Now we must ask, what happens when someone has been hurt by my sin? The Bible teaches that the moment we have sincerely confessed this sin to God, the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is enough to cleanse the moral guilt. As Christians we insist that all sin has bearing, correlation, and relationship in being contrary to the perfect nature of God and that all sin is ultimately ‘against God’. When I hurt the man, I sin against God. But let us never forget that this does not change the fact that because man has been made in the image of God, the man I have hurt has real value. And this must be important to me, not only as a concept but in my practice and demonstration. My fellowman is not unimportant: he is God’s image-bearer. That is true of the non-Christian man as well as of the Christian. He is lost, but he is still a man. Thus when God says, ‘My child, this sin is different; in this sin you have hurt another person,’ I respond, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the answer is clear from the word of God: ‘Make it right with the man you have hurt. The man you have hurt is not a zero.’
But what is the usual reaction when God says to me, ‘Go and make it right’? It is to answer, ‘But that would be humiliating.’ Yet surely, if I have been willing to tell God I am sorry when I have sinned, I must be willing to tell this to the man I have hurt. How can I say, ‘I am sorry’ to God, if I am not willing to say, ‘I am sorry’ to the man I have hurt, when he is my equal, my fellow creature, my kind? Such repentance is meaningless hypocrisy. This is why so many of us have deadness in our lives. We cannot just trample human relationships and expect our relationship to God to be lovely, beautiful, and open. This is not only a matter of what is legally right, but of a true relationship of person to person on the basis of who I am and who the man is.
In James 5:16 we are told, ‘Confess your faults one to another.’ We are not told to confess our faults to a priest, not to the group, unless the group has been harmed, but to the person we have harmed. This is a very simple admonition, but in our present imperfect state, very difficult to obey. To go and say, ‘I am sorry’ is to enter by the low door: first in confessing to God, and then to the individual harmed. Let me emphasize, this is a person before me, a human being, made in God’s image. So it is not such a low door after all, because all it involves is being willing to admit our equality with the one we have hurt. Being his equal it is perfectly right that I should want to say, ‘I am sorry.’ Only a desire to be a superior makes me afraid to confess and apologize. (con’t tomorrow)
Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc