Daily Failures and Sins

[The believer] has, indeed, his daily failures and sins, which must needs be confessed and put away; but his confessions are those of a child at the feet of his father, and the Father’s forgiveness in the death of Christ washes off those daily sins, and thus he is kept clean every whit (John 13.10). He never becomes and accused culprit at the bar of Justice. His appreciative sense of the Father’s love of him will ever prompt him to be sensitive to sin, and cause him to purify his daily conduct; or, if his appreciations grow faint and feeble, and thereby he be betrayed into more or less carelessness of living, then will the Father deal with him according to a father’s discipline, but he remains uncharged. God is no longer his judge, having already judged him in Christ. He is accused of nothing and never again condemned. His daily failures are dealt with in the intercourse of Father and Son. Perfect in the perfectness of Christ, the Father sees him as without blemish, and feels for him the very endearment with which He looks upon His Only Begotten and Well Beloved. Uncharged of every claim, all his life long, is he who is in Christ.

W. R. Nicholson, Oneness with Christ (Chicago: Bible Institute Colportage Assoc, 1903), 116-117.

Living beneath the Cross of Jesus

Whoever lives beneath the cross of Jesus, and has discerned in the cross of Jesus the utter ungodliness of all people and of their own hearts, will find there is no sin that can ever be unfamiliar.

Whoever has once been appalled by the horror of their own sin, which nailed Jesus to the cross, will no longer be appalled by even the most serious sin of another Christian; rather they know the human heart from the cross of Jesus.

Such persons know how totally lost is the human heart in sin and weakness, how it goes astray in the ways of sin—and know too that this same heart is accepted in grace and mercy.

Only another Christian who is under the cross can hear my confession. It is not experience with life but experience of the cross that makes one suited to hear confession. The most experienced judge of character knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the cross of Jesus.
The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot comprehend this one thing: what sin is. Psychological wisdom knows what need and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the ugliness of the human being. And so it also does not know that human beings are ruined only by their sin and are healed only by forgiveness. The Christian alone knows this. In the presence of a psychologist I can only be sick; in the presence of another Christian I can be a sinner.

The psychologist must first search my heart, and yet can never probe its innermost recesses. Another Christian recognizes just this: here comes a sinner like myself, a godless person who wants to confess and longs for God’s forgiveness.

The psychologist views me as if there were no God. Another believer views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the cross of Jesus Christ.

When we are so pitiful and incapable of hearing the confession of one another, it is not due to a lack of psychological knowledge, but a lack of love for the crucified Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 5 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 114-16.