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Posted by Dr. Scott Solberg on Feb 21, 2018 with 1 Comments

God’s Kindness and a Bar of Soap

THIS IS THE TESTIMONY OF MARY POPLIN, a college professor once steeped in New Age thought, which denied any sense of personal sin or guilt. In fact, Poplin once classified herself as being “spiritual but not religious, which meant I could be good without God.”

But slowly God began to reveal the sin of her own heart. She remembers having a vivid dream where she saw Jesus. When she saw Jesus in her dream, she said, “I grasped immediately that every cell in my body was filled with filth. Weeping, I fell at his feet. But when he touched my shoulders, I suddenly felt perfect peace.”

After sharing this dream with a friend, her friend encouraged her to begin reading the Bible. Through this experience, not only did she become convinced that evil exits, but that it exists inside of her.

She writes, “On the first Sunday in January 1993, I was sitting in a very small Methodist church where my mother had grown up, listening to the pastor invite the congregation to Communion. When the time came to go forward, I prayed to God, ‘If you are real, please come and get me.’ Suddenly, I felt the same peace I had known in the dream.

To clean up my soul, God taught me what a good friend of mine calls the ‘bar of soap’ passage–1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I asked God to forgive me for having watched pornography, and I felt no desire to see it any longer.

But forgiveness wasn’t always easy to accept. I had undergone two abortions, and over three long years of prayer, I doubted whether God had truly forgiven me. Some counselors and fellow Christians had encouraged me to ‘forgive myself,’ but the more I searched the Scriptures the more confident I was that forgiveness could only come as God’s gift. Like Paul, I had to learn to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead,” toward, “the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Read Mary Poplin’s full story here.

What about you? Has been a while since you have used that “bar of soap” called confession? Paul reminds us in Romans 2:4 that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. God always cleanses a humble and repentant heart.

CR Mar 4, 2018 8:54am

It is glorious to have salvation and forgiveness. While I do not understand why God would take time for me, I accept this readily as I know there is nothing I can do to save myself.

While that is wonderful, I think remembering the real world consequences of our sin even with the cleansing blood of Christ is very important. The real life tangible fallout is perhaps one of the most sobering aspects of sin. While God forgave David for his sins and he was a man of faith, the earthly consequences of his being an inadequate father (his lack of response of his son Amnon's sin against his sister Tamar) and his other sins led to incredible consequences to himself and to the nation of Israel. When we speak of David and his sin with Bethesheda and the murder of Uriah, I do not know if I have ever heard anyone hypothesize about the sorrow David's actions caused to the victim's family. Do we ever think about how his mother or sister (if he had one) may have felt and how David remaining on the throne caused them immeasurable grief as they knew a murderer still reigned over Israel? Do we ever think to ourselves how our sins are not just a "God and me" scenario? When I see how the world responds to us as Christians, they often mention that Christianity seems to be a "get out of jail free" card. They see individual restoration but do not see how Christians go back and seek to correct wrongs. If we not only sought to be at peace with God with forgiveness of sins, but looked to make earthly amends with truly sorrowful hearts and willingness to sacrifice for those we have victimized by gossip, inattention, disrespect, or other behaviors, wouldn't the power of the Lord be a shining beacon for those who feel Christianity does not represent justice?

Grace is amazing because when I realize who I would be without Jesus, it makes me shudder and I am so immensely relieved there is a way to become something so much more than I would have ever been on my own. I try to remember that forgiveness is not just a means of reconciliation. Rather, there is further purpose in this reconciliation to God and that includes us being conduits of His will in our families, with our friends and in a hurting world. Grace gets me back into the "race" that Paul talks about, a race that does not allow for forward movement when there is unconfessed sin.

I love grace because it means my soul is free to be at one with the Lord again but when I ask for forgiveness, I also God to show the same grace and love to those I have hurt, to help me make amends where I can and be humble so they can see the both the forgiveness and justice Christianity affords us. Frankly, I find this harder at times because I know the Lord knows what I have done and how I've sinned so I know He's not surprised. However, public acknowledgement of my wrong and asking others how may I fix my mess is harder because I know they may not be as gracious as God is about my shortcomings or simply seeing I have hurt someone's feelings is hard to bear. So to me, forgiveness of sins represents God's grace, a time to remember what it cost Jesus to bring me this gift, to see if there are others who I have wronged who I need to seek forgiveness/restoration from and finally, listening to what He wants to accomplish through me since with the forgiveness of sin, the communication between us has been restored.