Giving up Perfection | Kylen Perry

Kylen Perry // Mar 12, 2024

All of life is a drawing close or a drifting away from God — but what makes the difference? This week, Kylen Perry points to 1 John 1 and makes the case that confessing our sin and accepting the gift of forgiveness is the key to closeness to Christ.

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Good evening, Porch. How are we doing tonight? Good? Hey, welcome. It's so good to have you here with us this Tuesday. Whether you've been here many times or this is your first time, I mean it when I say this: thanks for trusting us with your Tuesday. Genuinely, we're really glad you're here. Any spring breakers in the room tonight? Anybody in town because you're on spring break? Welcome. We're glad to have you here. We're so grateful that you would come and hang out with us on Tuesday.

We not only have some friends joining us here, but we have some friends joining us from around the nation. Special shout-out to our Porch.Live locations, and specifically, Porch.Live Indy, Porch.Live Des Moines, and Atlanta. Thanks for jumping in. We're so glad you're here, and we're grateful, as well, that you would give us your Tuesdays.

Hey, if you had known me in grade school… I'm ashamed to admit it, but you would have known I was pretty average when it came to most athletic sports. I'm not too proud. I can stand up here and say that. I wasn't the tallest kid, the strongest kid, or the fastest kid, but I got by. I made do with what I had. I had a can-do attitude, and I was full of determination and grit. I was willing to put in the work that other people wouldn't.

I would show up early and stay late. I was that kid. I was full of hustle. I had a motor, which helped me a lot. I got by on that for the longest time. Then I made it to high school. What I found when I turned 14 years old and walked into the doors of the high school football locker room was that I was no longer in the company of my well-meaning 14-year-old peers. No, now I was in the company of grown men.

Where I had peach fuzz, they had full beards. Where I was just kind of cresting out of puberty, they were with deep bass voices. Where I was getting dropped off, they were driving themselves. There was a vast difference when I made my way into high school. As a result of all of those differences, the athletic chasm between where I was and where they were was very noticeable. It was hard to realize that all of my can-do attitude and determination wasn't sufficient.

I showed up, and I realized I couldn't get by on the merits of my efforts any longer. Instead, I realized why they say, "We're separating the men from the boys," because I was the boy in the locker room. They were all so much more athletic, so much better than I was. If the performance on the field wasn't enough to demonstrate just how wide the difference was between us, we went into PR testing, which really silenced any doubt that they were far more athletic than I was.

If you don't know what PR testing is, PR testing is personal record testing within a variety of skills. We would do things like run the 400. We would run the 40. We would do the bench press. We would squat and see who could push the most weight. I'm not lying to you. If there was any doubt that I was far behind the rest of the competition, all doubts were silenced.

When we came out of the PR testing period of our group, what I learned was within my skill position, I tested last in every single skill…except for one, which was height, which I really don't have much control over. I just kind of got whatever my mom and dad gave me, so I can't take credit for that one, even though I still do take great ownership of it today.

But I had absolutely nothing to brag about. I was weaker than everybody else. I was absolutely exposed because of these PR days. I was weaker, slower, and smaller than everyone. I just wasn't as good as them, yet those PR days were the very best thing for me. Why would I say that? Because it showed me just how far behind everyone else I was.

Even though it brought me face-to-face with the reality of how weak I was, it brought me to the point where I was finally honest with myself. I wasn't as good. Not only that. I was far worse than I thought, yet that could change. I could grow. I had been united to something so much bigger than me. I had joined this new team. Because I was a part of something bigger than me, I could be better than I was previously. I could actually make progress in all of the areas I felt so incredibly weak within.

Why do I tell you that? Because in the same way, when you meet God, you do become a part of something so much bigger than you, and as a result, you do grow and you do get better than you were previously. This is what happens when we enter into, not the high school locker room, but the family of God. When we place our faith in Jesus and step into his kingdom and unite alongside his people, what happens is he takes us where we are and moves us along the way and makes us more like his Son.

That's what I want to talk to you about tonight, but what we need to know is while that seems like such a great course of progress, that progress comes by way of exposure. Where I PR tested and found out just how bad I was, the apostle John is going to take us through a spiritual PR test tonight. He's going to expose before us not only that we're bad, but we're much worse than we think, yet we have great hope, because we can grow and get better as a result of our union to Christ.

