John 8:31-36 (NRSV)
31Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?" 34Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
“Going to Confession” was a big thing in my Roman Catholic upbringing. We would examine our conscience, enumerate our sins, go into the booth, and confess them to the man behind the screen. He would declare us forgiven and give us some penance to do. Coming out of the booth felt like freedom—being washed clean!—but only until the next peccadillo. We feared dying with some unconfessed sin weighing on our souls, which meant going to Purgatory or, worse yet, Hell. I get Martin Luther and his Reformation emphasis on the grace and mercy of God. Later in life, an evangelical pastor told a small group I was in that you can’t lose your salvation. I believe that now. I can’t lose it because I never won it. It was given to me by my merciful God, won for me by Jesus. Trusting in Christ, I am free indeed. I can fight earthly battles, knowing the ultimate victory is won!
Jesus, you are my refuge in a world of sin. Help me to remember that I am free. Amen.