We all sin. The Bible teaches that very clearly and we know it. What do we do with sin? One of the most crippling diseases is to harbor that sin and let it grow bigger and bigger. We feel guilty. We become tied up with emotions that are unhealthy. We try to rationalize why we did it. We try to avoid thinking about it. We make excuses. None of that works.
The only answer is to confess sin. It is the only healthy way to deal with our sin.
Elwin Wilson was raised in the South. He joined the Ku Klux Klan years ago to stop racial integration. John Lewis was a black Freedom Rider who tried to enter a “whites only” waiting room at the bus station in Rock Hill, SC in1961. Wilson and several of his racist friends beat Lewis mercilessly. That memory haunted Wilson. It ruined his life. He harbored that sin.
Lewis became a prominent member of the U.S. Congress. One day Wilson got an appointment and went to Lewis’ office to personally apologize. He said, “My daddy always told me that a fool never changes his mind and a smart man changes his mind. Will you forgive me?”
Wilson became a national symbol for reconciliation and redemption. He made a lot of public appearances with Lewis. He tells of this change of heart. He has publicly said, “All I can say is that it has bothered me for years, all the bad stuff I have done.” He said that his ultimate decision to renounce racial hatred and confess to John Lewis was because of the faith he had come to experience. He said he knew “there is no way I could be saved and get to heaven and still not like blacks.”
Governor George Wallace became an icon of segregation when he stood in the schoolhouse door in Tuscaloosa. He ran for public office. He was elected Governor of the State of Alabama on a platform of racial segregation. His famous statement, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” echoed throughout the nation for a lot of years.
In his later life Governor Wallace began to see that he was wrong. Some people accused him of changing his mind for political reasons. He publicly began to confess to African-American people and ask them to forgive him.
He watched our Frazer worship services on television. He stayed home and turned the TV up really loud because following the attempted assassination on his life, his hearing had become greatly impaired. He asked me to come see him several times. He always wanted to know if God would forgive him. He knew that people had forgiven him, but he wanted to be sure that God had forgiven him.
I, along with some others, repeatedly assured him that God’s promise is true that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” (I John 1:9)
I remember well visiting with him not long before he died. He would use a blackboard and chalk to write. Some of the best words I have ever seen written were when Governor Wallace wrote “I know I am forgiven.”
The only way to deal with sin is to confess it, and God’s promise is that He will forgive. The Good News is that God’s confession booth is always open!