So, if you have a Bible with you, you can pull it out and turn with me to 1 John, chapter 1. As you're doing so, here's what you need to know. John is going to simply tell you, as you walk with God and experience his greatness, you are going to come face-to-face with your weakness, today, tomorrow, and the day after that. You're going to go through one spiritual PR test after the other, yet the point of it all is to, yes, expose your deficiencies, but also help you come to grips with the fact that you can become more like Christ. There is hope on the other side.

As we come to 1 John, as we come to his letter, what he's going to say is before he pushes us to consider ourselves…how we need to grow, how we need to get better, what it looks like to become more like Christ…we need to consider God. That's where this whole thing starts. That's where he begins. So, 1 John, chapter 1, starting in verse 5: "This is the message we have heard from him [Jesus] and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." John wants us to know that when we see God clearly, we will see ourselves clearly in comparison.

John would know how to actually tell us about God, because John was an apostle of Jesus. He was also, arguably, Jesus' best friend, which means… If you have a best friend in the room, they're closer to you than anyone. John is the guy who's closer to Jesus, closer to the Son of God than anybody else, and tonight, he's going to look at us and go, "Hey, there's a way to get close to him, but it doesn't start first and foremost with you."

Before we understand the nature of man, we need to understand the nature of God, because Christianity…spoiler alert…is not fundamentally about you; it's about him. So, that's what he says. He says, in essence, what A.W. Tozer says, which is "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

So, what comes to mind for John? John tells us. He says, "When I think about God, what I think about is that he is light." That is interesting, because John is the only New Testament author to make any kind of assertion about the divine nature of God. Other authors describe his attributes and his activity, yet John actually defines the very essence of God's being, which is really audacious.

Most people, when they're talking about their friends, describe them. John defines him. For instance, I say, "Bob is kind," not "Bob is kindness." That would be odd. I say, "Bob is wise," not "Bob is wisdom." Yet John is sitting here tonight, and he's looking at us and saying, "It's not just that God is kind or God is patient or God is peaceful. What you need to know is that God is light." He's defining him for us.

Great. Thanks, John. "God is light." What does that even mean? What is that sort of assertion? What are you trying to help me understand when you're saying, "God is light"? What we need to know is by saying this, he's employing an idea… Over the course of the entire Scripture, this idea of light is symbolic of a couple of important things. We see it pop up over 200 times in the entirety of the Bible, from beginning to end, and more often than not, it's representative of two things.

The first thing light is representative of is truth or reality. It reveals what's actually there, whereas darkness, in contrast to truth, is representative of error. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." If you jump down to verse 130, it says, "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple."

When John says God is light, he wants us to know God brings understanding to us. He offers clarity. He makes sense of what's confusing. What's fascinating is we talk about light in the same way. If I came up to you and was like, "Hey, can you shed some light on that situation for me?" what would I be asking? I'd be asking, "Can you help me understand what's going on there? Can you reveal to me what the circumstances of that situation are in specific?" That's what we say when we say, "Hey, can you shed some light?"

So, to help us understand, he is saying God is trying to shed light on your situation. He's trying to help you come into the understanding of what's true about you, that when we see him, we will see ourselves. That's the first thing. Light is representative of reality, but it's also representative of purity or moral uprightness or virtue. That's the second thing. That's what it represents. Sin, in contrast to light, is representative of evil. God is pure. Sin is evil.

Ephesians 5:8-9 says, "…for at one time you were darkness…" You were evil. You were enemies of God. You were darkness. "…but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…" Not children of darkness, not enemies of God any longer. "…(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)…" Those things which are pure. By describing God as light, John is saying it is God's essential nature to radiate truth and purity.

You see, God is similar to the sun in that the sun makes clear to us. It reveals what is actually seen, but it not only brings revelation, it not only shows us what's there; it also warms us, comforts us, and makes us feel good. This is how God operates as light. He helps us to find revelation but also a sense of deep satisfaction.

What we know is this means God is perfect. There's no flaw in him. There's no flaw in him intellectually, because he's truth, and there's no flaw in him morally, because he's pure. That's what John goes on to say. "…in him [in God] is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."

