“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130.3.
Who gets to stand before God confidently? Anyone? I’m not confident standing before my friends, let alone the Almighty! But confidence before God is available.
We can, “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence” Heb 4.16. We can have, “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” Heb 10.19. Sounds good, but is it your experience? Not always, if you’re like me.
What gets in the way of confidence and what can we do about it?
Silencing the Laughter
I was thirteen. My conscience was troubled. On a hot summer’s night, I stared at the ceiling. Was the Devil’s face above me, laughing? What was going on? I’d been shoplifting for a while now. Sweets, toys, magasines, books and other things. I was a ‘good’ boy. A church chorister and youth group member. My father was a Methodist lay preacher and headmaster. What would he think if he knew?
Summoning all my courage I put on my dressing gown and headed downstairs. My parents were watching television and mighty surprised to see me. They knew something was wrong. I remember it so clearly. I confessed all. They were appalled. We agreed a suitable punishment. I went to bed and slept in peace. The Devil’s laughter was silenced. The smile wiped off his face.
The Psalmist is right when he asks the rhetorical question, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130.3. But this is not God’s final word. He wants a relationship with us. What to do? Two challenges must be faced.
- Confidence is compromised by hidden sin.
- Confidence is weakened by pretence.
The Psalmist knows he and his people need forgiveness, “with you there is forgiveness,” v4, and “He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” v8.
No hiding. No pretence.
What shall we do with sin? Confess it. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
What do we do with weakness? Admit it. If we do, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (Romans 8:26). We’ll find a sympathetic ear in Jesus, “He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:2)
The goal of confession is not providing evidence you are a sinner. God already knows that. The goal of confession is a better relationship.
Confession moves us back into close relationship with the God we have offended. When Peter confessed his sinfulness, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8 NIV11), he expected Jesus to move away. The opposite happened.
“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10–11 NIV11)
Would you like to move closer to God? Confession is a crucial part of what makes intimacy possible. We’re kidding ourselves if we think deep friendship will happen without confession.
Confession is good news. It’s good for our spirit. If it’s good for our spirit, we can be sure it’s also good for our mind, emotions and body. Scientific evidence is building up that confession is healthy.
God did not send Jesus to the cross to punish us because of our sin, but to liberate us. Since we are free from the effects of sin, we are free from the guilt and shame of our sin. How sad that we might hide the sin that Jesus came to forgive. Instead, set yourself free to enjoy the good news of forgiveness by bringing your sin into the light.
The goal of confession is not providing evidence you are a sinner. God already knows that. Click To Tweet
Pray for greater sensitivity towards sin. Take time each morning to ask God for spiritual soberness, and to have the humility of heart to accept your sin of the previous day.
Pray for people who sin against you. Holding them in compassionate prayer may help you to confess your own sins. See Matt 5.44; Col 3.12-14.
Beware compulsive confession. If you find yourself compulsively confessing with no sense of relief, contact a friend to talk it over. You may find articles on the Mind and Soul website helpful.
What helps you to confess sin and weakness? What advice would you give to people struggling with confession? Please leave a comment below.
“Confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation….”