The devil milks sin twice. First he tricks us into committing it. Then, after we ask God’s forgiveness, he gets us to keep beating ourselves up about it.
This doesn’t need to happen, and God’s Word says we have no right to these post-confession doldrums. They are of human conception, not God’s idea at all. Consider Isaiah as an example of not giving Satan the satisfaction of post-transgression morbidity.
Let us follow closely the sequence of events in Isaiah 6:
- Isaiah’s vision of God’s holiness allows him to see how bad his life looks by stark contrast: “Woe is me! For I am lost …” (6:5, ESV).
- A seraphim with a live coal comes to the rescue and touches Isaiah’s lips, an act by which the angel declares to him to be as clean as a newborn: “… your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for” (6:7, ESV).
- The Lord’s voice is heard, recruiting a volunteer for a mission of warning to sinners: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us” (6:8, ESV).
- Isaiah pipes up immediately and without hesitation: “Here I am! Send me” (6:8, ESV).
- The Lord picks him for the job instantly: “Go, and say to this people …” (6:9, ESV).
Isaiah “gets” it. When God says, “Forgiven,” you’re forgiven.
In this world there are waiting periods for marriage licenses, waiting periods for gun purchases, waiting periods for college acceptances, waiting periods on immigration lists. But there is no waiting period between the forgiveness God gives in answer to a contrite heart and the cleanness and restoration of our good standing with God. He says:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV).
I don’t see anything about a cooling-off period for God, and doghouse time for you. So then why do we act like we’re in the doghouse following our prayer requesting forgiveness? (Yikes, I’m not the only one, am I?) Why do we excommunicate ourselves when God doesn’t excommunicate us? This has the appearance of humility but is rank unbelief. How so? Because God says we’re forgiven, but we say, “No, no, God. Nobody can forgive that fast. I’m afraid I have decided not to talk to You for two weeks until I feel really forgiven. … Oh, and don’t ask for a volunteer to go out with Your message. I will be quite indisposed for a season until I am satisfied that I’m clean.”
If God weren’t God, it would be enough to make Him tear out His holy hair.