What's he getting at? Our first point for the night: God and sin do not mix. They don't mix. By definition, darkness is the absence of light. They don't mix. They're opposite in nature. If I illustrated it for you like this, maybe it would be helpful. If we turned off all of the lights in this room, we would find that most everything is concealed. In this moment, we struggle to make sense of anything around us. It's hard to understand. It's confusing to grasp.

Sure, we might be able to make the faint silhouette of certain people around us, but there's no definition. There's no clarity in the room whatsoever. If we turn the lights back on, clarity returns. Error abates. Definition is given. We can see everything all at once. Here's what we illustrate by doing that. When darkness is in the room, light is absent, but when light shows up, darkness disappears. It leaves. It's gone. They cannot be in the same place at the same time.

So it is with God and sin. God is light. Sin is darkness. They are by essence opposed to each other. Now, you may hear that and think to yourself, "Kylen, thanks so much for telling me that God is the source of all moral beauty and truth in the world and he cannot coincide with that that is the source of all error and evil in the world. Thank you. As if I didn't know that already."

That seems so obvious, but here's what I would say. I talk to young adults all the time. They come and visit, and they ask me the question, "Man, I feel distant from God. He feels hard to find. It's as if my spirituality has dried up. Things around me are arid. It's a desert out here, bro. Why? Why is this the case? What do I need to do?"

The first thing I often do is ask them the question, "Where's sin in your life?" which feels really invasive, but it also feels unnecessarily obvious. "Are you serious, bro? That's all it is? Where's sin in my life? That's the thing you're going to ask me? You just want to know where I am entertaining sin, where the Devil's playground is in my life? That's all it is?"

Here's what we know. If God and sin do not mix, then where sin is present, God will be absent. The quickest way to sever your nearness to God is to anchor yourself in sin. John is literally saying, "Hey, if you claim to have fellowship with God, relationship to God, yet you walk in the dark, you're lying to yourself, because they can't coexist. They're opposite in nature."

So, as we think through this… I've said this to this room before, but all of life is either a drawing near or a drifting away from God…all of it…everything you do, everything you think, all of the words you speak, whatever video you watch. Everything you do, the very food you eat, the way you sit right now… It's all so very consequential. All of life, everything you do, will either lead you close to God or it will distance you from him.

The Scriptures tell us we are to do all things… Whether you eat or drink, do all things to the glory of God. All. There's no exception to that. Everything we do, everything we are, is for the purposes of his glory. He's worthy, so we live our lives to that end. The beauty of it is as we give God glory, we get rolled up and brought into the deep joy he offers.

When we don't do that, when we indulge our sin, we scratch whatever our itch is, we satisfy our carnal cravings, what we find is we go distant. We lose our nearness. We divorce our proximity. We get away from him. This can feel really alarming. "Okay. So, you're telling me that if I'm walking in darkness, I can't have fellowship with him?"

We all know, if we're honest… If we're sitting here tonight and could be honest with each other, we could say, "Yeah, I'm not morally perfect." You don't even have to look over the course of however many years of life I have. You can look at today. You can just take a look at whatever I've seen, whatever I've said, whatever I've done. You can just take a look, roll the recording, and you can realize I'm not perfect at all. I've done some stuff today that's actually, in fact, bad. I'm the guy onstage and can admit to that.

We would be traumatized if we actually rolled on this screen behind me the things we have done or said or thought today. So roll the tape, guys. Let's show them. How does that make you feel? Nervous, right? Because you know it's true. You're like, "Don't put it up there. Don't show that message. Don't show the history. Don't play the video." We know we've done stuff, because in our heart of hearts, we know we're dark. The stain does go so very deep, and it leaves us anxious, worried, confused, and ashamed.

What do we do with that? Does that mean because those things are there, because of what John is saying, we can't have fellowship with God? Are you here tonight, and because of your sin, your imperfection, that bad in your life, does it mean fellowship with him is impossible? No, because that's what he goes on to say in verse 7.

He says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light…" If we walk with God in his essence, the essence of his being…truth and purity. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." Question: Is perfection the expectation of verse 7? Is John expecting you to be perfect? No. Absolutely not. He says the blood of Jesus cleanses you.

Why do you need the blood of Jesus? To cleanse you, to forgive you of your sins, to take that which is bad and get rid of it, to take that which makes you dead and get rid of it. That's what he's pointing to. He's saying, "Jesus has come to do two things. He has come to forgive you and cleanse you," which he will say later on.

Right now, he says, "Therefore, walk with him and be cleansed by him." He gives you two verbs. What's interesting about those verbs in the Greek is they're both in the present tense, which means it's a continuous state of being. It's not a "one and done" sort of situation. We walk with Jesus continually, and as we walk with him, we're cleansed. We're made whole.

Straight out of college, I worked for a nutritional life sciences company, a company that focused on health and wellness. It was awesome. It was great. I'll get into an elaborate story about it another time, because it deserves to be told. In the company's corporate gym, which was amazing, there was a dry sauna. I got really into dry "saunaing." I turned into a dry sauna bathing buffoon. I loved it.

I had read up on the details of how this thing would be beneficial for my health, so I bought into it. I got all the way in, thinking, "This is going to be beneficial for my health." Every single day while I worked at that company, I would dry sauna after I worked out. The reason for it was because I knew one of the benefits it offered was "As I sit in this sauna and gently heat myself, I'm detoxified. All of the impurities just sweat away."

Why do I tell you that? I'm not trying to convert you to dry sauna bathing. You can go cold plunge if you want to. I'm not sure what the effects of that are. What I do know is this is how Jesus works with us. As we prolong our time with him… What happens is as you walk with him, he detoxifies you. He rids you of any impurities, because it's a continual process. It's in a present sort of tense, the way John is describing it right here in verse 7.

That is good news to us, because it means as we come to God, we're not meant to be perfect; we're meant to be perfected. Some of you have walked in tonight, and you're like, "Man! I'm not perfect. I know that." So, you're trying so hard to measure up. You're trying to earn heaven's smile. You're trying to do whatever is possible so God will actually tolerate you. Like, "God, you don't even have to accept me, but will you just tolerate me? Will you let me in through the pearly gates?"

You're doing everything in your power to earn your way in. You're trying to be perfect for him. This Scripture is saying, "No." You don't come to him and be perfect; you come to him, and he makes you perfect in time. You walk with him, and he cleanses you along the way. You don't have to clean yourself up. That's his job. This is what it says in verse 7.

As we go to verse 8, John keeps going. He says, "If we say we have no sin…" If we claim to be perfect. "…we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." If God is light, and we walk with him, then the result should be honesty about ourselves. You don't walk with him and say, "There's no sin in me." We all just admitted there is. So, if we sit here tonight and say, "There's no sin in me, God. I'm perfect. I'm doing the best I can. I am, in fact, good," we are actually walking in denial. We're deceiving ourselves.

John is saying, "Don't do that. Be honest about yourself." Just like PR testing in high school gave me a baseline upon which I could evaluate myself against my peers, it is the presence of God that gives you a baseline upon which you can evaluate your good deeds. Just so you know, they don't measure up. Your goodness will never measure up. Because we have him as a sound comparison point and we can register the fact that he is light, we know we're not.

Here's what's fascinating. Two-thirds of the United States agrees with this statement, across religious lines, across socioeconomic backgrounds. Two-thirds, over 66 percent of Americans, are saying, "I know I'm sinful, at least a little bit." We're willing to say, "I know something is not right in me." Here's the problem with that. The problem isn't that we're unwilling to admit we're sinful; we're unwilling to admit just how sinful we are. That's the issue.

We know, generally, "Yeah, man. I'm not the best person, but who is? Everybody has some kind of skeleton in the closet, something they've done wrong." Yet we must come to grips not with our general admittance of sin but our specific admittance of sin, because the issue here that John is saying is there is no relationship where there is no honesty.

When I was in college, I had a pickup truck. I loved this thing. It was my truck from high school. It was my truck given to me at 16 years old. I took it to college with me. It was amazing, everything a kid from East Texas would want…six-inch lift, GMC Sierra Z71. When I took my prom date out in high school, I had a step stool to help her get up into the truck. I was a true gentleman.

