I recently cheated in a quiz.
There are many who would say that’s “trivial”, especially given that the quiz only accounted for 5% of my grade – but I still felt horrible inside.
This was what happened: I unintentionally saw my friend’s answer, which made me realise that my units were wrong. Just then, the professor announced the end of the quiz, and I found myself hastily correcting my error before I put my pen down.
Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who’s not done something like this before. I mean, I’ve done this before and never felt guilty. But this time was different.
Somehow, I felt so convicted about this “insignificant” sin. I knew I had to confess it to God and own up to my professor.
The opportunity to own up came and went, but I didn’t do anything because I was afraid. Well-meaning friends tried to comfort me saying, “It’s alright, it’s a small thing … Just don’t do it again next time.”
On previous occasions, these words would have been a salve for my guilt, but this time the Holy Spirit never stopped nudging me about it. I couldn’t feel joy or peace with God – only a barrier.
I tried to pray. I tried to bargain. I tried to reason …
Saturday came and I went to Church.
I tried to pray and worship but I felt so restless and far from God. Just 30 seconds into worship, I found myself telling God: “Please don’t be unhappy with me.”
And God brought to my mind Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
So I knew that my confession to God wouldn’t cut it by itself. I prayed so hard for the Holy Spirit to give me supernatural courage to email my professor.
Holiness requires the complete weeding out of sin in partnership with the Holy Spirit.
Immediately, I took out my phone and emailed my professor before going back to worship. Peace returned to my heart immediately, and joy too, but my insecurities and fears began to question: What if I get removed from the course? That was such a lame thing to do.
All I could do was to stand firm in the peace of God, knowing I was doing what was right.
My professor finally replied after the service. I opened it nervously and cried as I read his gracious reply.
I was so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. Beyond that, He showed me what His standards of holiness were and how much He hated sin. And how we have fallen short.
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
God’s call to that same standard of holiness and perfection is high – but it’s not a hopeless call for us if we are obedient.
His holiness requires that I confess my sins even if they seem small and lame. Holiness requires the complete weeding out of sin in partnership with the Holy Spirit.
With “the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless” (Psalm 18:2), I can keep myself blameless and without guilt before Him (Psalm 18).
I live diligently so as to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace (2 Peter 3:14). But when I fail, I know I have a greater hope to be made holy and perfect when Christ returns again, because of His crucifixion and death.