this passage. He has more trust in the grace of God than he does anything else. That’s a good thing to trust in. I believe our sins are destructive to us and God wants to save us from that, and from ourselves, but at the end of the day it is all about God’s grace and not our effort.
Martin Luther puts it more succinctly. “Sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be bolder.“