So, I took this thing to college, and I loved it. I was driving down the road. Yet it started to behave oddly. I would drive it down the road, and I would hit a bump, and the whole thing would start shaking around. It was like, "I don't really know why it's doing that," but I would just slowly press the brake, things would come back to a calm, and I would just drive along my way…until I hit another bump and started shaking along. Then I would slowly press the brake, bring things back to a pause, and carry on my way.

I did this for a really long time until one day I was driving to class. I had an 8:00 a.m., up early, making my way to school. As I was blitzing through a red light, I needed to turn left. As I turned the steering wheel left, the truck kept barreling on forward, which was a problem, because it revealed to me that there was an issue, one that had gone unchecked for a very long time.

Do you want to know what the issue was? To my mechanic's horror, the steering column of the vehicle had been detached from the front axle. Meaning, it didn't control the tires anymore. I was disconnected from the truck. Any movement I made did not have any impact on where I was now going. Why do I tell you that? Because I did not consider the seriousness of my problem, and it put me into a dire situation.

I wonder how many of us do this ourselves. We see problems pop up in our life, little alarms, little oddities, things that are strange and out there, yet we don't address them. We just kind of ignore them, press the brake, until they subside and go away. We carry on until eventually we find ourselves in dire straits. The reason for this is we've deceived ourselves. We have admitted our sin generally, but we've not admitted our sin specifically.

We know we're not perfect, but rather than calling our sin out for what it is and addressing the seriousness of the problem, we just kind of veil it in cagey language. We say things like, "I struggle with lust. I'm wrestling with pride. I'm frustrated with that person. I gossip sometimes, but who doesn't?" As we do this, we belittle the magnitude of our issue, and in so doing, we amplify the seriousness with which the consequence will come to bear.

What we see in John's letter is "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." He tells us, "Rather than concealing the truth about yourself, confess it. Get it out. Don't hide it any longer." It's only when we drag ourselves into the truth of God's light that our darkness can finally be fixed.

Listen to me on this, especially those of you who have been walking with Jesus for a long time. Spiritual maturity, according to the apostle John, is not seeing less of your sin; it's seeing more of it. True spiritual maturity is not seeing less of your sin; it's seeing more of it. Why? Why can we extract that conclusion from his letter? Because, as we walk in the light, greater exposure comes to bear upon our sin.

If we are, in fact, as close to Jesus as we say we are…"I'm spiritually mature. We're boys. We hang out. I'm so close to him"…that light should become all the more exposing. It should only come to increase in our life, and thus, any pride and any egotism should decrease in the face of that radiance. This is what we know. We confess our sins, and Jesus, in his kindness, rightly leads us to a place of forgiveness and cleansing.

So, why do we confess? What does that word even mean? In the Greek, the word confession means to say the same thing as another person. It means to agree with someone else. So, when we confess our sins to God, we're agreeing with God about ourselves. God knows how dark you are. There's nothing you've done that's hidden from him.

No matter how hard you try, no matter how committed you are to taking that thing to the grave (and, friends, I've been there in that place), he knows anyway. He sees all of it exactly as it is, and he just wants us to come to him and be honest. "God, you're light, and I'm not. You're good, and I'm not. You're right, and I'm not, God. I am not right on my own. I cannot save myself, yet you can."

That's why the first step of every believer, anybody who walks with Jesus, is confession. It's what theologians call judicial forgiveness. In a moment, the minute I confess my sins and receive the gift of God from Jesus and declare him as Lord… The minute that's done, all of my sin, past, present, and future, is forgiven forever and finally. It's never coming back. It will never separate you from the love of God.

We don't just confess for that; we confess continually. Why? Because there's also an element to confession that is relational. There's judicial forgiveness and relational forgiveness. Relational forgiveness says, "Hey, your position as a son or daughter of God will never change. That's never going anywhere, but your proximity can change. Your nearness to him, your fellowship with him, can be hurt if you do hurt him."

