“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
Ancient Rome was known for its inhumane practices of torture and death. In the Roman Empire there were not a whole lot of prisons. The prisons they had were more like temporary holding cells, or for those of special distinction. When Paul and Silas were in a jail in Philippi it was a dark, wet, dungeon like hole where they were chained (Acts 16:23). When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he was under house arrest, so he rented a place while remaining under constant guard (Acts 28:16).
Instead of long or life imprisonment criminals were either tortured and/or killed. The torturous death of crucifixion was something that the Romans used. As we know with Jesus, victims were stripped naked, publicly nailed to a cross and were mocked and spit upon as they slowly died a painful death over a period of a day. But the Romans devised something even worse for those who were most hated for the crimes they committed, something almost unimaginable. These worst of the worst criminals would be sentenced to carry around dead weight. They would suffer a slow gruesome death of having a dead body chained to their backs. Over a period of a few weeks living with a maggot invested corpse attached to their bare back, disease would spread to the carrier. As the dead body decayed it would slowly leak toxins into the live person’s body, causing them to get sicker and sicker until they ultimately died a very slow, stinky and painful death.
This is what happens to people even today. No not in a literal sense, but just as foul and painful. When we carry sin, unforgiveness, unresolved issues, etc, we have death strapped to our backs. Jesus said that when we don’t forgive others the Father won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15) and we are actually handed over to the torturers (Matthew 18:34-35). Yikes!!! Unconfessed sin is exactly the same as carrying dead weight. But the beautiful thing is, if we confess our sins Jesus is faithful and just to not only forgive us of our sins but cleanse us of the residue of death (1 John 1:9). Paul told us that we are to unhitch ourselves from sin and death and come out from under it! And instead live under the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:1-2).
Ask the Lord to forgive you of all your sin, known and unknown. Be specific! Choose to forgive those who have hurt and/or offended you. Forgiveness is not based on feelings or emotions. We forgive because we choose to, not because we feel like it. Ask the Lord to show you any other place of death that you are carrying around. Thank the Lord that you have been set free from the law of sin and death through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-2). Now pray for your pastor and church to be set free from the stench of carrying dead weight!