No different than if a son sins against his parent. There's going to be strain in the relationship. So, too, is that the case for us with God when we sin against him. So, why do we confess? Because it keeps us close. That's what it does. John says God is faithful. He's just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we confess, there are two results. I'm going to go through these quickly. The first result is forgiveness. When we confess to God, forgiveness floods over all of our wrongs. Guilt is removed. That's the first thing you need to know. When I come to God and confess, my guilt is taken away. That nagging pain you have in the pit of your stomach because you know you did something wrong…

When you come to God and confess it, that's taken away. Forgiveness floods over that thing. But you have to address it specifically. It's similar to spam in your inbox. One day, I just got sick of it. Every time I went to my inbox, it was just spam everywhere. I don't even know how. I didn't subscribe to this stuff. But do you know what I did have to do? I had to unsubscribe to that stuff.

I could not unsubscribe by just checking it all at once and throwing it in the trash, because it would come back. The way I unsubscribed was by addressing them one by one by one by one, by confessing them individually. As I did, what happened to my inbox? It was emptied of any impurity, all the guilt of those spam emails. They were gone. We get forgiveness.

The second thing we get is cleansing. When we confess our sins, guilt is removed, yes, and joy is restored. That's what we know. In Psalm 51:7-8, it says, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice."

When you confess, you remove the bad, all of your guilt, and you receive the good, all of God's joy. Is that not good reason to do this? Is that not good reason to come to God, the one who knows it all anyway, and just own it, admit it, and seek his forgiveness, that you might experience a ridding of that guilt and a restoring of that joy? That's the offer on the table for you.

So, how do you know God will do it? Because it says he's faithful and just to do it. He's faithful. This is the gospel. The gospel is that Jesus Christ has come to do this for you. If you've believed in him, he has taken your sin away. No longer is there any condemnation for you. He's faithful. He'll take it. But he's also just. He's just to do it. What we know is he has already borne the consequence of our sin in death, so now, for those who have placed their faith in him, it is characteristically impossible for God to revisit his wrath. That's amazing news!

It's characteristically impossible. Not just circumstantially impossible, not just subjectively impossible. No, it is characteristically impossible. God would have to go against his character to revisit his wrath on you, but he cannot do it. Why? Because he's faithful. Because God's own character won't let him do it. Jesus Christ has stepped into your place. The wages of sin is death. So he absorbed it. He took the hit. He died your death. He served your sentence so you could go free and have no worry of this ever at all.

First John 2:1-2 says, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." He's right on your behalf. "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

John is telling us there is no sin too dark for the Light of the World, no sin at all that's too dark. The way we know that is through these two words he uses to describe Jesus. Jesus is both an advocate for sinners and an atonement for sin. That's what the word propitiation means. It means atonement.

He's an advocate. As you one day come before God and all your life is written in record before him, every wrong, Jesus will stand beside you and advocate for you and say, "I paid for it all. Any condemnation, any consequence upon them…I took that. They get to go free." The good news of that is God the Father says, "I know. That's why I sent you: because I love them, and I want them for myself. My wrath, my judgment, my justice needed to be satisfied, so you did. You satisfied it."

What's with the wrath of God? Does that freak anybody out in here? Like, the judgment of God. "Oh my God! No, please!" What is with that? Well, think about it. Anything wrong or evil or errored in the world, anything criminal, anything that harms or hurts those you love… What do you want? You want justice. You want judgment. Wrongs deserve to be righted. They deserve to be disciplined.

God looks upon his world, his people, and he sees how they've been hurt, how we have hurt each other, and in his holiness he knows, "I must be just in the face of this evil, but I love them too much to judge them myself. I will send my Son to stand in on their behalf. He will take the hit that they might go free." Jesus is your advocate. Do you know him? Because apart from him, you have no advocate, and you will stand in consequence.

He's your atonement, but apart from him, there is no amount of good work or atoning nature you can bring to God. Nothing will satisfy, but he has made a way. He has provided an out. That's why Romans 8:34 says, "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised…" He was vindicated.

Who goes into a prison cell and then the door swings open who is not declared innocent, who has not paid the sentence in full? Jesus has done that. That's why the resurrection is so significant. It's not just that it promises you eternal life in the future; it promises you eternal life, forgiveness of sins, right now, today, here this evening, if you know him. That's such good news.

He not only died; he was raised. He's at the right hand of God. He has ascended back to the throne of majesty, who indeed is now interceding for us. He's standing on our behalf and saying, "God, I've taken care of it. I love them like you love them. There's no reason they should be separated from us any longer. They get to come home. They don't have to just spend eternity in heaven; they get to spend eternity with me, with you, with us."

The fount of all joy, the goodness of God… It's available to us. Yes, it is in the future, but it is available tonight. So, when all of the evidence is compiled, Jesus the righteous when we couldn't be… He died where we should have. He knows the penalty against us. It was so very great, but he paid it. Porch, why then would you walk in a darkness that you no longer have to? Why then would you not remove any obstacle from being close to him if all it means is confession?

If you're here and you don't know Jesus, the first step of confession is just to confess to God. It's to look to the Lord and say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there's any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. In the face of your beauty, let me see my depravity, and let me find Jesus and follow him where he goes."

If you do know him tonight, then maybe it's confessing to someone else. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Again, you confess to God, and you get forgiveness and joy, but healing comes through the prayers of your brothers and sisters.

Why wouldn't you pray for those who are in need? Why wouldn't you confess to those who have need? Why would you not come and say, "Hey, I've sinned against God. I've done these things. I've looked at this. I've thought these thoughts. I've said these words. I'm telling you. Would you pray for me? Would you help me find healing?" It's through their prayer that God's power comes to bear, your joy is restored, and you feel life within your bones again.

Maybe it's confessing to someone you've wronged, looking to someone and saying, "I've envied you. I've been embittered toward you. I've abused you. I've manipulated you. I've taken advantage of you. I've spoken these words behind your back." I don't know what it is, but confessing to those we've wronged, knowing that in so doing we've marred the image of God in people. We've indignified them. Jesus Christ has come to give us all the dignity and humanity that our sin has stripped from us.

Where do you feel guilt? God will prick that conscience, and it's there that you should take action. Friends, if we want to walk closely with God… The reason we've taken a week off from our series and decided just to visit about, "Hey, there is one thing…" That's the series we've been working through. There's one thing to seek that brings everything else into focus. What is it? It's proximity to God.

We've taken a week off to look at you and say, "There are reasons we feel a lack of closeness and proximity to him, and the reason for that so often is sin." So, friend, if you want to be close to him tonight, remove any obstacle in your way. Expose yourself. There's no darkness too great to keep us from God. The reason we can take heart and hope in knowing that is there was no darkness too great to keep him from you.

Jesus, the Light of the World, stepped into our darkness, becoming like us in it, that we, the dark of this world, might step into his light and become like him forever. Do you want to come close? Then confess. The light shines in the darkness. The darkness cannot overcome it. Step into the light. Be cleaned, and be alone no longer. Let me pray for us.

Father, I know this message can sit heavy, it can preach heavy, but, Lord, I pray before we walk out these doors and move back into whatever it is that's awaiting us in life, we would know freedom is available tonight. For those who don't know you, freedom is the offer. Freedom is the gift of God in the person of Jesus, that any who would cry out to him and say, "You're my Lord. You're my light. I want to follow you forever. I want to receive your gift, your grace in my life. I want to lay down my sins, knowing that you've paid for them, and receive your forgiveness…"

Freedom is available for you, that person, whoever it is who prays that prayer right now. You can be freer tonight than you've ever felt. But freedom is not only available for those who do not know Jesus; freedom is available for those who do know Jesus. The freest person in the room is the person who has absolutely nothing to hide.

So, God, would we come to you, and would we conceal these things no longer, but would we expose ourselves, and, God, would we receive the gift of walking free forever? We love you. We respond to you now. It's in Jesus' name we pray, amen.

You can stand to your feet and join us here in worship. Here's what I just want to put on the table. Before you sneak out, these evenings build to this moment right here, not because we're trying to get an emotional stir or trying to fabricate a moment but because God has led us this last hour to this moment now. What do you sense the Spirit of God in this room, in your life, prompting you to right now?

Listen. We have a team down front. They would love to pray with you. They would love to process with you. What you need to know about them, as we talk about this idea of confession, is there's nothing you could ever come say to us that would surprise us, that would ever catch us off guard. I've heard some crazy things, yet the good news of it is that Jesus Christ has paid in full for it all. So, why would you not come receive his grace for whatever it is? They're here to pray, to process. You can stay where you are. You can seek the Lord, confess to him. This moment is now yours. He's in the room. How will you respond, Porch?